Psychological safety highlighted as a business priority during CHRO Dinner in Cape Town

Top HR executives discussed office bullies and how to deal with them in big corporates. 

CHRO South Africa hosted its first-ever dinner for HR executives in Cape Town on 28 October 2019.  The event marked another milestone for the fast-growing South African CHRO community, which will also come together at the inaugural CHRO Awards on 27 November – and is looking forward to the launch of CHRO Day in 2020.

Supported by the HR and finance tech gurus from Workday, the dinner at The Stack in Gardens, was attended by some of the leading HR leaders in the Cape, including Senta Morley from TFG, Shelagh Goodwin from Media24, Bertina Engelbrecht from Clicks, Nathan Motjuwadi from Capitec, and Celiwe Ross from Old Mutual.

Dr Renata Schoeman, psychiatrist and lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, joined the dinner as an expert guest speaker, following on from her enthusiastically received appearance as a keynote speaker at this year’s HR Indaba Africa.

Renata took the dinner guests on a fascinating journey around personality, personality traits and personality disorders. Stories were shared around the table regarding incredibly challenging situations with difficult colleagues, incident reports from colleagues, and resistance from the most guilty parties to change their behaviour and ways. 

There are a lot of misconceptions about bullying as people tend to assume it is something that is only physical or verbal and driven from top-down, Renata explained. In fact, bullying, narcissistic behaviour and psychopathic behavior can take various shapes and forms. It could be something as simple as purposefully excluding people from conversations and information, intentionally alienating people through “cliques” and inner circles and even star employees manipulating team members for their own personal gain.

It was agreed that as the custodian of people and policies, HR leaders must create a culture of psychological safety, which needs to be ingrained within the team to ensure companies are creating and promoting a healthy working environment. When there is an environment of psychological safety, the teams and organisations feel more empowered, productivity and retention is improved, and the organisations experience a more positive employee engagement score. 

It was a thought-provoking evening, unpacking an extremely relevant topic over a scrumptious meal and a glass of wine. The dinner guests were delighted to meet new peers and reconnect with others. They have already professed to be looking forward to the next CHRO South Africa event in Cape Town – which will be the CHRO SA Summit on 1 April 2020.

Workday’s Zuko Mdwaba and Tafadzwa Bimha also reflected on a successful evening of relationship building, while gaining intimate insights into some complex HR topics.