Managing HR better

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Industrial Relations is a profession that plays a major role in organisations. It governs relations between employers and employees.

Dr Tim Rametse, deputy managing director at Medscheme Health, has an extensive knowledge in this regard.

"My role requires me to ensure that Medscheme has effective strategies, infrastructure, systems, capable human resources and an environment that makes it possible to fully deliver the contractual obligations to which we have committed ourselves. As deputy MD of Medscheme Health, I also shoulder the responsibility for strategy formulation and developing strategic relations at Medscheme Health and at Medscheme Holdings level as executive director."

Rametse studied human resources at Technical Northern Transvaal and Labour Law at the University of Pretoria

"I enjoyed working in the medical scheme environment and when I left my first job I put my experience in this sector to good use.

"You could say I entered into the industry by default. I have no regrets though - I love every bit of it. I enjoy building great teams, setting up organisational structures and transition towards doing things smarter."

Applying his education and 14 years experience in the field has been very helpful in Rametse's job

"Overseeing a team of almost 400 highly skilled people requires a thorough working knowledge of the business principles and industrial relations basics.

"The skills I possess assist in achieving a balance between driving delivery and performance with what I call the 'human touch'. Often peoples' issues influence productivity. It is about building relations with individual staff, teams, departments, business units and divisions," Rametse says.

In his position it is essential to transfer skills to his colleagues for the growth of the team and the company.

"I transfer skills through leading by example and mentoring individuals in my team. I firmly believe that if people respect you as their leader, they will emulate you, which is an effective way of achieving the transfer of general skills and business ethics.

"This gives me the opportunity to guide them in their thinking and influence their decision-making skills, management principles and techniques applicable to various business scenarios," says Rametse.

Working in industrial relations as a senior practitioner requires various skills and capabilities.

One needs a rigorous understanding of the legislative framework governing the industry.

It is also crucial to network and interact regularly with key decision makers in the industry, to know the competition and their claim to success, and have a deep understanding of the customers' needs.

It is also crucial to have a clear strategy on how to achieve your vision.

"I believe a person needs to have a well rounded set of skills to succeed at this level in this business.

"Excellent negotiation, networking, management and interpersonal skills are absolutely essential but these must be supplemented with well developed business, financial and strategic skills.

"Time management is also a critical skill. Skills are not enough on their own though. It is vital to have the drive and will to succeed, as well as the self-discipline to set career and achieve career goals," says Rametse.

Challenges turn into learning opportunities. This profession, like any other, has its stumbling blocks.

Rametse says the challenges faced by the South African healthcare industry can be summed up in one phrase - improving access to quality healthcare.

"The right to healthcare is enshrined in the South African Constitution and both the public and private players have been grappling with the issue. I believe we are on the right path but fundamental transformation of any industry is always tricky.

"Ultimately the solution lies in government and the private sector collaborating in developing innovative and uniquely South African solutions," he says.

Every day is different for Rametse.

"I plan the day before catching up with e-mails and delegating what is appropriate. There are also strategic meetings as well as meetings with clients.

" I ensure that I allocate enough time to cementing relationships with clients and key industry people. An average working day lasts about 13 hours.

"I try to avoid taking work home whenever possible so that I have time with my family."

Rametse says it is essential to join the Board of Healthcare Funders and the Private Healthcare Forum and Financial Planning Institute to obtain industry-specific education and qualifications. Accreditation as an intermediary is also a good idea for those who want to enter this field.

"I have regular informal meetings with executives from competing administrators, medical scheme executives and practising healthcare professionals as well as key industry opinion leaders. Reading and research are useful tools."