EllisDon Corporation was nominated for the Best Employee Value Proposition Award at 2017’s Canadian HR Awards. We spoke to their director of talent management Jennifer Khan, who revealed why she thinks great teams need their leaders to take a step back from the action.
“There have been many learning moments throughout my career, however I think one of my most recent ones has been the most profound for me,” she explained. “It has impacted the way in which I think about leadership and something that I would like to carry forward for the remainder of my career.
“That's the idea that a great leader provides the tools that their team needs to be successful and then gets out of their way. This has a been a really challenging lesson for me because as a leader, as a human being, I derive value and worth in what I have been able to accomplish, and what I've realized is that if I want to grow and develop, and if I want my team to grow and develop, I need to let them go.
“I can't be their safety net, I can't prevent them from making mistakes, I just have to be ready to help dust them off if they take a wrong turn. Not only has this allowed me to do work that I really enjoy, it has also empowered my team to push themselves beyond their comfort zone and has yielded better results that I could have ever accomplished on my own.”
But Khan didn’t always have her eyes set on the HR hot seat. In fact, when she was growing up, she wanted to be a school teacher. Whilst this may at first may seem far off from a role HR industry, when you really think about the two share a very similar skillset.
“I was always attracted to the idea of sharing knowledge and inspiring minds to lead richer, more fulfilling lives,” she told us. “I started my career in the Service Industry and later developed an interest in Process Improvement. However, it wasn't until I found myself between roles that I re-evaluated what I was truly passionate about and that is Talent Development. I find a lot of value and purpose in a people first philosophy, recognizing that we're all individuals who go to work everyday wanting to be great.
“I think that it's the responsibility of HR to provide the tools and guidance necessary to unlock potential and Learning and Development is where I think I can add the most value. I started at
EllisDon as a Learning and Development Specialist, then Manager of Talent Development & Change Initiatives and I’m currently the Director of Talent Management.
“But all those titles really don't mean much to me. At the core of it, my job has always been and will always be about inspiring minds to think differently to improve the quality of their lives. Talent Development is just one way that I can do that, and it really doesn't matter what’s on my business card.”