Every now and then, I see lots of upstarts branding themselves as CEOs and serial entrepreneurs simply because they built a website, started a chain of Facebook groups/WhatsApp groups, and perhaps opened a shop or two. While I do not despise the days of little beginnings, I also find it outrageous to ‘usurp’ titles and appellations that have no basis in reality.

So it was such a breath of fresh air to learn at the feet of Mr Bolaji Olagunju, a real CEO and serial entrepreneur, who delivered the keynote address at a learning summit organised by The Covenant Nation‘s Human Resources Professionals Community Group. Mr Olagunju dislodged long-held beliefs about HR while also casting a vision of what HR functions are actually supposed to be. Please take a look at my key takeaways.

Every business problem is an HR problem because there is no problem that cannot be solved by engaging the right people. - Mr Bolaji Olagunji, CEO @workforce_group HT @CovenantCCentre Click To Tweet

15 HR Insights from Mr Bolaji Olagunju, CEO of Workforce Group

1. It’s not enough to know about things. It’s more important to know how best to do things. Most people would agree that this is true but they don’t act like it.

2. We must check our premise for choosing HR as a profession. Many people say they chose HR because they love people, but HR is not about loving people. If you really love people you should be serving in IDP camps. HR is about optimising human capital to improve business performance.

3. Three important factors that distinguish the top two percent of HR professionals:
i. How they think — this is a function of the hats they wear.
ii. The actions they take
iii. Their know-how — knowledge and skills

4. The effective HR practitioner must wear four hats — the hat of:
i. a CEO
ii. an HR professional
iii. a consultant
iv. the customer.

5. A consultant is a problem solver. It’s not enough to identify problems. Become a business partner. Share growth ideas and initiatives.

6. The biggest problem of HR professionals is misalignment. Many HR professionals are not really in touch with the businesses they serve. Their initiatives don’t drive the business agenda.

7. To achieve alignment as an HR professional, start with the business. There is nothing like HR Strategy. There are only HR implications of the business strategy. Be a businessperson first and an HR professional second. This involves four things.

i. Deep knowledge of the business
ii. Love of the business — take total ownership
iii. Speak the language of the business
iv. Drive the agenda of the business

8. You don’t argue the relevance of HR; you prove it. Prove your relevance by the value you create.

9. The reality of big businesses is far different from that of small businesses. You must adapt every strategy, insight and initiative to your specific context. You cannot afford to just copy and paste.

10. The boss you consider difficult could be your biggest opportunity if you learn how to take ownership. Find out why the boss is difficult and address that. You will succeed to the level that you take ownership.

11. By taking ownership, you can break through any obstacle and give yourself an advantage over those that ran away from the obstacle.

12. Don’t denigrate your employers or work against their business in any way. If they are really so bad, then leave for somewhere else or start your own. Running a business is tough.

13. Every business problem is an HR problem because there is no problem that cannot be solved by engaging the right people.

14. It is not enough to create a strategy. Structure must follow strategy like day follows night.

15. We must commit to continuous learning. And it is important to carefully choose who we are learning from.