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INTERVIEW WITH HEAD, HUMAN RESOURCE, FIDSON HEALTHCARE PLC, MRS ADEJOKE ALLI

  • 1.INSIGHT INTO PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE

I am a Pharmacist by training and I graduated from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. I joined Fidson Healthcare Plc in April 2007, as a Medical Sales Rep and grew through the ranks to the positions of Regional Sales Coordinator and Regional Sales Manager, Lagos.

My career underwent a paradigm shift in August 2011, when I ventured into the field of Learning and Development (L&D) as Training Manager for the Sales and Marketing Department. This later changed to encompass the whole organization. I moved into mainstream HR after a few years, as the Head of Human Resources, which is the position I occupy today. Over the last few years, I have attended several courses in Learning & Development and Human Resource Management, outside and within Nigeria. It has also provided access to a network of reliable HR practitioners. I also have a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a specialization track in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, UK. All these have helped in shaping the HR strategies that have added value to my organization and human capital within.

 

  • 2.WHAT IS IT LIKE TO MANAGE PEOPLE AND PERFORMANCE IN THE CORPORATE WORLD

I would say that managing people whether in the corporate world or not, is one of the toughest jobs anyone can undertake. It is however a critical role, particularly if you want them to perform at desired levels. In the corporate world where you have many individuals making up your workforce, there is a mix of different kinds of people in terms of performance abilities and generational differences. It is therefore more challenging to provide a performance management system that is robust enough to engage your workforce at the various levels at which they operate.

Having said that, being passionate about what you do keeps you striving at providing the best. At Fidson we push ourselves to provide those things that are important to our people and keep them engaged. Therefore to effectively manage people and performance in the corporate world, employee engagement must be top of the list of the HR as well as part of the organization’s main strategies.

 

  • 3.HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PRACTICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT IN A COUNTRY WITH A HUGE AND COMPETITIVE WORKFORCE

Personnel management also known as human resource management, basically involves sourcing, organizing, integrating, rewarding and satisfying employees such that they are able to contribute fully to the achievement of organizational goals. Nigeria with its large population and huge workforce has experienced challenges in the practice of personnel management. The first area would be the general mindset towards personnel management. Traditionally, the Human Resource department was seen as the one solely in charge of this. However it has become evident that managing personnel is an organization-wide responsibility starting with supervisors, managers, unit heads and so on. As long as you have someone reporting to you, you are actually involved in personnel management. Thankfully many organizations are gradually recognizing and embracing this reality. This has impacted positively in organizations’ ability to effectively manage their workforce.

Another area worthy of mention is the sourcing and recruitment of the right personnel for job roles. As mentioned earlier, the size of our workforce and the realization that there are not as many jobs available to this workforce has made the work place even more competitive. Interestingly many human resource professionals would argue that even with the abundance of job seekers, getting the right employee for a particular job has become a more daunting task due to current business expectations such as increased drive for results, shorter time to competence and the need to do more with less. HR professionals have had to develop more ingenious ways of attracting and retaining the best talent.

Amidst these and other challenges, there have been positive developments that have changed the practice of personnel management in Nigeria. One of such is the presence of The Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), which has and continues to serve as a regulator of the practice of Human Resource Management in Nigeria. CIPM also promotes knowledge, information and skills to assist professionals and organizations in the science and practice of personnel management.

 

  • 4.GRADUAL DEARTH OF COMPETENCE

I believe I answered this partly under the previous question. There is an explanation for the “gradual dearth of competence” experienced by many organizations. A major reason is the fact that the business world is changing so fast that the skills and knowledge required for survival are readily available to fewer individuals. Organizations are constantly pushing their standards and expecting their workforce to rise up to these increasing demands. Unfortunately the number of individuals who have the competences to match up to these standards gets fewer by the day and such individuals are becoming even more difficult to identify. What type of individuals are we talking about here? Those smart enough to innovate and adapt to business changes and challenges within the shortest possible time. In other words they are able to develop new skills and competencies and apply them as the situation demands.

For this reason you may say that there is a dearth of competence particularly when you look at it in the context of increasing demands and fresh competencies needed for survival in the current and even for future business.

 

  • 5.PECULIARITY/UNIQUENESS OF FIDSON WORKFORCE AND ACHIEVEMENT OF BUSINESS OBJECTIVES OVER THE YEARS

I have always believed that at Fidson we have some of the best talent within and outside our industry. This cuts across all cadres of staff. Having spent many years at Fidson growing through the ranks, I have come to see that the average Fidsonian has a “can do” and “never give up” spirit that makes us rise up to challenges and surmount same, especially when it counts.

We have a culture of learning, which continuously drives us to acquire knowledge from our experiences as well as others. It also drives us to innovate.

At Fidson, we run an open door policy that provides all with an enabling environment to share best practices with one another. We constantly seek to excel at what we do and we are very competitive. This drives us to achieve our business objectives which is clear from our performance in the industry over the last couple of years till now. I assure you that we do not plan to rest on our oars. I believe we have only just begun.

 

  • 6.ORGANIZATION’S STRATEGY FOR STAFF MOTIVATION, RETENTION AND PERFORMANCE

Our strategy at Fidson Healthcare Plc is simple. We ensure employees are fully engaged on the job by providing competitive remuneration & benefit packages, we ensure reward and recognition of staff, promote healthy work-life balance and provide opportunities for learning and career development. All these are sure to keep staff motivated as well as increase work performance and results.

 

  • 7.BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS HEAD OF HR, SO FAR

Hmmm. I believe the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far on the job and still continue to face is more from a leadership perspective. Leading the HR team (which is still young in terms of time spent together), sharing my vision of what HR should be, how we should support our business objectives and keeping the team on track has been challenging but rewarding as well. The ability to push my team beyond what they are comfortable with so that we can exceed expectations has kept me and continues to keep me on my toes.

What I sincerely appreciate about leading the team is their ability to critique some of the strategies and decisions laid on the table and at the end of the day sometimes provide a better way of achieving or implementing same. There are also times when they see some of these decisions from my point of view as well and they are able to run with the vision. All in all it has proved to be challenging to lead the HR team effectively but it is a challenge that I wouldn’t change at all.

 

  • 8.CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, CREDIBILITY AND BEST PRACTICE ON EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP

Achieving a good employer-employee relationship is the responsibility of leadership (at all levels) in any organization as well as the HR department whose main role is to provide guidance and direction to the key players in the organization. At Fidson, our leadership at the highest levels, is hinged on good governance. It is highly responsible and trustworthy. As such, people’s issues are top on our priority list and you’ll agree with me that you can’t go wrong when you treat your employees with the consideration they deserve. Employees have therefore learned to trust the organization to provide the best and lead them in the right direction.

This has also made it very easy for the HR department to implement strategies and programmes that are supportive of employee engagement. Because employees trust the employer, they are willing to perform optimally which in turn ensures the organization achieves the desired results.

 

  • 9.HEALTHY WORK LIFE BALANCE FOR STAFF

We are a healthcare company and our motto is “We Value Life”. We don’t just mouth this slogan but live by it. As part of our efforts to ensure work life balance, we ensure employees actually take time off work when required such as during their leave or vacation periods. We have a gym facility at our Head Office where staff can keep fit through work out exercises. Health talks are organized frequently for staff on various health issues both preventive and maintenance. We also have a unique wellness period at work that encourages staff to stretch their legs at particular times. The company promotes a wellness blog which provides additional information on health and wellness to staff and even non staff. There are so many other examples of healthy living initiatives that we implement that are too many to be mentioned here.

 

  • 10.CONDUCIVE WORKING CONDITIONS AT FIDSON IN RELATION TO SAFETY, HEALTH AND WELL BEING

If you have visited our Head office at Obanikoro, you will agree with me that it rivals any modern office in and outside the country. The work environment both at our Head Office and Factory are conducive for all staff to operate maximally. This is expected to improve greatly with the launch of our World Class Biotech factory.

As regards, HSE, we have a committee in charge of ensuring and educating all staff on HSE issues. Each site has an HSE site coordinator that ensures that safety issues are addressed. Examples of programmes organized for staff include safety drills and safety talks. We also carry out in house safety audits of our premises. We have site clinics which are equipped to provide first aid to all our staff when needed. As a healthcare company we do try our best to ensure the safety of everyone within our premises.

 

  • 11.STRIKING A HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE

A healthy work life balance is definitely important no matter one’s work schedule or portfolio. I believe I put in my best while at work, however I had to draw the line from taking extra work home. Once I shut down my laptop for the day, I try not to go back to it till I’m back at work the next day. Other means of communication such as my mobile phones suffice for any emergency situations that could require my attention.

Notwithstanding I relax by spending quality time with my family and friends. I also ensure I go on vacation at least once a year outside public holidays declared by the Federal Government to unwind and catch lots of rest. I like to read and write as well, although I haven’t done much leisure writing in a while but I could pick up a book that interests me and read it at my leisure time. All in all I try to keep a balanced life because as they say “all work and no play….” …you can fill in the gaps!

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