Q&A with Hays Steilberg, Bertelsmann: Why HR leaders need to stay on top of digital disruption

Hays Steilberg

Senior Vice President of Bertelsmann, Hays Steilberg joined HRD Connect to talk about the impact of the current political climate of the HR profession. He also shares his thoughts on the importance of driving discussions on key strategic issues.

How can HR Leaders adapt and innovate to meet future demands? What skills and knowledge are needed for HR Leaders to navigate the changing business landscape?

HR leaders need to get as close to the business as they can; this means making time alongside their day to day duties to interact with operators inside and outside their organisation. This also increasingly means that HR leaders must stay on top of the newest developments in technology and the ways new tech, in particular Artificial Intelligence, will change business models, organisational forms and business support functions.

How has the uncertain political landscape affected you and/or your organisation? What are the key opportunities or challenges facing you/your organisation as a result?

With Penguin Random House, Fremantle Media, BMG and Arvato, Bertelsmann has substantial business in the United Kingdom, so uncertainties about the effects of Brexit concern us. At the same time, media content is very local, which means that we are well positioned to continue to flourish in the UK market. In addition, the heightened interest in politics as well as the increased awareness regarding fake news means that the role of serious content and professional journalism is more relevant than ever – this is significant for many of our businesses.

The HR Director Summit/Europe themed Enhancing Business Performance: Turning Strategy into Reality. Where can HR make the biggest difference in your organisation? What is HR’s role in enhancing business performance?

Bertelsmann is a highly decentralised organisation, which not only supports our business success in local markets, but also guarantees publishing autonomy to our business leaders. HR is one of the functions that actually communicate and work together across this vast multitude of business lines and reporting units. This means we enhance performance not just through excellence in our traditional HR work – recruiting, development, total rewards etc. – but also by driving the discussion on key strategic issues across the entire organisation. This is for instance where learning as part of the HR function makes one of its most significant contributions to the enterprise.

Where can HR make the biggest difference in an organisation?

HR should think ahead and lead the discussion on how organisations need to evolve. The pace of change in our markets today is dizzying and increasing all the time, so organisational evolution is now the norm.

How important is Leadership in Building high performing teams? What are the most significant behaviours demonstrated by high-impact leaders?

I think it’s undisputed that leadership makes a tremendous difference in building highly performing teams – this is born out by all the research. Behaviors like communicating strategy in an understandable and authentic story, setting clear targets, giving respectful and relevant feedback, tracking KPIs, creating a culture that encourages ideas and initiative and tolerates error while focusing on team performance as well as individual performance exercise a critical influence on employees’ success.

How can HR leaders ensure they are recognised as important business partners among boardroom colleagues?

Focus on the success of the business, make what you do relevant to the business and deliver on your promises.

Hays will join speakers including Dr. Reza Moussavian, SVP HR Division “Digital & Innovation” at Deutsche Telekom and Andre de Wit, VP Capability Building and Learning at Carlsberg, at HRD Summit/Europe on 30 – 31 May 2017.

Find out more about the event in Amsterdam and join us by visiting the HRD Summit Europe

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