You would be surprised to see someone in his/her thirties as a general manager. You would think about, with a bit of jealousy, how s/he acquired this position. However the role of the human resources experts in bringing the young professional managers, who add value to the companies, is very important. The local conditions together with the crisis, has brought the HR’s at the age of a new cycle. The General Manager of world-wide known “headhunt” company Amrop International Turkey, Yeşim Toduk Akiş, PhD, has told Tempo the new developments and the future of the sector.

- Can we say that HR has reached peak levels in the last few years?

I see it just like the supply-demand balance in the economics. The number of qualified people who know foreign language, who are capable of top-level management, who can work both in Turkey and abroad, who are well educated, was very low. Therefore people with these qualities became distinguished. They became general managers before he age of 40. This human resource needed to be planned; the valuable employees needed to be kept within the company; and this group of people needed to be managed in a very special way. People pondered upon the questions of how this power could be developed and how it will contribute to the companies.

- Who determined the rules of HR?

HR has been a sub-branch of business administration for many years. People studying business administration also study human resources along with sales, marketing, accounting, finance, logistics, and production. Personnel specialists used to have an educational background of accounting psychology. What has changed in the last 10 years is that these people are now chosen among the people who had a business administration standpoint, together with high-level sales and management skills; who can be a member of the board of directors of the company, who can draw a strategic vision and determine the priorities for the company. Consequently, the identity of the human resources has changed. It has been living through its most terrible times for the last two years.

- Does this crisis have a connection with the economic crisis?

 Yes. The groups that used to grow started to shrink this time. In the process of shrinkage, they started to think about how this would take place; who they will dismiss; and how they will promote the people who deserves it. One of the most important functions of human resources is placing the right people in the right position.

- How far did they achieve this?

 Actually, I love being Turkish at that point. People didn’t only make scientific decisions; they also used their feelings in the matter. While human resources experts were deciding which one of the two people would be dismissed, they were bearing in mind whether this person had a family, whether there was another person working in the family, whether s/he is single. Personally, I approve of these decisions. Some companies didn’t dismiss anyone, but didn’t increase anyone’s wage either.

- Is this era of crisis over?

Less number of shrinkages is being experienced. Now we are faced with another crisis. Wage increases… We were used to inflation and 25 percent wage increase every year. Now, a new period without wage increases and official cars starts. The number of the official cars has started to diminish because of the shrinkage in the economy. HR has to execute a more significant mission from now on.

- Then the HR experts have to make right strategic decisions in this period?

HR groups will either be abolished – because it will be decided that they do nothing and add no value to the companies – or they will become the most important department of the companies. Earlier, young ladies knowing little about the profession used to find themselves as managers. However, it is not enough to “know” now; being able to “do”, having a strategic viewpoint, developing new ideas, and implementing them gained importance.

- No official car, no wage increase, no promotion… In what will the employees find consolation?    

 From now on, there are not many alternatives. The employees should give up their expectations for big and fast promotions and should give more importance to inner values. Instead of “What will I get from the company, they should say “What can I add to the company?” There will be more competition. In that sense, it is a period of sacrifice. This was experienced before in the world before. Everyone will start to do the best s/he can. For the first time, human resources managers and departments will undergo a real test.

- Has the world ever experienced the cycle Turkey is experiencing in the field of human resources now?

Departments that big have never ever been established that fast in the world! The HR departments of multinational companies in Turkey are generally made up of more people who are more educated and more knowledgeable. In the rest of the world such an effort and knowledge weren’t spent on this matter. In this respect, Turkey is a few steps ahead. HR becomes a trend. A company lacking an HR department seems outdated. The “personnel” sign has been replaced by the “human resources” sign.

- Do you think that the advertisements in the HR editions of the newspapers are satisfactory?

The advertisements are too comprehensive. For this reason, 300-500 people apply for a job for which 50 people should apply normally. Then it becomes more difficult to make selection among these candidates. The features should be written correctly.

- What are the global trends in human resources?

Performance evaluation systems are created on computers now; a system that evaluates everyone and increase their wages according to the value they add to the company. In multinational companies, the information about everyone is stored on computers. Transparency is the major policy. The biggest chaos emerges at the times of shrinkages and company marriages. In these processes HR has a lot of important duties to perform. Furthermore, small or middle scale enterprises in Anatolia want to establish HR departments. Earlier these companies used to have their acquaintances to keep their accounting books. They had a hard time in transition to working with financial experts. In the same way, they will have a hard time in transition from “personnel” to “human resources”.

- What is your advice for the unemployed people who have been looking for a job for a long time?

I have two advices for the unemployed: They should change their method of seeking job. It is not possible to reach success by repeating the same thing. They should get into the sectors they haven’t tried before and have different interviews. These would improve them. They shouldn’t insist on staying in Istanbul. There are many companies that are growing fast and in need of professional management. They should get into touch with the chambers of commerce and industry. My advice for the ones who are not content with their job is that they should find a job that they can adapt their talents and desires to. They should analyze themselves as a strategic product. They should determine the opportunities and risks considering all their advantageous and disadvantageous sides. 

- How should they determine their aim about money?

Money is not that important outside Istanbul. People should try to improve themselves and spend time with the people they love.