The Pedals Behind Human Resource Management

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Mr. John Mwaura, HR, Syngenta Kenya Cuttings.
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An engaged, communicator and goal-oriented man who is keen to impact positive change in the work place.

By Catherine Kuria

Before the white man came, our fore fathers had never set foot in a classroom, heck they didn’t even know what education was. Growing up, I was told that if I wanted to have a successful career, I had to go to school and earn a degree. I strongly believe that you don’t have to have a degree to be successful; I dare you to prove me wrong. While hunting for a job, we always address our application letters to the Human Resource Manager. Ever wondered why every organization has a Human Resource department?

Edward L. Gubman observed in the Journal of Business Strategy that the basic mission of human resources will always be to acquire, develop, and retain talent; align the workforce with the business and be an excellent contributor to the business. Those three challenges will never revamp. In the past, an organization’s human resources department was often consigned to lower ranks of the corporate hierarchy, despite the fact that its mandate is to replenish and nourish what is often cited as an organization’s greatest resource, its work force.

In the recent years recognition of the importance of Human Resource Management to a company’s overall health has grown dramatically. This recognition has extended to both small and medium scale businesses. Mr. John Muhia Mwaura is the Human Resource Manager at Syngenta Kenya Cuttings. He is very passionate about managing and leading people.

As a Human Resource Management expert, he forms the foundation supporting the way the company’s human capital operates. For example, formulating a method for measuring and analyzing the effects of a particular employee rewards program. Other examples include the creation of a program to reduce work-related injuries, building a framework to ensure employment laws are adhered to, and constructing avenues through which employees will have opportunities for advancement.

 

Role as the Human Resource Manager

As a HR Manager, Mr. Mwaura is tasked with the role of employee championing. He plays part in reminding the management of its morals obligations towards its employees. He also acts as the mediator or peace-maker, in instances where there are differences of opinion and misunderstan­ding between the management and the employee or between employees themselves. He also serves as a communication link between the parties.

Mr. Mwaura conveys that, “I’m a change agent. Change is something that is always resisted by the employees. As the HR I act as a change agent in order to bring about a change on the existing system or an introduction of a new system in the work place.” He also a strategic partner; where he contributes to the development and the accomplishment of the organization-wide business plans and objectives. He ensures that the Human Resource Department business objectives are established to support the attainment of the overall strategic business plan and objectives.

He has worked in different fields at different capacities and says that, “Training and Development was the most exciting one because it helps employees improve their skill sets and careers. Being in charge of designing the most effective coursework for employees, given the content the employer wants to emphasize, while keeping training sessions entertaining and informative is simply amazing. Besides, it helps employees to learn and improve their lives.”

A lot of pressure and constant craving for success comes from being tasked with the responsibility of spearheading certain projects. However, the joy of a well-done is immeasurable.  In his current position, Mr. Mwaura has spearheaded several projects to success. “The move to Human Resources Management Information System from the old manual way of working will go down to history. This has helped to improve efficiency across the organization. It has also made life simpler and more efficient for employees and line managers thereby bringing significant financial benefit to the business through ongoing year-on-year savings,” he notes.

Attributes that drive him

Mr. Mwaura is a strategic thinker. He aligns himself with the company’s goals by learning what those goals are and supporting them. HR is more than just a department in an organization; it is the heart of the organization.

He is a curious man who is always keen on discovering and learning new concepts every day.  He is always up to date with things happening as a result of the pace and volume of change in the industry and allocates time for networking both physically and through the various online platforms. He hilariously refers to social media as the ‘salvation of mankind’.

Being a full partner, he collaborates with each department head in the organization individually to learn what their needs are and what they expect from human resource department. Collaboration is the best way to get HR ideas and practices accepted and implemented in the organization.

“As a HR I frequently visit the places our employees work. They have become familiar with me and more open to asking questions and voicing their concerns. I have become more acquainted with the context of the issues I must deal with,” he says. By so doing, employees appreciate his presence and his fellow managers are more comfortable with his ideas. He is seen as part of the team rather than the HR person who hides behind policies. This has given him a chance to handle issues before they become major problems.

Trends in the HR industry

This is a wide and dynamic field. Discrimination in employment especially in recruitment where equity to all is mandatory during the exercise is still a constant nudge. It’s the responsibility of the HR to prove that all forms of discrimination are discouraged. Labour outsourcing is another growing trend in the HR field. The HR is mandated to ensure that the outsourcing companies are registered; they comply with all legal requirements and are conversant with the occupier liabilities like occupational health and safety of the outsourced employees.

Rights and duties is another matter. The terms and conditions of employment specified in the Employment Act form the basic minimum for a contract of service. However, where the terms and conditions of service regulated by collective bargaining agreement, contract of employment, judgment award or other written law is better than what is specified in the Act such favorable terms and conditions is to apply. Other trends include Employee Separation, annual leave, maternity leave and employee redundancy.

Advice to young people about careers

Mr. Mwaura counsels the youth should keep dreaming like they are still five-year-old kids. The only difference they should make is working towards achieving their dreams. They will encounter people who will tell them that their dreams are either unrealistic or too big to achieve but he says that they should remember what they say about dreams, “if it is not big enough to make others laugh at you, it is not a dream worth working on.”

Developing an entrepreneurial culture is a huge labor market challenge. With the high unemployment rate and organizations shedding jobs, creating sustainable employment is vital. Many organizations have downsized, reducing their staff to an extent that will never be upped to higher levels. Who will be creating sustainable employment in the long term? We have to develop an entrepreneurial culture and encourage creativity as a country.

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