Embracing the Wave of Change

William Mayer, SVP Human Resources, Canon Solutions America

William Mayer, SVP Human Resources, Canon Solutions America

Over the past few decades, the human resources function has undergone a dramatic transformation. I have been witnessing this transformation for the past 40 years, ever since the commencement of my journey in 1973. Back in the day, our primary activities were transactional, with little or no emphasis on labor relations—and the focus was mainly to bring people onboard, to recognize tenure, and provide service awards and to administer benefits programs. However, that was not a strategic approach, which made me wonder about a different approach. While considering how to enhance all aspects of the human resource function and while maintaining healthy and productive communication with my peers, I decided that emphasizing on business was the key factor, which led me to pursue my MBA. Working for both Océ (a Canon company) and Canon Solutions America, at different times, I found a pressing need for strong human resources management, which prompted me to want to transform the function. Over the last 20 years, I was required to keep pace with different demands and the shifting paradigm in the human resources sector. As businesses in every vertical are inundated with data, our company focuses on collecting data and analyzing it to identify the progress of the business, which contributes tremendously to the overall growth of the organization in real time.

"We Focus On Collecting Data And Analyzing It To Identify The Progress Of The Business, Which Contributes Tremendously To The Overall Growth Of The Organization In Realtime"

Meeting the Challenges in the Domain

Irrespective of the industry, the human resources department of any organization should function as a facilitator to attract, hire, and retain responsible professionals who can embrace the values and enhance the future of the organization. In doing so, the deciding components alter largely as trends change within the population that will comprise future employees. The majority of the employable population today is millennials, who approach the workplace differently than Boomers or Gen Xers. The influence of the organizational design, culture, training, benefits, and other factors plays an important role in attracting, recruiting and retaining talent. Moreover, to be ahead of the game, we need to keep pace with the future of the organization by implementing sophisticated systems and tools.

The Four Criteria to Assess a Tool

Leading the human resources department, I work to ensure that we deploy innovative methodologies and systems that assess the talent of the workforce and match it with the current and future demands of the organization. Furthermore, I maintain a good relationship with other business leaders who provide insight into the leading market innovations. Choosing the right vendor for state-of-the-art tools and services requires meeting four essential criteria. The first criterion should encompass the power of ‘integration’ of the product. The product should be able to integrate multiple databases and should enable data analytics seamlessly. Secondly, the product should be ‘simple’ and user-friendly, which assists not only the human resources team but also other managers to access information and critical data. This crucial data brings the spotlight on the security aspect, which should be marked as the third criterion. Topping it all, the fourth criterion demands the product to be powerful.

When I came on board, there weren’t many KPIs active in the market, and this gave me the opportunity to introduce and establish accountability in my team. This allowed my team to absorb and appreciate what their customers and partners are expecting from them, and how well we are meeting those expectations.

Note for Aspiring Leaders

The most common question I face from our employees is how they can grow and what can enhance their career. Personally, I believe that the progress of a business is twofold; both the employee and the leader should grow by mutually influencing and elevating each other. My suggestion to aspiring leaders who aim at uplifting the business from where it is to where it should be is to focus on having effective communication with employees. The leaders should ensure that the employees understand what is expected of them.

Currently, the rate of disruption has accelerated from the recent past, and this will constantly challenge the industry for more. However, the human resources department will continue to focus on how to attract, identify, develop and retain talent for years to come.

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