The Connected Leadership Podcast

The Hyper-Personalisation of the Employee Experience with Angela Cheng-Cimini

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Episode notes

Andy Lopata welcomes Angela Cheng-Cimini, an HR professional, to discuss the hyper-personalisation of the employee experience and its impact on organisational success. Angela is the Senior Vice President, Talent, and Chief Human Resources Officer at Harvard Business Publishing, where she leads HR and Facilities & Administration. With 30 years of HR experience across various industries, Angela specialises in developing talent roadmaps that align with business strategies. She has a track record of transforming HR functions from administrative to strategic. Angela is also involved in several organisations, including serving on the Alumni Board of Directors for Cornell University and as a Board Director for the T. Howard Foundation.

In their conversation, Angela explains that hyper-personalisation means meeting employees where they are, similar to how companies like Amazon and Netflix personalise customer experiences. She emphasises the importance of leveraging data to develop bespoke employee journeys, citing examples of data points such as skills, aspirations, and work-life balance. Angela also discusses Harvard Business Publishing's journey towards hyper-personalisation, including the development of a robust career pathing model that allows employees to choose their own adventure. 

Reflecting on leadership, Andy and Angela note a shift towards compassionate and vulnerable leadership styles. They also touch on the resurgence of labour unions and the increasing need for employee voice in organisations. The role of managers as key in localising the employee experience, emphasising the need for upskilling in areas like emotional intelligence and compassionate leadership, are highlighted. She shares insights into Harvard Business Publishing's approach to mentoring, including a formal in-house mentoring program that matches vice presidents with managers. 

Andy Lopata and Angela Cheng-Cimini reflect on the simplicity and importance of organisational values, noting that values should be easily understood and not overcomplicated. At Harvard Business Publishing, their values are not printed anywhere, yet employees can recite them and provide examples of how they embody them.

The challenge of dealing with employees, who may not align with the organisational culture, is discussed, noting that this sometimes leads to reluctance to give critical feedback. Angela emphasises the need for balance, ensuring that kindness doesn't prevent the organisation from being innovative and taking risks. She acknowledges the importance of psychological safety and shares their approach to encouraging employees to find safe spaces within the organisation for conversations.

Angela also talks about the role of HR in building relationships and establishing trust, ensuring that HR is seen as a partner rather than a compliance officer. She concludes by discussing the potential role of AI in HR, emphasising the importance of maintaining a balance between artificial intelligence and human intelligence, particularly in areas like talent acquisition where the human touch is essential.

In closing, Angela reflects on her role at Harvard Business Publishing, emphasising the importance of values such as doing what's right, doing what's hard, and doing it with excellence.

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Connect with Angela Cheng-Cimini: LinkedIn