Lewisa Anciano, CHRP: 2015 HR Professional of the Year
As renowned for her straight talk as her results, Lewisa Anciano, CHRP communicates a passion for HR unlike many others—traits which have earned her multiple credentials and propelled her through a number of industries, as well into a successful consulting practice. Becoming vice-president of people with Coast Capital Savings in 2011 after serving them as a client, her passion for organizational transformation and effectiveness continues to inspire others—and great results.
What provided the inspiration behind your career as an HR professional—and what drives you now?
I was really one of the lucky ones to have had many mentors and amazing people that have come into my life and given me gifts of learning. I had a boss once who was just an amazing woman. She was a great businesswoman and a great people person. She believed in the community and had that perfect combination of heart and smarts. She inspired me.
What drives me now is this whole notion around giving back and making a difference and making organizations a better place, helping people realize their destiny. I have this purpose statement that “I am a loving provocateur who ignites the power of people and organizations to take charge of their destiny.” Being quite type A and driven, I believe that I can be a catalyst for that.
What would be the best piece of advice you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?
The best piece of advice that actually was given to me early in my career, but I didn’t heed, was that the best careers are slow and steady. I’ve learned over the years that there is a time and place for everything. You don’t want to eat dinner at breakfast. You want to eat breakfast at breakfast, lunch at lunch and dinner at dinner.
There’s a pace and a rhythm for your career and you want to be able to learn valuable lessons; you don’t want to be in your career and in a place where you get too much too soon. It’s nice to spread things out and be patient with your career.
The second one would be, “Make sure you build relationships.” Whatever the question, relationships are the answer. Make sure you nurture your relationships. I think sometimes we can be very fleeting in our relationships. Spend deep time with people.
The third thing is to always have a sense of integrity and authenticity. I think that integrity and authenticity are absolutely key and this aligns with the importance of building relationships.
What do you think is the greatest emerging opportunity/challenge for professionals?
There are two things. Culture is one thing that comes up a lot—cultural transformation, culture enhancement. Most organizations want to build a great culture. How do you do that? I think it’s looking at levers from an enterprise, team and individual approach, and deciding what are the keys levers to push and pull to be able to transform a culture; leadership is a a big part of it. I think change happens one interaction at a time and one conversation at a time, so it’s really important to “hug and slap” people. You have to be tough and manage those conflicts, but you also have to be warm and caring because with any kind of change people need to feel pleasure and pain in order to move forward.
The second thing that’s a big opportunity for us as HR professionals is the whole workforce planning, capacity management/productivity management piece. As organizations are trying to do more with less, how do we make sure we have the right person in the right seat of the bus, particularly doing the right work?
As HR—through re-engineering, through organizational design, through having a capacity management—we are able to provide advice to our customers around what is the right workforce from a capability perspective, and what is the right workforce from a capacity, FTE, human capital perspective as well.
How direct a connection is there between emotional intelligence, HR and end results in the workplace?
There’s absolutely a connection, but it’s not easy to be able to sustain those connections because our egos get in the way. I think people have the intention to have great EQ, but sometimes we fear things, we don’t want to look bad, we don’t want to be that accountable because accountability takes hard work and strong conflict management. We sometimes get in our own way.
Thinking about how we show up and our credibility and our gravitas is really important. We are always a work in progress, we are always learning so it’s ok to just keep learning and keep trying to be better in terms of being a great professional. Our jobs are not easy. We have all this accountability and responsibility, but not necessarily the authority because the people don’t report to us. We need to use that ‘change happens one conversation at a time and one interaction at a time’ and be able to connect with people one-on-one to try and drive change.
Don’t give up. Sometimes as HR professionals we just go ‘Oh my god’, it’s so daunting the task that we have about balancing strategic and because HR is a ton of administrative stuff, the tactical stuff. We need to figure out how do we get an ‘and’ and ‘both.’ We have a strong mindset. I believe life is about self-fulfilling prophecy and if you think it, it will come to reality and so it’s our time to shine. More and more CEOs are relying on HR to make a difference, to make their organizations better and this is our time. We were born to do this.
We have to do self-development work, and work on our own “gremlins” and work with our own “self-talk.” Once we work on our own personal leadership and emotional intelligence, then we can really impact workplace culture.
I always say—and it’s the title of Hillary Clinton’s book—“It takes a village to raise a child,” and for an organization to be successful it takes everyone firing on all cylinders, and being not only technically strong in their job, but also great leaders who contribute to a very functional culture. Every organization is striving to do that.
The politics and dynamics, people’s own egos, and not really having that trust and relationships to have those real conversations—those things get in the way of execution. Once you fix those those things though, you’re going to get results because there’s not going to be politics, and people are going to have fierce and courageous conversations with each other in a respectful way with spectacular end results.
With great power comes great responsibility and we need to take the bull by the horns and just go for it and have the confidence to be able to do that.
(PeopleTalk Fall 2015)