Home' HR Monthly : October 2016 Contents Photography:ShannonMorris
where all the cool people wear black, amateur actors and singers,
and you become the treasurer of those clubs and the person who
makes sure everything works. Sooner or later, a couple of those
guys are going to go off to Hollywood and become movie stars.
Who are they going to call on to get their advice? You.
“When you’re giving them advice and making all of this ex tra
money in negotiating, you’re going to say, ‘Actually, I’d really
like a cameo in the movie’. And the actor says, ‘I’ll speak to the
director’ and before you know it, you’re in Hollywood!”
You need to set the romantic image of where you want to go
and take your core skill with you and make it happen.
LG: Well, let me give you a challenge. Let’s romance the HR
profession. Same group, open day, they’ve come in, they heard
about this thing HR, and your job is to romance the HR profession.
What does that look like?
AM: Well, I think they’ve probably got an even more inherent
advantage in that their role is about spotting, recruiting and
retaining talent. One of the great roles in the marketplace is
someone who goes out and searches.
If I rang you tomorrow and said: “Hey, we’ve watched what
you’ve done in your role and we’d just like you to come in and
talk to us; we’ve got some potential opportunities”, 99 per cent
of people, even if they’re deliriously happy in their current jobs,
will go in to talk.
To be the person who spots talent, places talent and takes
care of talent is a step ahead of a lot of professions. Part
of the challenge that the accountant has is being a better
communicator. They’ve got a product that most humans don’t
like but they need.
Whereas HR has got a product that most people want, or feel
they want. How you project that and how you add value to the
business and the individual becomes the real opportunity.
LG: What are your top three leadership qualities?
AM: Top of the tree: authenticity. People don’t have to like you
but they need to believe you. The second is observation skills. If
you don’t observe well, then your communication is going to be
ill-timed. Too many leaders seem to be talking at people and no
Those two are so high on the agenda that there’s daylight
before the next one, which is to ‘take people with you’. Every
now and then, look around and see if you’re out on your own
or if there are people behind bumping into you, because if
LG: AHRI and CPA Australia are collaborating on a joint research
project on ethics. Our constituents, obviously, share similar
compliance obligations. While there are certain things you must
do or not do, where do you see accountancy being exposed in
terms of ethical behaviour?
AM: We’re all contributing to the culture that we live within,
and that is defined by human behaviours: the good, the bad
and the ugly.
When I chaired the Office of Policy Integrity’s Audit and Risk
Committee – when it was a covert agency – the only way I could
get to the bottom of things was to get people talking. For me,
governance is about being comfortable to have any conversation
that you need to have, whether it be positive or negative. The
most ju nior member of staff should feel comfortable speaking to
the most senior member of staff about something that concerns
them in the organisation.
In accounting, there are a whole lot of transactions that
some may judge are not within the confines of ethics. It’s the
accountancy professional’s responsibility to call it out, just as it
is for a H R professional to call out how staff might be treated.
Even if it’s the senior leadership team that’s perpetrating that
behaviou r, they’ve got to have the strength of professional
character to call it out.
I’m not naïve, I recognise that can have huge ramifications but
the one thing that gets you to the destination you seek is to have
a real comfort about your own ability to be reemployed.
I guess my most powerful principle as a CEO is that, at the
back of my mind, I’m okay if I lose my job. It means when I meet
a politician who matters to our profession, I can say exactly what
I think. I can look them in the eye and say: “Well, you know, I’m
willing to lose my job over this. I hope you are.”
LG: In what ways do you think the two professions can collaborate
on the issue of ethical behaviour?
AM: At the core of the HR and the accounting professional role
is strategic resource management, right? Perhaps we all have
slightly different types of resources under our responsibility,
but in the end, the most ethical thing you can do in a society of
limited resources is manage them appropriately.
Concepts such as environmentalism and conservation need
to be embedded into our professions. The strategic perspective
on that, the value to the staff and to stakeholders of doing that
properly, could really re-engage the two professional groups.
Accountants are struggling with this still, but are starting to
recognise that soft skills really matter.
It’s about both of the professional groups recognising that
governance, resource management, people, communication and
culture are not confined to one or the other profession. They’re
achieved through the combined efforts of both.
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