Human resources practice in Nigeria has been described as slow but on the sure track of advancement with commendable pockets of best practices particularly within the private sector.
Steve Ojeh, employee/industrial relations and employee communications manager for Shell Companies in Nigeria and chairman, Rivers State branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM) said this at the just concluded 15th Annual conference of the CIPM, Rivers State branch.
According to him, HR practice in Nigeria has a solid education and availability of vibrant institutions to support structured competence upgrade of practitioners. “With the quest for deep professionalism that I see today and having practised HR myself outside the shores of the country, I see significant ingredients that will enable us compete favourably among the best and brightest anywhere in the world.”
In answering the question raised from the theme of the Conference, “Are we there yet?” Ojeh said HR practice is everywhere though some practices in some organisations are still at infantry; while a critical mass are somewhere in the middle and a few are at the forefront of deploying best-in-class practices.
“What has been clear is that it’s a journey of a million miles of continuous assessment and like change, has no final destination. What was also remarkable is the identification by participants that we, rather than others hold the key to getting us and our organisations there.”
He however identified some challenges faced in the practice which he called blockers holding HR in Nigeria back from getting there. “Key among them is poor knowledge of the business. For instance, how well do we speak the language of the business, or make HR distinct from the business by being in the business and how do we use the table when we get on to a board,” Ojeh stated.
“Another aspect is poor use of metrics where we are generally unskilled in generating and using data to make informed decisions or use same to demonstrate HR impact on business performance. How is our approach itself? We appear to have allowed poor service orientation that has crept into our national culture to also affect us; we have limited mindset of end-to-end delivery and we tend to attach more value to tasks over impacts in terms of what we measure and what we reward.
“As we say in my company, we tend to reward fire fighters rather than the fire wardens. Finally, how do we learn, knowing that what brought us here won’t take us further? Are we missing the opportunity to leverage technology beyond gadgetry and in a globalised world, do we know who our networks are?” he questioned.
He added that HR practice in Nigeria should emulate the giant leap made globally – in structure, content and recognition. He urged practitioners to leverage on this development and know the business of their businesses.
The Chairman, CIPM, Rivers State Branch, also identified the existence of quacks as a challenge. He said the institute will fulfil the responsibility bestowed on it to truly separate wheat from chaff. “We are doing this by appraising why and how pretenders have entered through the backdoor and we are taking action to address same.
“We are doing this by simplifying without diluting the process for attracting non-CIPM members who are practising HR as well as broadening the criteria to accommodate top HR executives. We will also continue to anchor on legislation to encourage certification by the body as well as licenses to operate in what will provide a seal of approval for practitioners to ply their trade.
“The objectives of the conference were to showcase best practices in key functional aspects of HR management and bench-marking them against existing practices in key sectors of the Nigerian economy. We also used it as a forum to help appraise the level of professional capabilities and competence of HR practitioners in driving their organisations to deploy best practices towards the achievement of desired goals.