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Critical issues for people in organisations

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For our May article, we look at the key issues relating to people in organisations. We spoke to two alumni of Executive Education’s Strategic People Programme who offered some timely advice for senior professionals and leaders.

Greg MacDonald

Greg MacDonald is an experienced HR Professional and is currently the Regional HR Manager, Northern, Department of Corrections, Ara Poutama Aotearoa. He completed the Strategic People Programme in 2020.

What are the critical issues relating to people in organisations that senior professional should be thinking about for the future?

For many organisations in the public sector, the key is being able to move quickly. It’s about changing mindsets, not just processes and systems. Corrections is a long-standing, complex culture steeped in history that is very large with a high stakes purpose. The world is changing fast so there is a significant tension between what we know we need to do and how quickly we can move.

We need to create an environment where each of us is continuously developing new skills, but we aren’t there yet. Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional!

How do programmes such as the Strategic People Programme help senior professionals prepare for current and future issues in their industry?

These programmes help us respond to the challenges and work out with others how we prepare in advance. We can see what’s going on globally and for smaller companies in different sectors and learn from them.  It’s not that ‘this won’t happen to us’ – it will, but we may have a bit more time to think through how we prepare and respond.

No one can say any more “we’re different or special”. Being in this programme allowed me to find out how others are thinking about challenges and disruption and work out how we might prepare and adapt better.

Lara Prentice

Lara Prentice is a senior HR generalist and Operations Manager and is the People & Performance Manager for Les Mills New Zealand.

What are the critical issues relating to people in organisations that senior professionals should be thinking about for the future?

Changes in legislation such as minimum wage increases, fair pay agreements and increased leave are of genuine concern to businesses, particularly those impacted by COVID-19. Organisations may find themselves forced to take on collective agreements and that will have a real impact on the resources required to manage a unionised environment.

The government signalling changes to the contractor workforce could also be of concern to businesses if they are potentially forced to move contractors to employees.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives are an important focus for businesses, but the key is finding what’s meaningful for each business rather than risky tick-box exercises.

How do programmes such as the Strategic People Programme help senior professionals prepare for current and future issues in their industry?

Networking with people facing the same challenges but from different industries offers valuable new perspectives. A number of our cohort are still in contact and share knowledge on similar initiatives they might be working on.

The speakers and Advisory Group were excellent. There was a great variety that allowed bigger thinking around a number of different topics. Having a mentor to connect with was also really invaluable and they gave excellent advice.


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