Siemens: A business view on why the talent challenge might be bigger than we think

Dr. Robert Neuhauser, Corporate Executive VP and Global Head of People and Leaders- Siemens, explains why businesses need to be aware of the size of talent challenge they face.

What advantages do you have as someone without a background in HR? 

Our business environment is changing extremely fast. Digitalization is still very much underestimated in its disruptive impact on B2B.  Business experience helps us to grasp the disruptive power of these changes. And it makes you much more credible when you talk about required action and new priorities. … HR’s business credibility is key in such a situation.

What are the best ways to drive through change in the face of resistance? 

First, most people that resist change are not stupid! They have from past experience good reasons to believe that they are right and you are wrong.  Therefore, my personal take: Don’t tell people that they were wrong – because they weren’t. They found a good solution to the challenge of the past. Invite them to realize that we face new and different PROBLEMS to solve going forward. And believe me: If you give our Siemens engineers a new problem to solve, they’ll love put all their brainpower into solving it. And they will solve it.

Second: The changes ahead of us are a kind of perfect storm situation: disruptive changes and impacting nearly all people at the same time over a very short period of time. Traditional levers like incentives, training, development programs etc. can help, but they won’t be enough. We have to push for “guided community approaches” within our companies. Only they have sufficient reach and can gain the required trust.

What mistakes do HR people sometimes make in designing talent development programme? 

Debating far too long about the most modern leadership model, the fanciest content delivery or the latest learning insights among so-called expert circles. It’s better to put massive focus on embedding our business people in the candidate selection – and especially the placement phases – of the process. That’s were the biggest mistakes are made and where the greatest frustration is created among our top talents.

What are the main priorities for you at Siemens in the coming year? 

Upskilling our own HR organization to be able to drive and orchestrate the rapid change, strategically. The rest follows…

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