A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

This is the second installment of my monthly article, you can read the very first one here

2020! What a year! I thought the most that would happen would be endless job applications, learning new things about myself and creating a jobless man budget whilst I continued to figure out what I wanted to do now that my thirties is here and what plans I would have to make for my future. 

It started with the Corona virus and when I first heard about it, like everybody else, I assumed it was going to be just another Sars virus and everything would be back to “normal” in a few weeks and when I say normal, I mean we would pretend it never happened. Alas! A couple of months later, the world began to shut down and everything was put on hold but not life itself, it carried on and we had to adjust with it. 

Alot of hashtags rose up, too. It was like a tidal wave and it was felt all over the world, from #BLM to #StopRape to #ENDSARS and so on and women were seen leading the charge. I am extremely proud of my gender. I am proud to be living in a period where for the first time, we are recognised as the champions. The change agents. Alot hit us all at once last year and I have been especially sensitive about it even though I pretend otherwise and 10-20-20 is a day never to be forgotten; to forever remain in our history books and our hearts.

2020 was very eventful but I am eternally grateful to still be alive to fight for and speak for those that aren’t able to now and in the future. I want to leave a better world for the next generation, just like our forefathers did for us. It has also been impactful in so many other ways but the most for me has been looking at our economy, especially the workplace and the realisation hit me that Nigeria as a Nation is still not ready to move into the next phase of HR especially human experience and work-life balance. We are years behind on the work that we should have put in place in case the world ever had to stop moving.

Speaking of Nigeria not being ready, a few months ago back in 2020 I emailed a copy of my resume to an employer in regards to a job, he took one look and said, you have changed jobs multiple times in the last 7+ years and that to me shows lack of commitment. Every time I have changed jobs, it has been because of better and more challenging opportunities, not lack of loyalty or commitment and I have nothing but positive reviews from all my previous employers. I have spent 8+ years in the same industry with a steady upward growth in my career, how does that show lack of commitment?

So many questions were running through my mind like, why are employers/recruiters quick to blame the candidate? Did it ever occur to them that maybe the organisation did a poor job providing a conducive work environment? Or, maybe I reached a career plateau and needed better opportunities, more challenges and job security and the organisation wasn’t fulfilling or going to fulfill any of that? Or, maybe I really just wanted a change. What is wrong with the need to gain more knowledge? 

Are employees still expected to dedicate an unseen amount of years to the same organisation especially if they are dissatisfied with the organisational culture/ethics and work environment? I guess, we are still expected to take what we can get because we do have bills to pay and other financial responsibilities. I did wonder why he didn’t ask me why I changed jobs multiple times. I guess he just assumed I couldn’t hold down a job. There is only so much you can give to something or someone when the growth potentials and rewards are so little, almost non-existent. 

Job requirements, like 8+ years of experience in the same job family and a degree from a prestigious or well-known private university, that not everybody can afford is just, again, ridiculous especially when the salary is not worth it. Employers need to take into consideration job experience diversity and as long as the experiences are meaningful and the candidate can prove that they are competent and highly skilled to do the job. I mean, we are dealing with a whole new generation and more employees are looking for their employers or potential employers to care about them and at the same time are looking for job fulfillment and enrichment. They are looking to make an impact in their society. 

Looking back and trying to figure out what my next plan is, I found myself leaning towards a career in Human Resources because working with such diverse groups of people and experiencing different organizational culture, over the years I have learned so much about myself and how to work with people because although individual differences are never ending they must be embraced. I have always found joy in making sure that my teams/employees have a good and positive work experience by making sure that we at the top level care about those that work with us and for us.  

With that knowledge, It seems like I have put a pin on the next 10 years or more of my life. I started off by getting a human resources certification, -which I had written earlier in December of 2020 (this in itself is a story for another day)- and because of my MBA degree, study materials were all already familiar to me, so I believe I am on the right track. I also took a 3-week online course on openSAP on Human Experience Management in HR as I found it a very progressive direction in HR which piqued my interest.

Every time I’ve talked about HR as the next phase of my career, I get the same question, why HR? I have always been interested in organisational management and hospitality. Switching my major from Microbiology to Tourism and Hospitality Management in university should have been a sign. The job of a HR manager is one that will never go extinct. It’s evolving into viewing employees as not just pieces to be used and moved around but also cared for. Even as technology evolves and organisations become more automated there will always be some jobs that are dedicated to the living and they need to be cared for. 

I have great interpersonal skills, as I have been told too many times to count and an avid interest in figuring out if and how something can be done better. I have always been drawn to making people around me feel included, happy and if not, I always want to know if or how I can help. I understand that HR is not all sparkly rainbows and pink flying elephants but it doesn’t deter me. I know there is work to be done and you can’t please everybody but sometimes, making a difference in the life of one person is enough. I also understand that I work more for the interest of the company than the employees but why does one have to be treated less than so that the other can continue to line their pockets? 

You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.

 Renee West

The different parts of HR, I am drawn towards includes, Diversity and Inclusion because I know what it feels like to not feel like you belong somewhere. A need to fit in, to find where you belong and it is crucial for every employee to feel like they fit in with the organisation they work for. If you don’t feel at home or some sense of loyalty or job security, how do you perform at optimum level? I couldn’t, can you? Also, People and Culture is also of interest to me because I love learning about different cultures and how it affects organisations and its employees. How organisations have to adapt to surrounding cultures and adjust to remain respectful to all its employees and customers.

For me what cemented the decision to choose these areas of HR, other than the fact that I am already naturally drawn to all that it entails, was in December, 2020. I had an interview and the recruiter asked me, why HR and every time I gave an answer, she asked me why that answer. It got me thinking about something I learnt from one of my Management course professors during my MBA program. She said, if you keep asking ‘Why’ by at least the 5th time, you will have a better understanding. At the time of this interview, I had thought I wanted to focus my attention on Learning and Development but at the end of that interview, not only did I realise that I was

making certain decisions under self-imposed stress but I had been focusing on the wrong things and not asking myself enough whys.

I see great potentials and opportunities for growth but only the enlightened are making provisions and willing to make adjustments for the greater good. I would like to be part of them. I want to be part of the disruptive innovation in Human Resources that is consuming the world and shaking up the workplace in the wake of Covid-19. I am looking forward to making my mark whether in a big way or a little way, as long as a difference is made it’s a step in the right direction.

Until next time….

XOXO

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