Faculty Spotlight: Tom Hayashi on Finding Common Ground

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Tom Hayashi

Photo: Tom Hayashi

Dr. Tom Hayashi is a southern California native who runs Capacity Empowerment, a consulting firm, out of the Bay Area. His over 20 years of experience, combined with having a front row seat in the social innovation and technology capital of the world, has also allowed him to stay on top of trends, such as talent management and organizational design, in the rapidly-evolving field of HR.

Dr. Hayashi teaches Organizational Design and Talent Management courses and talked about getting his start in HR management, his leadership experience and how the changing societal landscape is affecting the HR industry.

How did you get started in HR?

I started out in nursing school and, while ultimately I did not pursue nursing, I ended up actually being on the management side in healthcare. When I worked in various hospital settings that’s when I really was exposed to how organizations are structured and the ways in which healthcare organizations would respond to the various needs within their target audience.

I had an opportunity to transition from healthcare to the nonprofit sector and that’s when I pivoted to development (fundraising), program management, and strategic planning. I moved up to the Director and Executive ranks within a number of nonprofit organizations.

What kind of human resource management challenges are most pervasive in the healthcare field?

One of the areas we’re observing the in the healthcare industry is, how to balance the traditional need for human capital — primarily of healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, technicians and the like that provide care to a client base — with technical innovations – robotics being applied to surgery, artificial intelligence, genetic technologies, etc.

Another trend we are seeing being played out is the deployment of healthcare providers outside of the traditional hospitals, into clinics and in-home care, particularly as people are living longer than ever before.

How do these challenges filter up to HR?

As you can imagine, you’re always interested in being able to recruit and retain top talent in various disciplines. Sometimes there’s this issue of supply and demand, depending on the market in which the healthcare organization is operating. You have to be able to understand the needs of the workforce for your organization and its market and how to best meet those staffing needs.

One of the concepts in the HRM 515: Organizational Design course is techno-social strategies for addressing talent management, and quickly and accurately analyzing data, which suggest when and how to manage changes in the workforce. Future changes to consider in the healthcare industry include: When and how might robotics take more prominent role in performing surgeries, laboratory tests, and bedside care? When might these care functions currently being served by people become more autonomous? How might technological change trigger job designs and organizational re-design?

Anytime technology changes you have to make sure employees are up to date with their skills and knowledge in applying some of these medical innovations. Also, you have to be cognizant of the need for leadership in these organizations so that you address ways to plan for succession certainly at the very top and also in the middle layer of the organization as well.

What new aspects of HR will the next generation of MSHRM students have to face?

There’s more of an emphasis in our daily lives to integrate technology in everything you do. For instance, Airbnb is a disruptor in the industry. It’s competing directly against the hotel industry, but as one of the biggest hospitality companies in the world now, Airbnb does not have as many employees in the organization as their competitors. Their workforce is more geared toward engineering and technology-driven employees that address how to further improve their applications and company offerings to not only include crowd-sourced lodging, but also curated “unforgettable” travel experiences (such as a tour that includes all the best places to take a selfie in Los Angeles!). HR leaders will need to come up with new ways to source these creative geniuses that can keep companies on the cutting edge.

What motivates you?

Working with clients as an organizational development practitioner, I am presented with new problems almost on a daily basis. I get to work in a variety of sectors and with different thought leaders to come up with ways to turn problems into opportunities. There’s an element of surprise and challenge to it that I tend to thrive on. I get a lot of satisfaction from starting out not knowing anything about, let’s say why there is not much diversity in higher education or cultural traits of military branches that ignore characteristics of toxic leadership that contributes to harassment. You end up being a semi-expert in a certain area because you quickly try to learn about the operational characteristics of the organization to the leadership philosophies that influence what we see as the ultimate outcomes. As a consultant, researcher, and HR leader, you not only come up with recommendations, but you also work with various units within organizations to help implement them as a team and then take a step back to see the lessons learned (and repeat)!

Being able to contribute to the growth and sustainability of organizations is one of the reasons why I’m in this field as a practitioner and to also engage in the learning process with students at USC Bovard College.

What drew you to USC Bovard College?

I really appreciate the institutional commitment to innovation and academic excellence, coupled with an emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Since the MSHRM program was a new program, I like the idea of being part of an initiative at its genesis.

One of the things I find very rewarding is when I have students in class, where week one they had no idea what a strategy is for an organization and by week even two, three, or four, they’re talking like an HR leader, which they were all along, but now they have the language, the knowledge, and the inspiration for tackling some interesting and important challenges. I see the MSHRM program at Bovard to be a bridge for bright, motivated professionals to join this vast field of opportunities. We also desperately need diversity of HR leadership.

To be invited to be a partner in developing the future leaders in HR and organizational development is one of the best opportunities there is and I am honored to be a part of the USC Bovard College team.

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