Sharell Thomas-Hodge is an accomplished HR leader with more than 20 years of experience. She got her start in retail, serving as a HR manager for Target. At the time, she was responsible for the management of all HR functions at her location and, according to Thomas-Hodge, was “instrumental in the successful opening of a few stores” in her district.
She then segued as an HR Consultant, working for the Bahamas government in various ministries where she created and implemented performance and compensation management strategies. In addition, she advised on areas of opportunities in total rewards. This spark ignited a flame and over the past five years, Thomas-Hodge has since become a subject matter expert in all thing’s total rewards.
So much so, that she’s leveraged her experience in benefits and compensation to oversee the total rewards strategy at a few organizations. This includes her current role as Total Rewards Director at the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, a 179-year-old community focused nonprofit that provides educational and recreational programs and services for all ages.
In her role, she manages the strategy and administration of the total rewards function. “My key accomplishments to date have been the successful launch of pay for performance strategies and the successful completion of a pay equity audit,” she recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “I am also the CEO of the Sharell Group, a speaking coaching and consultancy firm. I also serve as a board member of the HR Committee of the Atlanta Mission.”
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Meet Sharell Thomas-Hodge.
How did you get your start in the field?
In college, my major was Economics. I took an elective class in human resources and fell in love with it. That was the beginning.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
It has always been my managers. My manager at Target was empathetic and eloquent and I admired her. She also believed in me and forced me to apply for my first management role. Since then, I’ve had fearless leaders to coach me.
What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?
Not building partnerships and collaboration but expecting buy-in. Early in my career, I was in the process of creating an incentive plan as a part of a recent acquisition to create synergy across the organization. I was so eager to prove myself that I built this in silo without understanding the norms or company culture. It was a bad idea. The launch was an epic failure and I realize that buy-in happens early and with collaboration.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?
My favorite part about working in this industry is the people I serve. I wouldn’t change a thing other than my ability to constantly adapt, grow, and be empathetic to others.
It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.
Being concerned about others is critical to HR especially during these times of burnout and talent shortage. My job is to always make others feel safe and comfortable sharing with me but it starts with intentional relationship building. People will open up if they trust you. People will trust you if you are authentic and concerned. Both of which are a part of my DNA.
How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?
Be a strategic thinker. Every great organization needs HR leaders who align with the company’s goals. It is imperative to learn those goals, make it your business to know what’s possible. Finally support those goals.
Where do you see the industry heading in five years?
HR will continue to be a critical function as we continue to face the talent shortage. There will be a huge focus on analytics and employee upskilling.
What are you most proud of?
The people I’ve helped along the journey. They are my “why.”
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
Look for mentorship early. There are so many places to gather and connect with HR professionals, you should never be working alone!