AN INTERVIEW WITH LINDA SABOURIN ON HR MANAGEMENT
Linda Sabourin has several years of experience in a strategic advisory role for both human resources management and career management. She offers services related to the assessment and development of human potential, including: management/career coaching, management skills development training programs, assessment of potential (psychometric testing), career transitions, and organizational development. Her clients include individuals, SMEs, and large organizations in diverse sectors (public, para public, manufacturing, services).
Linda Sabourin, c.o., coaching and consultation services for human resources
September 2007 – Present (nine years); Montreal South Shore.
1. What advice would you give to recent graduates entering the workforce? How can they start their career on the right foot?
To facilitate their integration into the workforce, they must first ensure they choose a career that reflects their interests, abilities, and values. Taking time for reflection to improve self-awareness can be extremely valuable. Before starting their job search, they should attend information meetings with key people in their field in the job market in order to:
- target the types of jobs and work environments to pursue in light of their interests, abilities, and values;
- improve their knowledge and understanding of various roles and responsibilities of the position;
- verify elements and information;
- develop their network;
- better define what would be relevant to include in their action/career plan to reach their professional goals;
- adapt their job search strategies and interview preparation based on the information they gather.
Finally, it would also be wise for recent graduates to verify the concrete methods implemented by the employer to facilitate their integration and the development of their skills.
2. What advice would you give to new managers? What should they do to establish their credibility and become a good leader?
Credibility is a key factor to inspire the confidence of their team members, have influence, and persuade others of the validity of their actions.
Credibility is a very subjective concept, since its meaning can vary according to organizational culture and individual values. It is therefore critical, first of all, to be in listening mode with the team members (rather than trying to persuade them) to accurately understand the environment, understand their needs, and become appropriately equipped to choose the correct actions and do what is right for the situation.
Here are some key elements of what new managers can do if they want to successfully establish their credibility:
- Have strong self-awareness. Self-awareness is the basis of skills development. New managers will be more prepared to effectively evolve in their role if they target the strengths they can rely on as well as the means to develop themselves. Training and coaching are useful ways to help achieve their goals.
- Choose a position that is consistent with their interests, skills, values, and training.
- Make time for reflection. Such moments are invaluable, allowing them to take a step back to organize and prepare themselves, find the resources they need, fuel their reflections and choose the optimal strategies to obtain results.
- Develop their ability to transform their mistakes or defeats into development opportunities.
- Show authenticity and transparency in their daily actions; including enough humility to admit their mistakes.
- “Walk the talk” and respect their commitments.
- Develop their skills for building relationships with others and communicating effectively.
- Mobilize team members by leading by example, by honing their abilities to share a clear vision, by reassessing how things are done to continuously improve performance, by recognizing the contributions and potential of each team member, and by facilitating employees’ work (e.g., by supplying the right tools and encouraging skills development).
3. Individual employee development is essential to reduce turnover rates and maximize the effectiveness of personnel. What would you say is the best approach to ensure the development of new employees?
Aside from ensuring that strong integration plans are in place and training by the employee’s immediate superior is available, other means can be implemented to optimize individual development. For example, during recruitment, the company can use tools to establish a complete portrait of an individual in terms of motivation, values, and competencies. This will allow the company to better integrate that person, target development paths, and establish the appropriate means to support them from the beginning.
It is also vital to approach individual development and talent management in terms of “career management” for the individual. Today, members of Generation Y and Millennials place much more importance on reconciling their personal needs at different stages of their lives, with their need for professional growth. First, it is essential for a company to prepare the terrain and provide conditions for success to encourage the development of its employees and a common understanding of what “career development and management” include. It is also critical that this becomes a “company project” in order to minimize potential obstacles as much as possible (e.g., a manager who refuses to transfer their employee to another position, department, or subsidiary).
To guarantee the success of a development program, a number of aspects must be jointly tackled by the employee and the manager. First, the career concept must be defined and considered from different angles (multi-directional and job enrichment in particular, not just as a succession of promotions). Additionally, a link must be made between the individual’s profile (motivations, skills, values) and his or her life stages. Moreover, the roles and responsibilities of each player (employee, immediate superior, and human resources) must be well defined in order to establish an effective and successful program. The necessary tools and support should also be offered to ensure employees understand themselves well enough to be able to seize potential and realistic opportunities for themselves within the organization. The goal is that they contribute to their own plan of action and appropriate their career development.
To ensure a sound establishment of these practices within the company, an organizational development advisor can guide management and human resource services. Advisors can structure this procedure from the beginning, and propose or even conceive simple and appropriate tools that will guarantee the company’s autonomy. What are the tools that can facilitate the process? Workshops encouraging a common understanding of career management and the implementation of success conditions, exercises, professional assessments and psychometric testing to foster self-awareness and establish professional objectives, career development plans, career meeting preparation guides, and so on. For a more optimal approach, some tools can be administered online through the company portal.
In summary, the career management process allows employees to gain stronger self-awareness and greater empowerment. Choices are realistic and well-informed, and are based on their profile and opportunities within the company. This step can only encourage stronger talent retention, because it facilitates the establishment of optimal development plans, which are supported by managers, and which stimulate employees to fully take charge of their own career management process.
4. Finally, some career transitions can become tumultuous or hard. Often, people end up wanting to reposition themselves professionally. How can they go about doing so successfully?
Confronted with a job market that is constantly evolving and on the basis of their life’s stage, individuals may decide to revise their career plan because of many different reasons. Such elements are highly diverse, and may include a reduction in motivation or performance, the challenge of reconciling personal and professional lives, a job in an environment in which they no longer feel they are being true to their personal values or interests, the desire to give new meaning to their work, or even to make a dream come true.
To reposition themselves in a way that fosters their well-being as much as possible, individuals must first engage in structured reflection. This introspection will give them greater self-awareness and is useful for taking the necessary step back to know where they stand. It is a professional review that helps these individuals to project themselves into a job and a workplace consistent with what they want, while precisely targeting the various options available. The next step is to implement their plan of action to reach their objectives. The more thoroughly this step is realized, the easier it will be to make a decision afterwards.
In a career transition context, it can be very beneficial for people to seek the support of a career counsellor in private practice who can meet their needs and guide them at each step or in certain specific activities, such as:
- Developing a career plan;
- Targeting their interests, abilities, values, and reality factors to consider in professional choices;
- Identifying obstacles and hindrances to better adapt to work;
- Making choices in relation to personal factors;
- Establishing their action plan and career development plan;
- Selecting relevant training, if required, based on choices;
- Concretely exploring the job market, and targeting potential work environments and opportunities;
- Adapting their job search strategies;
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