Forbes: Meet Lisa Whealon, Chief People Officer at GL group
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
written by Forbes HR Council
Meet Lisa Whealon, Chief People Officer at GL group
"By focusing on giving your teams the tools they need, the support they crave, and the development they want, you will grow your bottom line."
Forbes Human Resources Council members are the leading HR directors and executives from companies across all industries. As experts in leadership and management, they know the key components of running a successful organization and building strong communities from the ground up. To help you learn from them, we’re profiling Forbes Human Resources Council members here on the blog. This week: Lisa Whealon.
Lisa Whealon is chief people officer at GL group, a family of educational companies dedicated to finding creative solutions that bring learning and imagination to children. With 11 years of leadership experience, Lisa oversees talent strategy, employee engagement, and corporate communications.
How did your career as a human resources executive take off, and what do you attribute your success to most?
Fifteen years ago, I was working for a big-box retailer and was excited about learning all aspects of the business. I was slated as a high-potential employee and quickly began moving to various roles within the business. I learned everything from operations and logistics to sales and customer service. Learning what makes a business, process and team successful made me realize it all comes back to people. From that moment, I began to focus on development as a key ingredient. This blossomed into success within my teams and helping other teams become successful.
What has served me well in any HR role I have formally or informally held has been my passion for understanding people as well as the business. You cannot be successful in any HR role today if you don’t have a firm pulse on what the business truly needs. I have always taken it upon myself to learn processes within our business as well as gain an intimate understanding of the landscape of our industries. Without this knowledge, it’s hard to proactively plan for an organization’s needs in the future, not to mention it gives you insight into possible areas that might need more support from an HR angle. Anyone who joins our HR team is required to cross-train within other groups (buying, customer care, sales, operations, etc.) so that they can truly gauge how they might help support and grow the business. Take the time to consistently learn and understand the current business so you can be part of identifying future trends.
HR execs have to wear many hats to ensure the internal operations of their organization are well taken care of. How do you balance the juggling of many roles (i.e. recruitment, onboarding, benefits, performance management)?
In HR, no two days are the same. This is what keeps me excited about my work, but at times, it’s challenging to manage all aspects of responsibility. As a leader, it’s imperative that you hire smart people, develop their skills, then get out of their way! Trusting your team to truly own areas that they are responsible for is key to successfully being able to wear many hats. No matter the size or scope of your HR team, there is always an opportunity to develop and delegate. If you feel that you don’t have anyone you can trust to take on certain areas or tasks, I would encourage you to take a good look at your team and ask yourself if they’re the right fit. If they are capable, are you holding them back? No one can accomplish greatness without the help and support of others.
What do you see as the future of the HR industry?
I see HR continuing to shift into more business strategy and automation with less of a “behind the scenes” focus. In order to be seen as a leader within their business, HR professionals must get out and showcase their understanding, support, and leadership in all areas of the business.
What is your best HR leadership or strategy tip for businesses?
Put people first, always. By focusing on giving your teams the tools they need, the support they crave, and the development they want, you will grow your bottom line. When employees feel valued and heard, they are more engaged, which shows in the work they do every day and how they treat your customers. Share numbers with employees and let them be a part of the strategy for growth. By letting them in, you will gain their trust and loyalty. When multiplied, these qualities go a long way.