When the president of a professional association says such a clear statement, it is because it is an absolute assertion. We talk today with Miguel Moreno, President of ‘Dirección Humana‘, an association where almost 95% of the HR Directors of the region of Murcia have joined and one of the most actives in the national scenario.
If I am not wrong, you are bonded since a long time to Murcia, right? What means to you to work in top level companies in your hometown?
I have to emphasize that my origins go back to Grupo Barceló Hotels. It was a really important stage in my life since it was my first professional experience in a multinational company and that allowed my colleagues to notice me to start a new project at Grupo Durán in Mazarrón. I have always switched between family businessess and companies. For me Barceló was also that, but of course taken to another level, but it has helped me to understasnd what family-owned companies need to professionalize themselves. Throughout all my path I have worked between the horticultural and the chemical sectors. In my opinion, it is key to have developed my career here in Murcia, although coming back home can be a challenge and a responsability too.
The fact you are talking about company businesses is a really interesting one because they are a different kind of workplace, and one cannot understand it until they work at one of them. What piece of advice would you give to someone that has to deal with HR Management in a company of this kind?
We need to differentiate these companies depending if the number of owners (or siblings) is one or more. The moment of time they are going through is also important: if we are in the middle of a transition from one generation to another or the owners are already settled. I would strongly recommend, from humility and given the years I have been dealing with this kind of company, that one should be really calm, observe before doing anything and that the proposals and measures that we want to implant should be done in a progressive way. I have never seen any common pattern where you can openly say: ‘The same as I implemented in the previous company, I can also do it in this new one’. I firmly think that is the real challenge: the fact that HR Policies could be implemented to professionalize the company and manage it in a different way, not better or worse, but just differently, in a more unbiased and professional way. And this is always complicated.
Maybe this is one of the key challenges in Spain: professionalizing the familiy-owned companies, since from the transition to one on another there tend to be breakdown or redesign moments on how to continue with the business activity.
Yes, this is also true. In the end, the people that work within these organizations suffer from these circumstances. In the end, when you are inside and you are in charge of management, it can also affect the propper development of your job. Nevertheless, this is something we have to take into account and we have to keep in mind that this is definitely going to happen.
From your position as the President of the HR Association ‘Dirección Humana’ you are constantly in contact with a lot of professionals. I would like to know how does the HR Director profile in the region of Murcia looks like.
I think that in Murcia we have a really well-prepared team in the HR Management divisions. They are high-level individuals with a great human approach, that are always seeking continous improvement and that want to go far beyond day by day. We never settle with the current policies and strategies that we are developing. We are always seeing each other in trainings both in Murcia and outside the region. This is also one of the goals of the association. We gather almost 95% of the professionals from the HR Management of the region. One of the purposes is the fact of keeping in touch and be trained in the necessary aspects to carry out our activity.
What are the most demanded aspects in terms of Management and People Development in this area?
I think that we, as professionals,we are mostly demanding the acknowledgement of the CEO of our company. It wasn’t until some years ago that they conceived us as a burden that the company needed to have and that it was necessary to determine the circumstances from the human teams of the company. I think this is changing now and now it is an strategic management that helps the CEO with policies and strategies and where we provide solutions that they cannot find themselves when they want to undertake new projects or when during a project they have to begin with new lines of development or improvements.
Which knowledge fields are professionals from ‘Dirección Humana’ more interested in?
I think that every field is good and necessary. From what I have spotted, the most demanded one is people management and development: equality, work-life balance and our team health are very importants and we have to adopt them as a differentiation part of our companies. We don’t attract people because of salary or working conditions anymore: we have to give them this additional point where the company, the management, and the HR department leading them can offer a company imagen that takes care of the worker one step further than legal salary and working conditions. The professionals from Murcia are really aware of this fact and I think that this strengthens the human side of my colleagues here in the region.
One of your worries is that your teams can have access to a quality training but what about you? Which needs do talent management professionals have that universities cannot supply? How does this association contribute so their members can have access to continous training?
This is one of the most important issues that we have to address. Training was normally associated to certain jobs that had to continue their education throughout the years, such as in the healthcare sector. I think that this has been extended to every job. A professional that cannot keep a continuous training, recycle him or herself and keep up to date to what’s hapening in the job environment is not going to continue in any high-level company. It is also true that sometimes we are more worried about train the other that ourselves. In my case, my bet goes for first-level business schools to have a broader vision. The HR Director must have a global and open-minded business vision and cannot stick to a unique task. When a Director sits down in front of a board of directors, he must understand what is the company structure in financial and organizational terms, because if they don’t this fact they are missing a part of the business. In order to do this, we need to train ourselves in a broader vision than the one we usually manage.
From the Association, which activities or training plans do you carry out to complete these weaknesses?
What we try to accomplish is collect the needs that our associates transmit us and try to give everything a value with specific trainings so they can get the same profit as if those trainings would be done in Madrid or Barcelona, we could also have them here in Murcia through our collaborators in a zipped format: a business breakfast, a morning-long training… We also have our own Congress every two years. We organize a one or one and a half day long seminar to target the experience and enjoy networking. We can ask ourselves with a coffee about what we can do, how, we pose questions and doubts, new ideas… Here at Murcia we are professionals who are open and sharing people. This is of great value and we have to remark it.
What perception are you getting from Spanish companies around the importance of an employer brand? Are they really conscious about it?
I think that we are on our way. New generations tend to think different, they have different values and needs, and we have to adapt ourselves to that. Long time ago, we as candidates, had to adapt to the companies, but this has been changing in the last years and will not be the same any longer. That’s why we have to understand what do new generations want to create new and more attractive environments, but, at the same time we need to think how old generations are going to live with these new ones. In that sense, we need to adapt companies and environments to have multidisciplinary workers in the company. We also need to learn how to connect the dots. Companies are on their way, some of them are more advanced than the others. Last week I was in Madrid interacting with some companies and getting to know what were they doing at an international level and you notice that they are one or two step further. Here at Murcia this fact hasn’t landed yet, but I believe we have taken this into account to apply it to companies we are working now with. We have to change the methodology and make the employer see that management has changed. We cannot force people to adapt to our cultures, that is not going to succeed. It will end up in a high level of turnover and elevated costs and we cannot face this type of things.
This morning we have shared here at binternational an study made for spanish university students and the conclusion was that their goal in the professional level was to get a job where work-life is balanced, with a guarantee and stability in the position and also to have the possibility of facing challenges. In terms of flexibility and work-life balance, what measures have been developed here in Murcia that had caught your attention?
I agree with those conclusions. In my professional part I am also a Professor at the University of Murcia in the first and last years and you notice that difference, that after and that before. In Murcia we bet to adapt our schedules to the reality of our environment, we are going massively for a reduced timetable where we can get out of work earlier, working at middle day instead of going out late in the afternoon. I think that we work on that issue too for those people who have families, kids or people they have to care of so they can use that flexibility and use the time to look after them. To sum up, what we are looking for is that the person that comes to work, has to be focused in what he has to solve, trying to conciliate their life with that work. I think that we have gone really far and that tons of companies, mostly the important ones here in Murcia, are applying measures further than these ones, as for example employee programmes to practice sport, to relax and so on, which workers are now demanding. It is important to disconnect from the professional world and avoid daily pressure, not only witing the organization but also at a personal level. I am aware that some programmes exist where workers can develop themselves around physical exercise conducted in gyms in the organization, yoga programmes and relaxing, mindfulness, improvement of employees diet, stress level detection programmes… All of these are being developed in the region and I believe it is a really interesting topic where I think we are first in line.
Coming back to you, Miguel, you count on a +15 years working experience as HR Director. What has changed regarding your position during these years? Have your functions and responsabilities evolved as a HR Director?
I think that nowadays we are considering the HR Professional that is taken into account far beyond that the person who manages the daily tasks, is aware of what happens with the rest of the employees and is in charge of payrolling or social insurance. It is now a worker that associates with the company strategy to see how can they manage the company to obtain the maximum profit and how to improve the quality of life from the rest of the employees. It has been a transition and we have gone from the initial image to everything that we were talking right before: people development, new motivational projects, healthcare improvement, work-life balance… The most creative part. To me personally, since I coursed Psychology studies, it is what I like the most and what I am enjoying at its fullest. This transition is taking part right now and we are going even further since the new generations are demanding it and we have to implement it no matter what, we have to attract people and stop looking for people to work with us, so they can do this instead.
How would you sum up your professional growth since you the moment landed in this area until right now?
Talking about oneself is always complicated… I am an ambitous person because every time I have reached my goals I have always wanted to go one step further and become a better professional. This is the most characteristic feature of me. That’s why, every time that we accomplish some goals at the company, I want a bigger one after. It is also true that there are some issues that aren’t quite easy. The said that we must get out of our comfort zone, that I had done it a few times. And I like it, and it motivates me to face a new challenge and to show that a company can organize itself in a better way and provide a better added value to the property.
You are a young professional, with a clearly stated track record and since some months ago you are facing to manage the HR Department of Linasa. What new challenges have you established for this new stage?
In this company that has a very broad track record, and whose origin was a family with a really interesting and powerful proyect, the challenge is to professionalize the company, put it in high value and give it that attractive side that is needed in the current moment that we are living right now. We have to update to the new cycles that are coming. From the first stone, which was the implementation of the HR Department, we are shaping that now and we need to professionalize the rest of the company too. That is the key challenge for me. I had done that in my previous experiences and professional stages, and the truth is that I am really satisfied and happy that they have trusted me to face this new company path.