Bradford Wilkins: The Biggest Disrupters In HR Are Speed And Simplicity
I spoke to Bradford Wilkins, a Vice President Human Resources at Altisource,is a leading provider of real estate, mortgage, asset recovery and customer relationship management services. In the interview, Wilkins talks about the biggest disrupters in the HR space, how HR leaders can tie what they do to business results, how he was able to move to the top ranks of HR at a young age, adapting to a global workforce and his best advice.
For Altisource, he oversees the Human Resource and Recruitment functions in the US, Uruguay and Luxembourg. Responsible for formulating and implementing Altisource’s strategy to be the employer of choice. Previously, he was the Vice President of Talent Management for Adcap Systems Inc. At Adcap, he was known for the creation of their apprentice programs for sales and technical roles. In 2014 was named the top U.S. recruiter by TheLadders.com and in 2015, he was named a Workforce GameChanger.
Dan Schawbel: As a forward thinker in talent management, what are the major changes you’re seeing in your profession and how can leaders prepare for those changes?
Bradford Wilkins: The single biggest disruptors are speed and simplicity. Defining what needs to be down, how do we do it, why should we do it, and how will it be measured. That is the essence of the new Talent Management conversations that are results oriented; not process driven. Complex performance reviews that require a nuclear physicist to decipher won’t be tolerated. The annual review and bell curve is dead (even GE got rid of their bell curve!). Employees of ALL ages, not just millennials, will no longer wait for feedback that will help accelerate their 3 C’s – career, compensation and contentment. Offer CLEAR Career Paths, Learning Objectives, Expectations, Accountabilities and Rewards. If you don’t, they’ll leave. There are too many other options for them in the human capital marketplace. Or even worse, they might stay.
Schawbel: Based on the results you’ve generated for your companies, how can HR leaders tie their performance to revenue or cost savings?
Wilkins: First, it is imperative that the HR evaluation is directly tied to the same measurement as the CEO or Business Unit they support. If it is topline revenue, EBITDA, shareholder value, etc – it doesn’t matter. What matters if HR is defining success the same way as the executive leadership. Take the time to truly define the hard and soft costs of all the impact areas regarding people. Digging deeper into understanding the differences between correlation and causation. HR should be part of the driver of increased value – instead of begging for a seat the table, I like hosting the dinner parties!
Schawbel: At such a young age, how were you able to shoot up the corporate ladder and make a name for yourself?
Wilkins: Faith, family, friends. Then working harder every single day to strengthen and honor those relationships. Nothing else is possible without that foundation. It allows me to take risks and find opportunity to learn in every facet of my life. As a basketball referee, I learned about managing gray, harsh self-reflection and conflict resolution. As a professional wrestler, I learned the importance of making someone else look amazing; a great match is only as good as the selflessness of the participants. As a theater major, I learned about the power of collaboration, highlighting different perspectives and the concept of opening night; you bring everything you can to the table and whatever happens when the curtain goes up, you adjust. These are my unique experiences that I’ve incorporated into strategies/methodologies; so far I’ve been very blessed.
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Schawbel: You’ve led teams and are accountable for a global workforce. How does a leader, such as yourself, adapt to cultural and geographical differences?
Wilkins: This is so simple: Go first! The people who struggle with managing a global workforce are the ones who make it more complicated than it needs to be. At Altisource, we are a global company and I have colleagues across multiple continents. Our teams in India are a huge part of our success so I try to greet them with a Namaste (Hello in Hindi) and learn a short Hindi phrase on Google translate each day. They stay late into the night to support the US hours of operation; so I try to occasionally volunteer to do midnight meetings my time which is mid-morning for them. Taking the time to understand their culture, values, expectations and not just try to force American centricity down their throats. Leverage the differences as a strength instead of get caught up on the challenges those differences may present.