Magazine article HRMagazine

Introducing the HR Triumvirate

Magazine article HRMagazine

Introducing the HR Triumvirate

Article excerpt

Three HR professionals share leadership duties usually tackled by one person.

When I joined Rich Products Corp. in 1984 as an intellectual property lawyer, I never envisioned I would someday hold the role of chief administrative officer of this dynamic family-owned company. Through the years, developing and enabling great leaders has been our most critical competitive advantage.

We expect our leaders to adhere to 10 behaviors we call Great Leader Drivers. Two of the tenets require leaders to:

* Focus on "fit." Choose assignments and roles that link our associates' strengths to organizational needs.

* Assemble "the best." Create the magic that happens when highly talented associates work together.

It is within the context of these drivers that I tell the story of Rich's threeperson HR leadership team that shares responsibilities normally tackled by one person.

Local Focus, Family Owned

Founder of the nondairy segment of the frozen-food industry, Rich Products is a global supplier to food service, in-store bakery and retail marketplaces. Rich's annual sales exceed $3 billion, and we employ 9,200 people on six continents. The Buffalo, N.Y., manufacturer operates 36 facilities that produce 2,000 products sold in 112 countries. We tailor our innovative foods to each region to satisfy local tastes.

Even through the company's growth and expansion, Chairman Bob Rich Jr. has remained committed to family ownership with a "connected" culture that enables our people to bring our values to life. This commitment is for the benefit of our company, the people who work here, the communities we do business in and our customers.

Likewise, our organizational excellence strategy focuses on leadership to drive high levels of performance and engagement. Our Great Leader Drivers are behavior-based, observed, modeled and reinforced. All leaders are expected to demonstrate these behaviors authentically and consistently throughout their careers.

The Opportunity

In 2011, our executive leadership team began planning the next steps in our evolution, with watchful eyes on the volatility and globalization we predict will continue to shape opportunities and threats. We plan to continue evolving in response to these forces as we build on strengths and relationships as a global company.

In support of this strategy, in January 2012 we transformed our North America and International business groups into one entity with five regions. I viewed this approach as an opportunity to tap the strengths of a talented group of senior HR professionals.

From 2005 to 2011, Rich Products had a single senior vice president of human resources, who reported to me. He planned to retire, so we needed to create a succession plan that would address growth and achieve three goals:

* Equip HR professionals in business units to provide strategy and execution support to leadership teams.

* Strengthen our Center of Expertise in Organizational Development, where HR professionals design people programs and policies.

* Rely on an HR Shared Services Center to provide cost-effective services for associates and to lead compliance, risk mitigation and other initiatives.

Instead of naming one person as head of HR, we created a team, reporting to me, to take advantage of the skills and experience of three talented HR professionals already on our leadership bench.

"Shared leadership in HR is a leading- edge practice that can deliver a significant competitive advantage when implemented well," explains consultant Merle Ballaigues, president of Thomas International USA Inc. "In practice, it's a challenge to implement because of the commitment it requires from each team member to set ego aside, embrace collaboration and recognize the significant business opportunities that a sharedleadership model delivers."

Once I communicated the proposed approach to the prospective leaders, in 2012, they worked deliberately to define accountabilities, decision-making and expectations, and determine "how this would really work. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.