Seven Questions With Sheryl Friend

In the fourth of our series of OrgDev Institute (ODi) interviews with leading Human Resource and OrgDev professionals, we asked Sheryl Friend seven questions.

Sheryl FriendParticipant:  Sheryl Friend
Role: Human Services Manager
Organisation: John Deere
LinkedIn Profile:  Sheryl Friend

Seven Questions With Sheryl Friend

Q1: ODi’s goal that drives everything we do is to ‘make the world a better place with happier, more productive people’. What are you most passionate about in your career and why?

Sheryl Friend: Assisting organisations and people to be the best they can be is fundamentally what I’m passionate about.

This means different things at different times.

Sometimes it’s about trying to put life into a new strategy;

Sometimes about delivering bad news; Sometimes it’s about trusting instinct and believing in yourself and others to look for unique solutions to achieving business solutions

Sometimes it’s about helping organisations remember to look at the impacts on the human beings in it all.

I think these things are all important.

Q2: What do you believe will have the biggest impact on HR in your industry in the next two years and why?

Your Industry Changes:

Sheryl Friend: How do we build a workforce of the future given that John Deere is in Agricultural machinery?

It’s no longer just about selling iron, it’s about selling a solution which assists our customers to achieve their goals.

Technology is integral to our customers businesses   we need to be able to deliver relevant and timely solutions.

Impacts for OrgDev / HR:

Sheryl Friend: How does HR build our readiness for the future workforce?

John Deere like most companies has commenced a more intentional dialogue on addressing skills shortages regionally, nationally and globally.  In particular for our channel partners that of trade and technical skills.

We cannot do this alone – there needs to be a lot of good will from governments, industry, educators and individuals to tackle skills and workforce shortages.  It seems to me – Regionally Australia is particularly challenged.

People have a negative view of agricultural technician roles. They don’t realise that being a skilled technician isn’t just about manual labour. Roles now include high skill levels in areas such as electronics, hydraulics, automation etc.  Being a technician for John Deere is a very skilled role.

We need to re-shape the way we think about the trades. University education produces wonderful people with great skills, but we need the technicians/trades to keep things working.

Thinking about robotics and AI – I don’t believe we have thought enough about the needs that come with implementing such technologies.

What is the role of the human in relation to technological advances?

Technology impacts our work and personal lives, this impact will continue to expand.  However it is a form of communicating without emotion and in some cases consequence.

We must learn how to stay relevant in our human relations as the digital age expands.

Q3: What product / service would you most like to see available to help HR/OrgDev professionals?

Sheryl Friend:  HR skills development: I think from an industry perspective; HR professionals should not hide behind the role of administrator / organisational policeman.

They must become true business partners and really understand the vision  their leaders are trying to implement –  have the skills to be involved in that dialogue –  have the skills,  earned respect and credibility  to productively assist businesses to realise their goals.  To be the trusted advisor.

There are many more people now that have these skills, but it is still a developing arm of the HR profession.

We need to be very mindful that we don’t take the humanness out of HR as technology improves.

Q4: Many of us have similar challenges, what major challenge do you have that you would like to hear someone else’s experience in a similar situation, and how it unfolded.

Sheryl Friend: As I go into design, forward thinking and strategizing mode, I’d like to hear examples of how one equips an organisation and its leaders to be ready for the workforce of the future?

Q5: What experience have you had recently that was a great learning for you (positive or difficult) that you would be prepared to share with peers?

Sheryl Friend: I get very busy and very involved and within our organisation we feed off each other. Recently I attended an industry workshop and came away extremely refreshed and invigorated by learning from others. Something I don’t do enough of.

This reminded me of the importance of building and maintaining a wider network outside of one’s usual group to share ideas with and learn from.

Also, the power of having great data analytics, being able to interpret it and impact business decisions because you can add those insights.

Recently we investigated the health of our Culture Safety  – our survey was built on the theory of “Intentional Behavior”  Testing to a theory and then having access to excellent data analytic resources has enabled us to inform the business about safety and human behaviour in a way we have not been able to do previously.  The outcomes have been transformational and enabled the company to place resources and energy in more appropriate areas.

Q6: What’s the biggest challenge you’d like our audience to share their experiences of with you and why?

Sheryl Friend: As I’ve mentioned earlier, building and maintaining the workforce of the future is our biggest challenge.

If anyone has a magic button for regional staffing of skilled people, please tell me!

Q7: What’s the best piece of wisdom you’d like to gift?

Sheryl Friend: There are a few things I try to be mindful of:

  • Work on yourself so that you can be more productive with others
  • Seek to serve – not to be a servant but serve.
  • Always listen to understand;
  • Every day, seek to achieve something, learn something and have fun!

Have a Question For Sheryl?

If you have a question for Sheryl or would like to share your learning, please either contact us (quoting this post) or reach out to Sheryl via LinkedIn.

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