Throughout 2014, WeKnowNext will be spotlighting inspirational HR professionals from around the world!
HR Motivator: Dolphin Barongo, Nairobi, Kenya
In 2013, HR professional Dolphin Barongo faced a harrowing experience and relays how it made her appreciate her colleagues – and their wellbeing – even more.
Last year was a normal year for me until July 22 when everything came tumbling down. I had crazy symptoms: blurred vision, loss of balance and nausea. I was diagnosed with “Glomus Jugulare” -- a tumor located deep at the base of my brain. I underwent an embolization and then a ten-hour surgery in September at India Chennai City Apollo Hospital.
Being a contract employee at my place of work, I was definitely worried about my job. All I could think of is when will all this end? Then the cliché tag “health first, other things later.” I had to whiff off negative thoughts as negativity loops always destroy the intention. I had to be candid and authentic, keeping in touch with my line manager for updates about both the company and my health. I felt more at ease knowing the day-to-day happenings at my work place. My initial return date to office was November 1, 2013 although I was still weak, I managed to get an approval for one more month of sick leave, and now am fully okay in body, mind and spirit.
I am one grateful, happy person today, full of life and thankful to God. Living a life of gratitude is good for the soul. We are all works in progress.
Colossal lesson learned from my experience: “Be sage without being a snob.”
We’re living in a changing world and working in a changing industry, but being there among my colleagues, for my colleagues and with my colleagues is what really counts. We’re all in this together. I tend to believe we go through some life challenges in order to make others strong and hopeful. My “sickness and time-off experience” taught me how to appreciate the statement above. Thus, if we in the human resources profession can learn to check in on our office mates, it wouldn’t hurt our careers, but help us all in the achievement of our goals.
Q. What inspires you as an HR professional?
A. The ability to layer thoughts when dealing with others shows strength of character and a demonstration of real self control in leading others and accepting other forms of leadership.
Q. What is the best method for engaging employees?
Q. How do you think HR can positively affect the culture at their organizations?
A. To positively affect the culture of the organization, there are three questions that an HR pro should ask:
- What would you like me to start doing as an HR person?
- What would you like me to stop doing as a HR person?
- What should I continue doing as a HR person?
Q. What do you love most about being an HR professional?
A. I clearly don’t like routine, so I am glad my job surprises me every day. I adhere to my JD, but every day is literally a new challenge. Employee relations is the most challenging and exciting section of HR, right from personal decision making to emotional intelligence. Having integrity above it all can be frustrating, but I like that.
Q. What qualities do you think are most important for strong leadership?
A. One who helps people to find their voice when they need it, but who doesn’t speak for them, and who doesn't speak behind their backs.
Q. What advice would you give to people who would like to work in the HR profession?
A. Think of HR as chance to practice becoming your largest self.
Dolphin Barongo is a HR Practitioner currently “Employee Relations Assistant” with Safaricom Limited in Nairobi, Kenya. You can connect with her on Twitter @onsombi and LinkedIn.
Dolphin Barongo: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
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