HR in the Hot Seat: Ben Bazinet, Horizon North

HR in the Hot Seat: Ben Bazinet, Horizon North

HR in the Hot Seat: Ben Bazinet, Horizon North As vice president of human resources at construction and industrial services company Horizon North, Ben Bazinet leads strategies across human capital development, organizational effectiveness, transformational cultural change, talent acquisition and recognition.

The business-minded exec is passionate about innovation in HR, including seeking out non-traditional hires with essential skills, and the importance of using analytics to inform strategy.

Here, he shares what the future of HR holds, what makes him proudest at work, and the biggest challenges facing HR executives.

If you could give your younger self, or someone entering HR for the first time, one piece of advice – what would it be?
We are all sales people; even those of us in HR roles. Increase your ability to influence others and sell your ideas. You will always need buy-in and support from other people, teams or departments which you don’t have the authority to just mandate change upon. Your success will be absolutely correlated to how well you master this skillset.

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for your HR department?
We are restructuring our human resources team and service delivery model to provide enhanced strategic, proactive and efficient service to the business and our people. Previously, each HR team member managed a broad scope of HR tasks for their individual business unit, which resulted in excessive workloads, duplication of efforts on similar projects and inconsistent application of policy across the organization. The new shared services model is focused on centralizing policies, aligning processes, launching new programs and implementing new systems and is already streamlining efforts with the reduction of 40 forms down to four.

What’s the biggest professional obstacle you – or your team – have faced and how did you overcome it?
Defining our culture continues to be our biggest challenge. Many of the items we’re working on require a shift away from the “way it’s always been done” and those are hard habits to break, as they are well established in the DNA of the company and our individuals. We are currently working on shifting the culture by implementing a balanced scorecard incentive program where annual bonuses are directly tied to specific goals and objectives. This, combined with a strong change management and communication plan should be enough to begin to shift the mindset across the organization. Results from test groups we’ve been working with so far have been extremely positive. What gets measured, gets done.

What’s your biggest industry worry or concern right now?
I continue to monitor technology advancements in HR. While many are positive, I’m always hesitant to take the “human” out of human resources. I always proceed with caution, as there are just some things I feel should always be hands on.

If you could change anything about the HR industry, what would it be?
I would like to see HR be less about HR. This sounds counterintuitive but we, as HR professionals, all seem to focus on the latest and greatest HR trends which can cause us to lose touch with the business. It’s really the meshing of HR into the business where you see the biggest success and this doesn’t happen if you don’t understand business fundamentals and drivers. I encourage my HR team to increase their business acumen more than anything else.

What is the proudest moment or achievement of your HR career so far?
Nothing makes me more proud than when someone emails or calls me just to tell me how great one of my team members are. It means a lot to know that my team is well respected and supporting the business in their success.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being in HR?
I think we’ve all had that one individual who doesn’t know, or perhaps doesn’t want to know, how to manage his or her team. Finally, after years of coaching and supporting, the individual finally “gets it” and becomes one of the best leaders you’ve ever seen. It’s that moment when everything comes together and you see the fruits of your effort that are the most rewarding.

How do you predict the industry will change, if at all, over the next five years?
I am really encouraged by a lot of the research and work being done around HR analytics. HR analytics allow us to tie softer HR concepts to direct business results. I think we’ll see a big shift in HR programs as we start peeling them apart and asking ourselves, “What value are we getting from doing this?” HR effectiveness will become a key focus over the next 5 years.

What would you like your HR legacy to be?
I’ve spent a lot of time on non-traditional hires at the most senior level. I believe hiring from different fields, industries and locations brings dramatically different thought processes, ideas and opportunities to an organization – thereby diversifying the employee base. I’ve had a lot of success with this over the past three years and feel this is my unique contribution to HR.

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