"We renamed the department, because we're interested in more than just human "resources"" - The Tenergie case!

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Glwadys CHAZAL, HR Director at Tenergie

Welcome to our blog Glwadys! Can you tell us about your company and your background?

Thanks Olivier! I am Glwadys Chazalrecently appointed Director of Human Relations at Tenergie. We've renamed the department, because we're interested in more than just "resources"; interpersonal relations are essential to us. 

Tenergie is an independent renewable energy producer founded in 2008. The team now includes almost 250 employees spread over five branches in France. I manage a team of six and have been with the company since 2018, when I set up the first HR department.

That's great, and I can feel your pride when you talk about human relations. What is your vision of the ideal pairing between a HR director and a CEO?

For me, the ideal pairing is based on a mutual understanding of needs. The HR Director must be a business partner, understanding the company's various activities, including financial aspects, in order to adapt his recommendations to the CEO. At the same time, the CEO needs to understand the legal issues and be proactive in HR matters, so as not to wait passively for action to be taken.

How do you see recruitment and HR? Are they the same thing for you?

No, it's not the same thing. Recruitment is about understanding an outsider and selling the company to them. It's a mutual sales game with the candidate. Human relations, on the other hand, are about promoting the corporate culture to internal employees, who must embody it on a daily basis. The objectives for my recruitment team and my human relations team are therefore different.

Do you think recruitment could be a department in its own right?

Yes, that could be the case. At Tenergie, the human relations department is part of the COMEX, which gives me a global view of recruitment issues. It also helps Mariam of my team to anticipate recruitment needs, since we hire between 60 and 80 people a year. However, it's not possible to have an inordinately large COMEX to cover all functions.

Has general management always had this people-oriented culture?

Yes, this culture was already embodied by my president. He's very people-oriented. Even his former DG/DGA partner shared this vision. Today, he advocates, if necessary, a case-by-case approach to supporting employees, taking into account the impact of personal life on professional life, and this is still supported today by our Managing Director, who fully endorses this approach.

What gave you a taste for human relations?

My background is in employment law. I started out in law firms and did internships in HR, but I couldn't see myself staying cooped up in an office dealing with complex legal cases. I was attracted by the human contact, by the desire to accompany disagreements before conflicts arose. That's why I took a Master's degree in HR, which led to a work-study placement at Tenergie. There, I was really able to explore the field and apply my interpersonal skills within the company.

What would you say to a candidate wondering about the world of renewable energy?

This sector is constantly on the move, which makes it ideal for someone who is very curious. It's always influenced by the regulatory environment, which keeps you informed and up to date. Renewable energies, in particular, are fascinating because they evolve so quickly. It's also a field linked to the preservation of the environment, but also of the human beings who are part of that environment. Companies in the renewable energy sector generally have a strong caring culture and focus on preserving not just the environment, but also the people who work there. This creates a working environment where human values are as important as business objectives.

How do you see the profession of recruiter or talent acquisition manager evolving?

In my opinion, in the next few years, sourcing as we know it will be replaced by AI, which will pre-select candidates on the basis of defined criteria. However, the psychological aspect and social analysis will remain irreplaceable by machines. The recruiter's role will be to ensure that personalities meet and build together within the company.

I also think that the profession will evolve towards that of a talent agent, both external and internal to the company, similar to what we see in sport or film. These agents will work closely together to help talent grow, develop and manage their careers. What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

The most difficult thing is sometimes to deal with situations where certain managers fail to take charge of important issues, which requires in-depth work with employees and managers. Another challenge is the behavior of candidates, who are becoming increasingly demanding and whose expectations are sometimes disconnected from the reality of the market. I also have to manage the urgency of certain issues, such as payroll and legal aspects, which can be complex and difficult to reconcile with the urgency of the business.

What message would you like to send to those entering the HR job market? What advice would you give them for a successful career in human relations?

I'd tell them to be pugnacious, resilient and position themselves as business partners. It's essential not to suffer the HR function, but to be proactive in order to get closer to the business. Without this proactivity, it's difficult to have the desired impact in its essential support role for the company.

Do you think there's a preferred route to success in HR, between law and business schools?

Personally, I think the law is essential because it has helped me to structure all HR on a legal basis, and it also develops a spirit of research and questioning. However, my team includes people from specialized HR schools, such as SUP-DRH in Paris, which covers all aspects of HR with a practical approach. I recommend a mixed background in law and HR, as this is fundamental to the day-to-day life of HR.

Is there a question you'd like me to ask before I close?

Perhaps I'd like to talk about what I ask of my teams on a daily basis. My answer would be that HR is lived in the field. Telecommuting is useful for editorial tasks or to isolate oneself on certain subjects, but it should be a one-off. HR needs to be as close as possible to the business on the ground to really understand the day-to-day human aspect and the compatibility of each personality.

Many thanks for your time and sharing Glwadys!