While the key requirement for any human resources (HR) leader is to build and retain talent, a majority of HR leaders are still focused on policies and processes instead of initiating innovative practices to drive the change.
Kristin Trecker, chief human resources officer (CHRO), Visteon Corporation, a global technology leader in automotive electronics, says there’s an urgent need to rethink the role of HR within the organisation.
“The role of HR has undergone a sea change in the past several years driven by the increased criticality of talent in executing the business strategy. The expectation today is that HR is boundaryless and deeply integrated with the core business,” she says.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Trecker shares insights on how HR leaders can play a role in partnering with CEOs or business leaders and building a culture that has a one-team mindset and is aligned by a common vision.
Here are some edited excerpts.
There seems to be an urgent need to build HR capability including awareness about data, technology, marketing, P&L, and financials for post-pandemic success. How can this be achieved?
The HR teams need to have multi-functional understanding and experience to create a meaningful impact. This includes commercial, financial, customer and market awareness and the ability to leverage data and technology to provide better insights and strategies.
I always tell my team that we are value creators—for our people, customers, and investors. For this, we need a 360-degree overview of the company and business. We need to think about adding both top- and bottom-line value.
At Visteon, we work closely with business leaders to develop our strategic priorities and assess the capabilities required to achieve these. We collaborate with the leadership team to identify the talent requirements needed to support our technology and customer roadmap.
Finally, building a team with diverse experiences and expertise is also a way to build the whole team’s capability. My team includes people who also have sales, marketing, and financial backgrounds—and this includes me. This brings in new perspectives while simultaneously building organisational capabilities in these areas.
How can HR leaders play a role in building a culture with a one-team mindset and common vision?
As HR leaders, we are stewards, with the CEO and the executive team, of the culture. We create the organisational framework and architecture that enables people to unleash their individual and collective abilities.
We have fostered a highly collaborative environment ensuring that everyone in the company understands the vision. This message is cascaded through our regional and functional leaders as well. This enables people to better understand where we are going and what we stand for.
In turn, our employees understand the impact they are creating in their roles, which strengthens their connection with the company.
How is Visteon reshaping the workplace culture to focus on employees and their professional development?
People engagement is always one of our priorities. Post-pandemic, it is even more important to re-evaluate our thinking around this. We are deploying listening strategies to better understand how we can increase employee engagement and effectiveness.
For example, we recently adopted a hybrid work model. Because of our listening efforts, we were able to structure this to be more responsive to employees’ needs and find the right balance between business objectives and helping people work more effectively and grow in their careers.
We are also focused on building a healthy culture and creating the right environment for people to learn, grow and succeed. This includes:
Living our beliefs and values so they are more than words on a piece of paper. Our beliefs are values are:
- We obsess over delivering exceptional customer satisfaction
- We treat each other with respect and embrace our differences
- We use our passion for innovation to keep our customers ahead of the curve
- We uplift the communities in which we operate and protect our environment at every turn
Emphasising the importance of both the “what” and “how” of work. We are becoming a software-driven company with technology solutions that allow us to play an important role in our customers’ transition to digital cockpits, electrification and the connected car.
But just as important as what we do is how we do it. Our values remain at the forefront as we embrace this rapid pace of change. Visteon’s Beliefs and Values form a “North Star” to guide us in our work. They build on our past strengths but are forward-looking to assure that we hold ourselves to the highest standards in every step we take, every single day.
Incorporating nimbleness. The industry is undergoing once-in-a-century transformation and is witnessing an exponential rate of change. To respond to this change, we are building teams that are nimble and have an entrepreneurial spirit.
At Visteon, people have the freedom to explore trends and consumer behaviours, and sense and seize new opportunities. There will be obstacles. However, we are confident that our team can overcome these so that we can better serve our customers with industry-leading digital products.
Adopting a growth mindset. We encourage people to step outside their comfort zone, explore new things and adopt a growth mindset. We have also earmarked a day each year to intentionally focus on a growth mindset. On this day, we ask people across levels to talk about their achievements and initiate a dialogue on how embracing a growth mindset helps.
Providing career development opportunities through career mobility and recognition. Our goal is to increase our ability to source talent from within. We have a well-laid-out internal movement plan and process to place people into new, challenging roles that help them grow their capabilities. This has led to increased cross-functional collaboration and more cohesion.
We are also recognising extraordinary performers who really strive to make a difference. Our Future Makers programme, for example, recognises key technical talent across all functions who shape Visteon’s future through innovation or by improving the ways we operate.
Another example is Visteon’s Technical Ladder programme, which accelerates the development of the individual's core competencies linked to the company's product portfolio. Visteon's Technical Ladder gives its experts a platform to promote their work in creating new methods of product development and innovative manufacturing processes across a variety of different disciplines.
We are also recognising employees by offering a direct stake in the company’s performance via stock options. This enables sharing ownership and profits with a broad base.
What is your talent strategy to stay future-ready amid disruptive trends in the mobility space?
Technology is changing fast, and we need to be very diligent about observing the market trends. Here are a few things that we are incorporating into our talent strategy:
Developing a talent roadmap. We collaborate with our customers so we can enable them to be successful in the marketplace. We create a connection between customers, their roadmap, technology innovations, industry demands, and our talent. Every six months, we review these roadmaps by analysing the needs and plans of our customers and developing an integrated talent development plan.
Developing our workforce planning capabilities. Our workforce planning model allows us to look at the capabilities that we have today, the capabilities we might need in the future, and identify the gap. This allows us to better ensure that we have the right skills at the right time at the right place. It also allows us to make smart investment decisions when we know additional capabilities are needed.
Launching an early career programme. To build capability within our organisation, we are focusing on bringing in recent college graduates through the RISE programme, which is an early career programme at Visteon. It allows us to find talented newcomers with deep capabilities, train them and help them grow in the mobility industry.
We're also looking across the industry to find innovative leaders who understand technology in the mobility space and can augment our capabilities with new skills and talent.