Human resources is an indispensable part of any organization — just ask Carla Mumar if you need convincing. She has 15 years of experience in HR, organizational development, operations, and training, mostly from working at financial BPOs such as HSBC, Australia & New Zealand Bank, as well as DELL, PCCW Teleservices, and Nokia.
Now that she serves as the head of People Solutions at Bridge, we sat down with her to find out what she looks for in an HR professional — and why everyone should follow suit.
“HR professionals have to be knowledgeable about government practices, labor laws, government statutories like SSS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth; even how to make the company handbook. Being knowledgeable also applies in understanding how to run the business of people — it doesn’t have to come with a degree. It comes with your experience, both in life and in the professional world. Your life is basically something people can really relate to. How you build and manage your life is how you run human resources, because the way you handle yourselves shows how you handle people and how you react to certain things.”
“In HR, you should go above and beyond and really find solutions to every single problem you encounter. The problems you run into are out of the box, so you need a problem solver. It’s not just about being book smart; it’s more like being street smart. You have to find really odd (but legal, of course) solutions, out of the ordinary solutions, anything to make things better. A lot of HR professionals focus on what currently works and what has been working, so there’s a big percentage who are scared of stepping out of the box and executing new things. HR professionals are trained to follow the law, be by the book. but we also have to be street smart and change things to fit.”
“People in HR should be consistent at everything they do — they don’t settle for anything less than excellence. People are the most important part of any organization, so they need to be a priority, whether it’s a dispute on salary or compensations and benefits, or asking for a copy of the handbook. They are the VIPs of any organization, and they should be treated as such. We should be able to meet the needs of our most valuable resource.”
“HR professionals should be able to adapt to the changes that are happening in the company and the direction HR is gearing towards. Nowadays a lot of things are merged with technology and old practices are being forgotten, so you need someone who is process-oriented but can also easily adapt to changes and come up with better solutions and workflows to make things more efficient. The last thing you want is someone who is stuck in the stone age even when everything around you is changing and evolving.”
GOOD WITH PEOPLE
“Being good with people doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone likes you, but people come to you because they have this high regard of you and they know that you will get the job done and give them solutions to their problems. You can balance that with being candid with people, but you should also enforce the rules and discipline. You need someone who can strike the balance between being firm and fun — it takes a lot of practice and a conscious effort to do so.”
EAGER TO LEARN AND TEACHABLE
“Managing people and tech in HR is a continuous change. It’s been transforming over the past couple of years and HR professionals should go out of their way to read and enroll themselves in courses, find mentors whose brains they can pick, look for methods and ways to make HR better — not just for the organization but for the people you serve and yourself. With me, a lot of the things that I started to figure out were not just from experience but from reading. Even if the books are not HR related, you can still find something you can apply. Aside from wanting to learn more, it’s being humble enough to be corrected. Even in my case, there are so many things I don’t know and I still make mistakes. If you do something wrong, listen to the person who corrects you, regardless of whether it’s your manager or a colleague. It makes you a better person and helps you grow. Take the lesson and apply as needed.”
GRACE UNDER PRESSURE
“HR work is not easy. In the years I’ve been doing HR and operations, there are highs and lows, and all the while, your audience is the entire organization. They can’t see if you’re stressed out — you have to have a lot of optimism coming out of you. Whatever they throw at you, good or bad, you have to be able to catch them all and deliver anyway.”
“If someone focuses on sour graping and negativity, they’re not a good fit for HR. You need someone who is optimistic, grounded, and aware of what reality is but has a vision to look forward, too — someone who can listen to people and not just wait to be listened to. A lot of HR practicioners love to talk because they think they have all the answers, but you have to be a good listener too. In order to do our jobs, we have to be able to understand people.”
“When I was starting out, money was never my motivator. The dedication comes from the passion that you want to help, you want to make a difference, you know you can be a great contributor to the organization and in the lives of people. It’s not about how much the company pays you, but because of the mission or goal you have as a person in your career. Remember that you can’t buy people’s commitment; it really has to come from within.”
“No matter whether you inherited a problem or not, the fact that you are in that seat means you have to take full responsibility and own it and fix it. It never belongs to someone else. There’s no room for blame games — that shows immaturity. When something is passed on to you, you don’t make excuses for it. You look at the problem and you solve it, and just own it completely. It’s your job to do it, so you have to make it happen no matter what — that’s where resourcefulness comes in.”