Lead and Follow by Example

LG Electronics’ head of human resources, Anne Bloom, exemplifies the need for leaders to adapt to whatever role their business needs

With more than twenty years of human resources experience both at the corporate level and as a consultant, Anne Bloom has crafted a philosophy that seems to be a winning formula: think about what is best for the organization as a whole, not just the human resources department.

“HR has changed over the years,” Bloom says. “Back in the eighties or nineties, it was the hiring, it was the firing, it was the compensation. It had nothing to do with collaboration with the leadership team and the business to help the business be successful. As an HR executive, I need to do what’s right for the business, I need to listen to the business. I need to speak with my colleagues to understand how an initiative may negatively or positively impact the way they do business. I work toward providing benefits, results, and solutions to initiatives that have a positive impact.”

It’s that kind of business moxie that led LG Electronics, a global leader in electronics, to bring her aboard in August 2015.

Succeeding in the Great White North

Bloom is an expert on educating business leaders about what strategies work best in Canada. Here are three necessities to getting the job done:

Listen
As an HR executive, I need to do what’s right for the business, so I need to listen to the business. I need to speak with my leader colleagues to understand how an initiative may negatively or positively impact the way they do business.

Ask questions
Oftentimes, you have to ask a lot of questions to get to the right question to get the answer that you need; you don’t know what you don’t know until the right question is asked and answered. It’s being able to read between the lines and see the bigger picture.

Ensure proper training
I need to make sure that proper training, development, and thought process is in place. I need to make sure that I have initiatives in place to attract, retain, and engage the right people.

At the company, Bloom serves as head of human resources in Canada, supporting 267 employees across the country. She reports to both the Canadian CEO as well as the world headquarters and works with the business unit leaders throughout Canada—both within sales and outside of sales roles—by aligning compensation and business partnering needs that make sense for all parties.

“I lead a team of four HR people, two HR business partners, one payroll compensation person, and one finance for HR person,” Bloom says. “My role here is both strategic and tactical; to act as a business partner to the leadership team and to the CEO, ensuring that we are putting in best practices that make sense for the business.”

Bloom is able to be an effective team leader as the head of HR, but also an effective team member and business partner as part of the larger global HR LG Electronics team. “I’m not sure you can separate them because, as part of the global team, it comes down to educating your global colleagues around what works in Canada from an ESA [Employee Standards Act] point of view, from the legislative and compliance point of view, and from a risk point of view,” she says. “There are specific legislations—AODA [Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act], health and safety, ESA—that are very different from the United States, for example, and very different from EMEA [Europe, the Middle East, and Africa]. It’s making sure that knowledge and education is cascaded down so that everybody understands the differences and what we’re all working toward.”

Perfect Partners

Bloom hired her team members for their insights, skills, and abilities, making collaboration integral to company success.

I have always told my team, ‘You want to come to me with a problem, make sure you have solutions,’” Bloom says. “Let’s talk about it. I’m not going to give you the solution until you’ve given me what you think we should do.’ So you collaborate by allowing people to have their say, making sure that they can communicate openly without fear of retribution, and then you talk about it.”*

While that’s somewhat time-consuming, Bloom feels it’s the only way she knows how to lead. “I’m very supportive. I’m very collaborative. I listen a lot,” she says. People use the term ‘open-door policy,’ but I literally do. When somebody walks into my office, I will stop whatever I’m doing and listen to them. I’ll give them the time that they need for however long it takes, because that’s what I have to do. It’s being open, honest, and transparent.”

LG’s Next Leader

With all she does, Bloom’s core focus remains on growing LG. “My number one way of building the brand is to engage the people so that they’re really excited about getting out of bed in the morning and coming into work,” she says. “They’re really excited about living the LG way, being at an organization that respects, that understands, that values them as an individual—you do that by the way that you attract, retain, and engage. That that’s the way to build success.”

One of the themes Bloom has for 2016 revolves around attraction, retention, engagement, and going to market and finding the right people with the skills, education, capability, knowledge, and passion for their careers.

“I’ve taken our talent and put them into three distinct areas—emerging talent, key talent, and HIPOs [High Potentials], and making sure that the HIPOs are identified, recognized, and trained to be the future leaders of the organization,” Bloom says. “I also make sure that we promote from within, ensuring that you have a succession plan that is communicated and followed.”

It’s her belief that, as an HR leader, she must have transparency and open communication with the whole company, because everybody needs to know and understand expectations.

“My job is to find my successor because I don’t know how long I’m going to be here,” she says. “I certainly want my successor to come from within, and the only way I can do that is to coach, mentor, guide, and advise so that my team grows to be the future leaders of the world.”

*Continuing the conversation with . . .

Erin Geldard, Cogeco Connexion:
“I agree that the leader cannot be the only one with ideas and solutions. We need to challenge and enable our teams to make decisions. The employee may have a great idea or at least it can act as a springboard for another one.”

“At some point, you may need to make a clear decision. When do you know that you have fully exhausted the solutions from the team before making this decision?”

Bloom: “Almost immediately. You know what is ‘right’ for the company and what makes sense. Helping employees understand that through coaching and offering choices helps them reach and understand why the decision is being made. HR supports the business and decisions are made on what is right.”