As HR professionals evolve from transactional players to strategic ones, CEOs are demanding increasingly complex deliverables from those leaders. HRD reveals the key expectations of some of Canada’s most influential corporate heads
Rosemary McCarney President and CEO Plan Canada
As the head of Plan Canada — one of the country’s oldest and largest charities — Rosemary McCarney is an award-winning humanitarian and business leader. And as all organizations struggle to do more with less, non-profits like hers are offering valuable lessons in keeping operational costs down. Plan Canada, for example, spends no more than 21 per cent of its budget on those expenses. HR leadership\ has a key role to play. Here’s her advice.
1. Adapt your communication abilities:
Great leaders take the time to genuinely care for and get to know their employees as people, not just resources, by using both speaking and listening skills. At Plan, through town halls, roundtable discussions or conversations in the hallway, I strive to cultivate a “push back” culture to exchange ideas and an open-door work environment, which helps encourage spontaneous feedback and reflection. This can really shape how you think about your organization’s culture and those at the core of it.
2. Look for ways to deepen the accountability of your organization:
The diverse 200-member team I’ve recruited and the 200,000 plus donors who engage in our mission have built their trust on our proven track record of excellence in governance, accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement — standards that we adhere to with utmost rigour and consistency. Creating clear and articulated performance ideals and exploring how to better manage multiple accountabilities is how leaders can encourage their employees to take responsibility in their own roles for the greater organizational mission.
3. Boldly step out of your comfort zone:
It’s important to take risks — whether they’re career, personal or financial risks — and have a high comfort level and tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. HR leaders shouldn’t be afraid to be innovative and courageous in creating a vision for a better future of their organization and that also means being proactive in addressing sensitive and delicate challenges as well as opportunities.
4. Be an agent of positive change:
Understand that you’re in a crucial position to change minds, lives and policies — whether it’s for hundreds of thousands of marginalized people worldwide or for those within your own sector. In leading Plan, I’ve seen that as busy as we are, we can still dig deep to harness the power of change within ourselves to add new opportunities and rich experiences day after day, not only in our own lives, but also for entire communities and countries that we are working in to change destinies.
5. Passion is key:
Recognize that if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing then it’s time to change. I’ve seen passion at work through the tremendous dedication of our staff in our Toronto and Ottawa offices and our teams on the ground that are positively impacting the lives of communities in developing countries every day. Our unreserved commitment to working with the world’s poorest children stands strong and at the heart of everything we do. For everyone, do what you’re passionate about and do it with passion.
Read the complete feature and more on HRM Online Canada's May Issue.
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