Here is our fourth edition of “Human resources management: insights by…”, a series of monthly interviews that gives a voice to those for whom resources are above all humans. Whether they are HR, managers, business leaders or researchers, they all share with us their vision of the working world and its transformations.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Nathalie Tiberghien, Data & Digital HR Officer at Decathlon. She tells us about her career in HR and shares her point of view on the evolution of the position and the human issues that companies are facing today.
Data & Digital HR Officer, Decathlon
What is your relationship with HR, and what is your professional background?
I have been working for Decathlon for 29 years. I first worked in the field (in the stores) as a manager and 20 years ago, I joined the Human Resources department. As a local HR person, I developed a strong interest in everything related to management, development, and responsibility of teams. In this context, I became very interested in the subject of soft skills.
My second interest is to document and clarify human policies, tools and methods in order to make Human Capital development challenges accessible to the greatest number of people.
Today, I am a Data and Digital HR advisor. I lead a people data project and the digitalization of HR processes and the employee experience.
From your point of view, what are the human issues currently facing the company? Is the Human factor enough taken into account?
HR have to deal with a certain complexity. We have to juggle with three temporal considerations: the company’s past (its culture, its history, its rituals, …), short-term current affairs (recruiting talent, training, managing crises, setting up teleworking …) and the future anticipation since multiple transformations are to be carried out (transformation of the business model, digital, skills, managerial transformation, etc.). It is a real challenge to manage short-term issues, and at the same time to look to the future.
What helps us is that people are at the heart of every project at Decathlon. Since its creation in 1976, our Founder & CEO has conveyed this vision. Our philosophy is to believe in people and their ability to develop and take responsibility. This vision is reflected in numerous examples, such as a manager does not accompany more than 10 to 15 employees in order to be as close as possible to them’, as well as ‘we invest a lot in training to allow each employee to increase his or her skills’, or even ‘each employee is given an individual mission’.
Similarly, we have been measuring a key indicator for 20 years: “I enjoy coming to work every morning”. This measure is considered as an economic KPI.
As I said earlier, at Decathlon we encourage autonomy and initiative in the field, everyone is encouraged to behave like a mini entrepreneur. Yet, this can work when there is a vision, projects, clear frameworks, and a common language. Thus, a good alignment.
We have been measuring a key indicator for 20 years: enjoying coming to work every morning. This measure is considered as an economic KPI.
What is your vision of HR today?
It’s an incredibly rich job, I’m never bored. Our job is to take care of and develop human capital (in the same way as we talk about health capital, financial capital or natural capital). Human Capital is the greatest asset of a company, it must be made to grow, to sublimate. That’s why we take the time with managers, during their onboarding, to pass on this responsibility.
First, this job is rich because it is a “human job, creator of links”. Then it is because it presents many dualities. In some cases, it is necessary to be very rational, in others, very empathetic. Sometimes it is essential to let teams or the manager make a decision, in other cases it is better to take the lead (as little as possible of course).
What will be the next evolutions of the HR function?
The company must have three main HR roles: HR strategists who set the direction, have an overall view, define company’s values with managers and create conditions for the entire HR sector to develop; HR process experts who provide guidance on specific issues; and HR specialists who support teams in the field.
I believe it is essential for HR to build convictions and show that the function creates value. We are not a function that only serves the business and others, that is not enough. We must produce a “people” performance in addition to a “profit” and “planet” performance.
It is our responsibility to demonstrate the value of HR actions with tangible evidence, particularly thanks to data. For a year now, we have been implementing a real “people data” project, which is a change in mindset for all of us.
Change is underway with managers who are asking for more support than in the past because challenges have become complex (covid, teleworking, upskilling, recruitment of high-level talent, diversity, and inclusion, etc.).
Human Capital is the greatest asset of a company, it must be made to grow, to sublimate.
What skills will HR have to develop tomorrow?
In my opinion, the HR of tomorrow will have to know him/herself, his/her values, his/her limiting beliefs and his/her resources very well. He or she will have to be able to manage his or her emotions and energy and show personal assertiveness because we sometimes have to manage difficult human situations. Recently, we have invested a lot in personal development training for all our employees.
HR managers must develop good interpersonal skills, whether with field teams, management teams or social partners. Active listening, questioning and collective intelligence are key skills.
Our job also requires us to be good at teaching, and to know how to explain things that are not necessarily simple.
Finally, as HR people, we must develop more and more tactical and strategic sense. The environments in which we evolve are complex, which requires discernment and a greater analysis of situations and issues.
What do you think is the major HR challenge of tomorrow?
The challenge is to succeed in developing and sharing knowledge, power and assets within the company, and beyond whenever possible.
Sharing knowledge means sharing knowledge and skills. Companies have no choice but to invest in the development of skills for all. My conviction is companies must invest in soft skills development particularly since they are a fundamental foundation for our entire professional and personal lives. Better, they are key to learning technical skills. At Decathlon, we are currently in the process of redesigning our Human Skills project, which was originally designed 20 years ago.
Sharing power means sharing responsibility. It means implementing a managerial model based on trust, individual and collective responsibility, and encouraging everyone to take initiatives and make decisions on the ground.
It is a real choice to accept to entrust full responsibility to someone, to a department, to a subsidiary.
The sharing of assets is the fair sharing of the wealth created together, through a fair remuneration policy.
Finally, I like the idea of taking care of human capital through my job as HR. If employees enjoy working, if they have confidence in themselves and in the company, then we can build projects where we feel useful to people and to the planet.