HR Professionals as Change Agents

Do you recognize the true impact you have?


Syrine Reese leads Talent Acquisition at Healthfirst, a New York-based health insurance plan serving 1.2 million. With more than 15 years of HR experience, Syrine sees the role of human resource experts as change agents for organizational culture and the leadership mindset.

"How do we think about our organization … where we're going long-term?" Syrine asks, encouraging HR experts to consider their true value to an organization.

“Without HR, an organization cannot flourish. The impact that you can have, [such as] determining what the culture of the organization is, can be mind-blowing if you know you have that impact and ability.”

In this video, Syrine shares her perspective on the expansive influence and responsibility of HR, and how HR professionals can change the entire organizational dynamic by recognizing their influence as change agents.

Many HR professionals view it as just HR, shared services. They are providing a service. They trivialize the impact that you can have as a human capital expert. So, when you hear human resources, you think, "Okay, these are the resources for the people." But it's beyond that. It's talent, how you're managing the talent.

And how can you transition the mindset of the rest of the organization to see you as a valuable contributor to the organization? There's always this thought around, "HR professionals, they really don't contribute to the bottom line." They just make us follow the rules and they get in the way. Well, you know what? HR individuals unfortunately, they start to believe that. So, again, it's that self-fulfilling prophecy, right?

So, for me, I'm a change agent. What I do, where I do it is in human resources, it just so happens. But I change the mindset of the leaders who work for our organization. So, being in talent acquisition right now, again, it's not about putting a person in the seat. It's, "How do we think about our organization? How do we think about where we're going long-term?"

So, our goal at Healthfirst is our 2020 vision. How do we move from 2016 to 2020 and hit the milestones and the goals that we have set out for ourselves in a strategic way? Not in a tactical way because that's not who I am as an HR leader. So, when HR professionals view themselves as very tactical and they have very limited reach and impact, to me, you have to really rethink what an organization means.

The reality is without HR, an organization cannot flourish. The impact that you can have by one thing, even determining what the culture of the organization is, can be mind-blowing if you know you have that impact and ability. You can't think of it as this tactical role. You have to view yourself as a consultant, an advisor to the business and just as someone who works in the finance area or possibly in the growth area where there's a sales functionality, you have to learn the fundamentals of the business so that you can change the organization.

So, once you recognize that that's what you have to do, that's your role as an HR person, it changes the entire dynamic.

Syrine Reese

With nearly 20 years of progressive and diverse human resources experience, Syrine A. Reese is recognized as a successful organizational change agent, builder, mentor, community leader, entrepreneur, and mother of two.


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