I’m sitting in the CEO’s session on HR. The panel is made up of Rose Hudson, CEO of the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and Hugh Weber, CEO of the New Orleans Hornets, and being moderated by Mary Ellen Slayter with Reputation Capital Media Services.
First question: How do you define leadership.
Hugh: Being transparent and open and building a culture bigger than the organisation, where the people have more than a job.
Rose: My job is to make sure everyone gets treated the same, and understand that each person is treated as an individual. Appreciation features highly.
Question 2: What do you need most from the head of HR.
Hugh: He keeps me sane. HR should be more than admin and policy. HR is the sounding board of the organisation. When you go through change, HR need to be the mouthpiece for the individual. We want to create a place people want to work. We are as interested in the guy who sells the hotdogs as our top players. HR keeps the organisation moving in the same direction and feeling they are being heard.
Rose: The HR team need to share the same brain and think along the same lines. I need my HR (@RobinSchooling) to be at the table and to understand the people in the organisation. Hiring and retention of talent is the key challenge and HR is central to that.
Hugh; Our business looks glamorous and sophisticated, it is really about the basics. It’s about trust and motivation. Guys who make $14Mn are surprisingly not motivated by money. they want respect and recognition the same as anyone else. You have to recognise that people are valid as a piece of the machine, not the machine.
Rose: You don’t progress without passion. I’m CEO but I’m still an HR person, I’m not a former HR person. The big change in organisations is using professional thinking to the whole of the business. Forward thinking businesses recognise the value of all the people on the front line. your policies and practices need to reflect this.Businesses need to get on track with this.
Question: What is the biggest peeve you have with HR?
Rose: when I need information I need it quickly. My HR people can be too busy.
Hugh: I can’t think of any.
Question: Hugh, you’ve changed owners 3 times. what challenges did that present?
Hugh: any change is hard. Embrace change but don’t go looking for it.My job is getting the understanding of what the owner wants and communicating the change clearly. Working for the NBA is very bureaucratic. Decisions take time. I need to buffer the organisation from that. I need to keep the organisation changing consistently and being the buffer against the turmoil. I need to deliver individual messages to individuals and not take a one size fits all approach.
Question: Hugh, if you read things in the papers about the organisation, how do you keep things level?
Hugh: HR is not tactical. It’s important that if news is coming out they hear it from me first, and I tell it as it is. If I don’t get questions or concerns. We have a weekly meeting where we don’t talk, we answer questions.
Question: Rose, How do you manage a team spread across the state?
The most important thing is hitting the road and being out. This is without an agenda, letting the people talk and ask in person. I have to be there to share “stuff” and there are no secrets other than salaries. I need to be available to everyone, and use the meeting of opportunity in casual meetings to let people talk. you don’t get that in e-mail. I need to be out in person and share the good with the bad.
Hugh; leaders need to be real. We are human and make mistakes, and we need to be real about that.
Rose: Authenticity is key. What you see is what you get. You need to own your own mistakes and not pass on blame.
Question: What is the biggest thing your HR team have achieved?
Hugh: Our HR team created an award system with a dinner and talk for great achievement and contribution. This became a reflection of who we are and was another way of keeping our internal customers happy.
Rose: I can rely on them and bounce ideas. HR are tight at what they do. it’s crisp, clean and professional. Our employees understand they have a resource. moving things on-line and enabling employees to run their own process where possible?
Question: How do you communicate your 5 year vision to everyone?
Rose: Asking questions directly to people to share the vision and ask what they need to achieve it. All of the technical and operational plan comes from the people who need to deliver it, rather than top down.
Hugh: We need to raise the level of excellence to be champions. We have 28 players but a much bigger organisation that makes it work. We have tangible goals and clear ways we need to improve. For us, it’s more about the brand connection and affinity. We have had to connect the team with the community and New Orleans is changing. It’s not rebuilding, it’s a renaissance. We need to reflect the community we are in and treat the fans right.
Question: how do you change the view of HR as more than pen pushers/admin folk?
Hugh: The only thing that separates good, great and poor organisations is the talent they have. Whats the cost of rehiring repeatedly. If we get the HR bit right, the business is right. the HR challenge is understanding what the business wants, and communicate in HR terms what the business wants from human capital.
Rose: Make sure you have the right person to deliver the message. Deliver what the chiefs want, in the way they want it. blind organisations will fall.
Question: What is your biggest fear?
Rose: the biggest fear is that the bedrock of our organisation is the integrity of the lottery. Errors can happen in an instant, and I stay awake at night worrying about that.
Hugh: I never want to let people down, and I worry about the things I can control failing.

Question: What drives you most to want to go to work every day now you are at the top of the tree?

Rose: I’m motivated by what else can I bring to the table today. I want to do a very good job. I adore the people in the organisation and i want to do the best for them.

Hugh: work is not a 4 letter word. i don’t go to work, work comes to me. i came to New orleans 2 weeks after the storm with a young family. I’m motivated by the whole thing.

Question: Which of you has made the most millionaire?

Rose: I love to hear the winners story even if they want no publicity. To feel that energy drives me.

This was a great panel. Thankyou for sharing your CEO thoughts. I feel inspired.