Top Strategic Human Resource Initiatives for the 21st Century – A Discussion with Sheila Forte-Trammell

Sheila Forte-Trammell, Total HR Services, LLC

Sheila Forte-Trammell, Total HR Services, LLC

During my 31-year career at IBM, one of the most remarkable and insightful Human Resources leaders I worked with was Sheila Forte-Trammell. After over 30 years herself in IBM in a diverse range of HR leadership roles in recruiting, placement, compensation, diversity, learning and employee development, she has now retired and consults as the owner of Total HR Services, LLC.

Recently I had a discussion with Sheila about the most key strategic areas in the future for human resources professionals. In this blog I share Sheila’s insights and in part 2 Sheila and I will discuss more of her accomplishments and current projects.

STAN: Sheila, as a globally recognized expert on a broad range of human resources topics, what would you say must be the key focus for HR leaders from today on into the future?
SHEILA: The 21st Century has presented a variety of new challenges and business complexities that HR Leaders are grappling with. Because organizations are functioning in a competitive knowledge economy, it makes it important for leaders to create processes for employees to acquire the right business skills in a timely manner. Speed to competence, learning agility, innovative application of knowledge and the easy distribution of relevant information throughout the organization have become critical in maintaining competitiveness.

STAN: How does leadership development and succession planning fit in with this complex business environment?
SHEILA: Now more than ever, the development of the leadership pipeline has taken center stage. No longer should HR leaders restrict the use of succession planning as a means to identify the next generation of executive leaders. The succession planning process must be expanded to include the identification of critical technical and key functional skills at all levels of the organization. This approach ensures there is an adequate pool of employees who have these capabilities to execute on the tactical and strategic plans.

STAN: Sheila, can you talk a little more about this expansion of succession planning to a broader set of employees. Why is this so important?
SHEILA: Many organizations are “lowering the center of gravity” whereby, allowing business decisions to be made at lower levels within the organization. Thus, the new normal is to create a high trust culture where knowledge transfer is occurring. In addition, employees must be encouraged to take bold but intelligent actions which deliver measurable results. Empowering employees in this manner helps them to feel a sense of value.

STAN: What is the role of HR leaders in fostering this broader employee and leadership development environment?
SHEILA: When employees feel that they are valued, engagement and retention tend to be high. Given the dynamic and disruptive nature of business today, HR leaders have to communicate business vision with better clarity and help employees develop greater flexibility and adaptability to perform in an ever changing environment. HR leaders are expected to help employees to develop the skills to show resilience and resolve in the face of challenge. This way, instead of retreating they are able to see the business opportunities that reside within disruption, challenge and crisis.

STAN: Thank you, Sheila. In Part 2, I look forward to discussing your accomplishments, books and current projects.

ADDED LATER: Now here is the link to read part 2!

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Sheila Forte-Trammell is now the owner of Total HR Services, LLC. Her professional information is available via LinkedIn (Link to Sheila’s Profile.)

A Great Half Day Learning About Aligning Career, Corporate Culture and Communications Styles

Jill high resolution
On November 21, I attended the half day “Master Series” offered by TSHRM – the Triangle Society for Human Resource Management. The session was titled ““S.H.A.Z.A.A.M…..Your Career, Your Culture and Your Corporation, Aligning Personal Career Pathing, Employee Engagement & Leadership Communications” – yes, a long title. The speaker was Jill A. Kopanis, who in addition to being an inspirational speaker is a proven successful HR leader for a graphics and digital solutions firm in Ohio.

Jill covered three major themes, a whole lot of territory, in a very well organized and dynamic fashion:

THEME 1 – the importance of first effectively driving your own personal career development. She used the acronym of “SHAZAAM!”

S – Setting your own goals, priorities and dreams Shazaam
H – Hold backs not allowed
A – Attitude will determine your altitude – how high and far you will go
Z – One check, are you staying in your comfort zone? Why?
A – Adjust your sails, your direction, if need be to reach new heights
A – Apply yourself and begin to soar
M – Make it happen!!

THEME 2 – As Human Resource Professionals, once we are in control of our own careers, we can lead the work to greatly impact employee engagement within the companies we work. Instead of demanding a seat at the table as HR leaders , we must earn that seat at the senior leadership table by providing extraordinary value add. Jill used the acronym “Race Toward Engagement”
• Recognize the value, the importance of engagement
• Acknowledge each individual employee
• Champion a culture of engagement
• Engage the entire workforce
I myself have frequently blogged about how personnel is often the largest investment and competitive differentiator within a company (see blog on this discussion), and I offer my unique Total Engagement Career Mapping services to energize employees through engaging them in career development based on successful examples from within their company.

THEME 3 – Effectively Using Communication Styles. Jill ended the session by reviewing four very different communication styles that people have. The critical learning from this session is that if we understand our own communication style, and then the various styles of others, we can then make the necessary adjustments to more effectively lead, build bridges and establish a culture of trust.


TO CONTACT JILL: As a speaker, Jill combined both an engaging and entertaining style with well organized, meaningful, practical content. To explore her as a speaker, contact Jill, SHAZAAM Communications, at [email protected] Note – Jill will be a speaker on Employee Engagement at the 2014 SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) National Conference on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Link to her session info.