Jeff Lindeman: "The best HR professionals are the ones who fully understand the business they’re in."
INSTRUCTOR PROFILE, TEN QUESTIONS:
Jeff Lindeman serves as senior director for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which operates the region’s major airport, San Diego International Airport.
Each day, nearly 500 daily flights arrive and depart from the facility, carrying nearly 18 million passengers each year.
Lindeman oversees the airport’s human resources, along with marketing, and public relations departments.
Befitting his role in the global aviation industry, Lindeman loves to travel. His most recent sojourns took him to Europe and the South Pacific for a friend’s destination wedding, plus stopovers in New Zealand and Australia.
While in college, he pursued a non-traditional path toward an undergraduate degree, attending multiple universities before graduating. Always curious about exploring the world around him, “I discovered that I loved working more than I loved sitting in a classroom.”
A UC San Diego Extension instructor for over four years, he currently teaches two courses – Performance Management Systems and Strategic Talent Acquisition. Both courses are offered within Extension’s Human Resource Management Certificate program.
View Jeff Lindeman’s Instructor video
1) What makes the HR profession so exciting for you?
From my earliest days in this career, driving business results was synonymous with the alignment of the efforts of the people involved in the business. In my first job, running a $2.5 million department for a Macy’s in King of Prussia, PA, we doubled our revenues in a two-year period to $5 million through focusing on the people. After that, I realized that my passion was in aligning people’s efforts with organizational goals. Eventually, I asked for, and was granted, a transfer into the HR function at Macy’s.
2) What did you do differently?
What I chose to do as a business leader was to work with our people more as professionals, investing in their professional growth and development. In turn, they treated the customers more professionally – and our sales went up. Along the way, we also reduced turnover, improved attendance and increased productivity.
3) Besides safe flight operations, what’s the goal of the airport authority?
We are in charge of day-to-day operations, with an emphasis on safe, secure and efficient operations – but we also have a responsibility to operate the airport in such a way that promotes the prosperity of the San Diego region and protects the quality of life.
4) What do you expect your students to know after they’ve taken your courses?
Overall, I hope that they walk out understanding the business value of the content we covered. All of my courses are designed around the goal of having an impact on organizational outcomes.
5) What’s the most valuable asset an HR director brings?
While there are many ways for the HR function to contribute to an organization, I happen to believe that the most important way in which an HR professional can help an organization is to hire the right talent. That talent should be right for what is required not only for today, but also have the capacity to evolve over time, as the business evolves.
6) What’s the best way to make that evaluation?
If you’re hiring for where your business strategy is taking your business, you’re making a far better decision than if you just hire to fit a job description reflecting current needs. These days, hiring at some organizations is like ordering at a fast-food restaurant. You go through the process and then hire the least-problematic person who is minimally competent. I would rather ask: “What’s the most we can get out of this process? And, how do we hire the person that can add the greatest value?”
7) What’s the most insightful advice you could give someone who’s thinking about an HR career?
The best HR professionals are the ones who fully understand the business they’re in – and conduct their activities in direct support of that business.
8) What do you first say to a new hire, once they’ve been selected?
Of course, I welcome them and get to know them a bit. Then, what I try to do is help them see how they were selected out of a pool, however large, because of their unique characteristics that were identified and stood out in the selection process. And I tell them that we look forward to having those talents added to our organization.
9) What are the least enjoyable aspects of the role?
I’d say that the most disappointing part of the job is when I believe in somebody more than they believe in themselves.
10) What have you most learned about people from your travels?
It doesn’t matter where I have gone — whether it’s Shanghai, Santiago or Stuttgart — the people I have met have all wanted the same thing: A good life for themselves and their families. Wherever I am, I always keep that in mind.