The Most Important Lesson I Learnt in HR

Becky Leighton

Posted: March 14, 2018

Table of Contents

lesson in hr

‘People are our greatest asset’, is a phrase that can be loudly heard from the sky’s of high-rise glass boardrooms to the canals of mine-shafts beneath the earth’s surface. Conglomerates to small enterprises, sole proprietors to corporations, ‘people first’ is the vision, mission statement and goal of most businesses. Especially when you play in a field like Human Resource Management, you need to value people. 

People first

Learning how to manage and lead people is a daunting task. You will win some and lose some. You will have those that will walk the line with you and those who will cross the line. Most of us move from subordinate to superior positions based on knowledge and expertise in our field of work. Rarely, is it based on our people skills or the ability to oversee fellow colleagues.

So why is it then, that certain businesses put so much emphasis on ‘people first’. Simple answer: as a human being, it is taken for granted that you should just be able to manage other humans because you are a nice person, or you get along with everyone. Well, manager or not, we know it is just not that easy – help is required.

Listening to understand

As a manager, you need never forget that the only way you can own this title is if you have people to manage. It is imperative that you keep your people content, thus allowing you to keep your position.

So how do you keep your staff working to the best of their ability? In my opinion – understand them. Delve into their environment, culture, and learn what makes them who they are. It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted in a country like South Africa, where cultures differ in unique and meaningful ways.

From experience, people want to talk about themselves; they want to be heard, so allow them. This will give you a more intimate understanding of what makes them tick, and allow you to build on their strengths. I learnt this through many years of formal education and leadership experience. HRM (Human Resource Management), is a subject that takes a lot of experience and self-reflection in order to put people first.

Don’t wait till you’re on the top

Junior and middle management have or want to enhance their knowledge of Human Resources. They want to be able to lead successfully, however, it should be a global top-down approach. Big shot CEO’s, Board Members, everyone in their ivory tower, should harness the expertise of human resource management because we forget, they manage people, too. How do we trust a manager when he/she doesn’t have the knowledge to manage the company’s greatest resource – Human beings?

It starts, not when you are in a position of power, but when you want to begin the journey to become powerful. Knowing how to manage the people in your work circle is not only going to make doing your job rewarding, it’s going to springboard you to the next level of success.

The Human Resource Management short course for non-HR managers, coupled with your own experience in management, will consolidate what you know as a manager, but it will also give you the confidence to lead your organisation, so you can make the claim honestly, ‘I put people first!’.

by Nolen Naidoo, Former Head of Sales – MasterStart

Nolen Naidoo – Passionate about Business Management, with a particular focus on Operations and Human Resources. Nolen functioned as the Head of Sales at MasterStart, training and assisting his team in enhancing their sales and operational skills.

Nolen previously lead the outbound sales division for large corporations in South Africa and the United Kingdom, consisting of a staff complement of over 300 sales agents and management personnel. He boasts an impressive breadth of sales experience in markets as diverse as UK, Australia, America and South Africa.

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