Interview #6 Petra Ehrlicher: "Prioritize goals and define B and C in addition to a plan A!"
Petra Ehrlicher

Good day, everyone! Look, autumn's here already. The first cold days came. In the meantime, we have prepared a new interview with an HR specialist for you.

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” –  Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas

Today our guest is an HR professional with more than 30 years of experience along the employee life/work circle  Petra Ehrlicher.

Petra Ehrlicher

Quick facts about our guest:

  • Experience in projects: youth projects with the government, international student programs, apprentices projects with chambers of commerce and pieces of training up to executive level, organization change projects.
  •  Passion for people development, recruiting and onboarding, filling of more than 500 positions, white and blue-collar experience, personnel development programs up to management level.
  • HR consultant and head coach, participation in customer forums, pilot projects in reorganization and restructuring, company culture change projects, leadership change, HR communication.
  • Achievements: HR innovation award "Generation management and demographics", presentations at universities (Düsseldorf, Dortmund), press releases, tv reports.

AO: Petra, nice to meet you! Let's start our interview. Here is the first question. Can you share your thoughts on why HR is an important function in any organization?

P: In addition to the economic aspects, the purpose of a company is also to create and maintain jobs. HR can perform this important task extensively and professionally.

AO: Name, please, three areas that you feel need the most improvement, based on your understanding of common HR practices.

P: At first: the understanding in the whole company for the purpose and participation of the employees. Do you love your staff?

Than: onboarding coaching for the first 100 days is very important.

And not at least: empowerment and engagement in agile teams.

AO: Where do you see the HR industry in the next 5 years?

P: HR is increasingly becoming a moderator and coach for executives to manage agile teams and change processes. HR must ensure the framework for organizational and employee development along the entire employee life circle. So it needs a total change in the HR Mindset and how companies view and respect HR.

The employee lifecycle
Image source:

AO: What would you say are the biggest challenges of working in HR? and how do you deal with them?

P: One of the greatest challenges is to gain appreciation and acceptance for HR among the management. HR must be perceived as valuable and effective and create the transformation from a shared service center to a member of the management. I tried and tried and tried and the key is communication.

AO: Petra, can you name one (or several) HR experts whose work do you highly appreciate or take as an example?

P: One of my favorite HR role models is Tom Peters, he maybe isn´t an HR Leader but he Inspired me permanently.

Thomas J. Peters is an American writer on business management practices, best known for In Search of Excellence.  

Also, Thomas Sattelberger for me is a strong and loud fighter for new HR.

Thomas Sattelberger is a German manager and politician of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) who has been serving as a member of the Bundestag from the state of Bavaria since 2017. Mr. Sattelberger served as the Chief Human Resources Officer and a Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Telekom. He was also a Head of Human Resources of Continental AG.

AO: How does the onboarding of new employees go into your company?

P: Sadly no so good: short, quick and not individual and personal. The new employees need to work in a short time…there is much to optimize.

What are the best ideas for onboarding new employees?

AO: What traditions your company has and what is your favorite one?

P: A strong community, good cooperation and safe workplaces. My favorite one is, that every manager always has an open ear for the personal problems of employees – also the CEO. 

AO: Petra, what is the most valuable professional development advice you have ever gotten?

P: Prioritize my goals and define B and C in addition to a plan A. To concentrate on these goals and to pursue them consistently. And to always remain myself.


AO: Let's talk about the current situation. How do you think the HR industry has changed in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic?

P: The willingness of managers to adopt more flexible working time models such as mobile working has become much greater. Space and trust had to be given, all previous processes were put to the test and employees were involved. Great. This exceptional situation has to become and remain normal and HR is the driver for finding also digital solutions.

AO: Interesting, and has your company experienced switching to remote work? How did you prepare employees for such changes?

P: Our employees are all competent in the application of the necessary IT. Those who didn't have a Laptop got rental equipment, the teams helped and supported each other with questions. There were no problems here. HR wasn´t involved.  

Switching to 'Work From Home'? Best tips to keep employees safe and increase productivity.

AO: Did you work somewhere before becoming an HR professional, why did you decide to become an HR? 

P: My motivation was and is to help people to develop in the best possible way and to provide performance for the company. I am a good coach who wants to create fair working conditions and constructively shape the life work circle.

AO: And the last question, Petra. What was the funniest/most unusual incident during your HR practice?

P: I experienced one of the funniest situations with one of my bosses, who had a very quick-tempered temperament. He hit his desk with his fist and all his files – about 20 of them – fell over like dominoes. After a short surprise, we looked at each other and started laughing. His anger at me was gone.  

That's all for today! Petra Ehrlicher was our guest today. We hope you enjoyed the interview. In case you would like to ask your own questions, write down them in the comments. Also, if you want to read an interview with a particular person, let us know.

Learn more about LMS 2.0 Platform for employee training.

Take care 😇

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