HR Ingredients for Success with Dominique Jones and Brendan Keegan

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace.

Today’s guests are Dominique Jones, ‎ VP of HR at Halogen Software and Brendan Keegan, Managing Partner at Velocity Performance. To hear the entire show, click here. On the show today, the two experienced executives discuss their successful careers and share their key learnings.

Dominique Jones HR

As an experienced HR person, Dominique Jones has worked with several global organizations in the HR and talent management consulting space. She is close to completing five years at Halogen Software which is a software company providing cloud-based solutions in talent management. The company’s software helps clients integrate all of their talent management functions and align them with its workforce. Headquartered in Ottawa, the company now has multiple global operations. According to her, the unique thing is that she is also a customer for Halogen because she uses the same software that the company sells. This enables her to make an influence on the product and her insight guides the company while deciding how to take the product to the market.

Secret to a Successful HR Career

1.   Learning the Business

Jones believes that learning the business has been key to her success in HR. She has worked in a variety of industries ranging from retail to construction to call centers. Each time she made a great effort to understand the business because that allowed her to maximize the value she added to a particular organization. “HR doesn’t change at its core in terms of the fundamentals and the principles but it’s really about how you apply those tools and techniques with the relevant nuances of an organization. And you can accomplish that only by learning about the business,” explains Jones.

2.   Company Standpoint vs Employee Standpoint

Navigating the fine line between company standpoint and that of the employee without compromising the needs of either side is a perpetual HR dilemma. Jones believes it is important to open up communication in order to achieve the balance. Traditionally, HR was primarily focused on employee well-being but that’s changing now. In spite of it being a dying proposition, there are some workforces that continue to expect their employers to do everything for them. Jones says that this can be solved by not doing everything for the employee and teaching and coaching them to take responsibility for their employee experience instead of expecting everything from their employer. She says it’s a two-way relationship. “I often ask people ‘what have you done about it,’ if somebody complains or is looking for a solution. It’s a great way to make them think about their ownership in the matter,” elaborates Jones.

Challenges of Global HR

According to Jones, maintaining a common company culture across different countries is a huge challenge for a global organization. “You are contending with multiple country cultures, practices and customs and you are trying to do that within the overall company culture that you are trying to uphold. So the key is to not over-complicate it and get to a few key cultural principles that anchor your overall organizational culture but at the same time are generic enough so that you can allow for those different country cultural aspects to mold themselves into that and around that,” she advises. This makes it easier for the workforces to align themselves to the overarching company culture no matter where they’re located.

What Are You Reading?

Dominique Jones is currently reading “Uncommon Service” by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss which is all about customer service. It is about how, in order to truly succeed at customer service, you need to build a companywide ecosystem centered around the customer.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Dominique via LinkedIn.

Brendan Keegan HR

Brendan Keegan has been in the business world for about 24 years focused on the technology industry and consulting services having served as the CEO and President for many years. He spent the first ten years of his career with a Fortune 100 company where he started out as an engineer and left as a senior sales executive. In the following ten years of his career he was with a venture capital funding company and a private equity fund in the Silicon Valley. Four years ago he started his current company, Velocity Performance, which focuses on leadership consulting and training. The company provides leadership development coaching to executives from Fortune 10 and 20 companies as well as from local startups and small companies.

How to Become a Successful Leader

Having a personal vision and a set of core values are very important to become a successful leader, according to Keegan. “In life, if you know where you want to go you’re more likely to get there,” he explains. As a leader you also need a vision for your team and core values that the entire team follows. Everyone should be able to articulate your vision and values with ease. “If you can establish a vision that employees can support and rally around, it is extremely beneficial and gives them a reason for working hard,” he adds. Keegan believes it is good to be a collaborative leader which means building a culture that is inspirational and transparent. Lastly, clear communication – letting people know what your expectations are and letting them know what their goals are – is also very important.

It is Okay to Make Mistakes

“Have the courage to fail and the faith to succeed” – that’s a quote Keegan lives by. “Failing is a part of your job and if you’ve failed that’s a good thing because it means that you were trying. Effective leaders fail all the time,” explains Keegan. He believes that a person who doesn’t make mistakes is either not using his potential to the maximum or isn’t trying enough. Effective leaders are always trying to find ways to get better at their jobs. However, Keegan is quick to remark that he’s talking about calculated mistakes and not about making the same mistakes over and over. When effective leaders make mistakes, they sit back and diagnose the root cause of the mistake – whether they made a decision too quickly, or made it without enough information or it was just a bad decision. The important thing is that once they know they’ve made a mistake, these leaders always pick themselves up and look for corrective actions and take measures to avoid making the same mistake again. “The key to creating a culture where making mistakes is okay on your path to achieving your maximum potential is communicating that mistake to your peers,” says Keegan. “It is important to create a culture where mistakes are not frowned upon and calculated mistakes are encouraged.”

Keegan shares from his personal experience that at the beginning of his career one of the core values he treasured was pride. But gradually as he started becoming a leader, he realized that humility is more important than pride. One should be humble towards their colleagues as well as should be humble enough to accept mistakes. “A person who doesn’t admit to making mistakes is a tough person to work with!”

Importance of Having a Mentor

Having a mentor at an early stage of his career was one of the things that shaped Keegan’s career. While he was an engineer writing codes, his mentor told him that he was better with people than at writing codes. This little tip helped him to getting an account role where he worked with clients and eventually got moved to sales because of his people skills. Keegan says he has always been in touch with his mentors from different stages of his career and goes back to them whenever he wants advice or guidance. “The easiest way to find a mentor is to look around and find a person you admire and has had successes that you would like to emulate and one who is willing to invest in you,” he advises.

How Can People Connect With You?

Connect with Brendan via LinkedIn.