2021 New Year, New Hope

Choose to be ‘Internal Catalysts’ to drive change without the need for external triggers or influence this year

Kenneth Low heads up CIPD in Asia. He leads an experienced team of people professionals to serve and collaborate with members, customers, partners, communities and regulatory bodies to grow CIPD's presence in this region. 

On the corporate front, his focus is to help organizations maximise their return on investments on people. At the individual level, Kenneth is passionate about helping executives achieve breakthroughs in their professional & personal lives through coaching & training. His aim is to help champion and elevate the capabilities of HR and L&D professionals in the region.

New Year 
I look forward to this period every year. While some like to focus on year-end reflections, I prefer to look forward and craft new visions for the new year. It provides me with new possibilities, new plans and a new hope. In this new year article, I would like to share my thoughts on how we can move forward powerfully with purpose and hope as a HR community. 
Like many, I had reflected on how the pain and devastation that the pandemic has inflicted many of our personal and professional lives. For some, the challenges and difficulties do not seem to have an end in sight. As we empathize with those who are still struggling, I also choose to look at the positive side. For example, I marvel at the number of significant breakthroughs that had happened in the midst of the pandemic.  
External Catalyst
We have seen medical breakthroughs in the form of several accelerated vaccine creations. We have seen innovations in business models as companies are forced to reinvent themselves. We have also seen how the HR community successfully drove the biggest shift to remote workforce engagement as employees are forced to work from home. 
Human behaviours are being reshaped and reformed as we adapt to different variations of the ‘new normal’. We too have experienced these at the CIPD in our interactions with our clients and members. In our organisation, we saw clients from small to big organisations in Asia embraced virtual training during the pandemic, something we thought would take years for the mindset to change. To me, the pandemic had been a powerful external catalyst to these breakthrough changes. As a result, ‘Catalyst’ became the word that impacted me most in 2020. 
Internal Catalyst
While these new breakthroughs were each ground-breaking, what really impressed me were leaders especially in the HR community, who seem to have an unstoppable spirit to drive change in the midst of all these obstacles. Somehow, these leaders seem to have a well of energy to trigger new and necessary changes without the need to depend on external stimuli. It then occurred to me that, I too should aspire to be an ongoing ‘Internal Catalyst’ to change. 
As we observed in 2020, HR professionals around the world have become champions of diversity and inclusion and mental well-being like an internal compass. As HR professionals, we are impacting lives around us and organisations where we serve. We have all become ‘Internal Catalysts’ to change. 
It is my vision and hope that all HR professionals can continue to be ‘Internal Catalysts’ to drive change without the need for external triggers or influence this year. I will share the following two practices that will help ensure our work as an ‘Internal Catalyst’ to change remains credible and sustainable. 
Purpose & Plan
In my practice as a HR professional and leader, I am mindful of the importance of having effective plans. However, I realised many years back that it is more significant to have a clear sense of purpose than simply having a comprehensive plan. It gives necessary meaning to our plans. If we want to continue to drive change and impact people and organisations around us, we need to re-examine our purpose. 
At the CIPD, we believe in championing the cause of HR professionals. Our sense of purpose drove us to promote the advocacy, branding and capabilities of all HR professionals in Asia and around the world. I am sure everyone reading this article has a similar mission that motivates them to reach new heights every day. 
For this reason, the CIPD’s Profession Map was designed with ‘Purpose’ as the centre of our professional development as a HR professional. At the CIPD, we are constantly reminded to make our decisions based on our purpose and mission. It has helped me as a leader as I strive to be an effective ‘Internal Catalyst’ in this eco-system. 
Being & Doing 
As a trained executive coach, I am blessed to have learnt the concept of ‘Being’ vs ‘Doing’ many years back. While many of us are very efficient and focused on what we are doing by having very well crafted business plans, some may lose sight of who they are and what is their purpose of being. 
For me, I practice choosing asking myself “what kind of a HR leader will I be” when I lead my team, before asking “what are the steps will I take” to lead the team. It has allowed me to elevate the ‘Human’ element in our HR profession. This practice complements the purpose-centred approach and has equipped me well to be an effective ‘Internal Catalyst’ to change. 
New Hope 
This year, I hope to inspire you to join me as we look forward with hope. Choose this year to be an internal catalyst to change, by being the HR professional we want to be, driven by our sense of purpose and meaning in our work. When we operate in this mode, no external situations and challenges shall not shake us from this resolution.