Ovell Barbee: Transforming Organizations for Modern Success

Ovell Barbee: Transforming Organizations for Modern Success | Mr. Business Magazine

The digital transformation has made Human Resources consultancy essential in today’s business environment. Electronic technology provides efficiency, automation, data-driven decision-making, and global collaboration capabilities. They are essential for organizations to remain competitive, compliant, and active, particularly in managing remote workforces and complex HR challenges. Industry leaders drive innovation, align digital HR strategies with business objectives, manage change effectively, utilize data analytics for insights, and cultivate partnerships for ongoing improvement. They play a key role in modernizing HR practices, improving employee experiences, and ensuring organizational success through strategic digital HR initiatives.

Ovell Barbee, Principal of Ask Ovell, is a well-known leader in Human Resources consulting. He believes in life-long learning and maintains his HR credentials and certifications by actively participating in educational forums as both a participant and presenter. This dedication allows him to stay updated with industry trends, adapt to changing market conditions, and address changing customer needs effectively. 

Dream Inspired by Decades of Passion

Ovell Barbee was inspired to start his company to fulfill a dream he had envisioned 20 years ago. His goal is to take a “human-centered” approach to providing advice and counsel in the field of Human Resources. He strongly advocates for building community and aims to showcase HR’s value in positively impacting the workplace. Throughout his career, Ovell gained a unique perspective by leading Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the C-Suite level.

In his book, “The Big House,” he discusses directing the complexities and challenges in the DEI space through a systematic review of what he refers to as “the three Ps”—policies, practices, and procedures. These areas play a significant role in shaping different outcomes. As a practitioner, Ovell recognized the importance of utilizing data to highlight these outcomes as he worked towards implementing interventions for change. Employing data is crucial in mitigating emotionally charged debates that may arise when discussing DEI.

Innovative Platform

Ovell Barbee Rome and Associates, operating as Ask Ovell, offers a broad spectrum of HR consulting services. It specializes in strategy development and assessment across Compensation, Employee Relations, Talent Acquisition, Benefits, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Organizational Restructuring, Right-Sizing, and Workplace Culture. The firm also specializes in creating workforce strategies and conducting assessments. Ovell offers interim Human Resources leadership services and has been instrumental in driving transformative initiatives for clients.

Ask Ovell provides a platform for individuals to ask questions they may not feel comfortable posing to HR colleagues in their workplace. Questions are submitted through his website, and selected queries are transformed into video segments featuring a summary of the question and Ovell’s response. Each segment concludes with his signature sign-off, “You Better Ask Somebody!” This tagline reinforces Ovell’s core belief of “Use Your Voice.” 

The Challenge of Silence

One of the significant challenges faced by Ovell in the DEI space is the issue of silence. Without open dialogue, there is limited opportunity for learning. He has noticed that when conversations about racism, discrimination, or diversity arise, rooms filled with upper-management leaders tend to fall into silence. This silence may stem from a fear of making others uncomfortable, hindering progress towards change. Ovell Barbee is concerned about the current anti-DEI sentiment in the country and its effect on progress made and the work that remains to be done. Data from communities nationwide demonstrate the need for continued investment in DEI efforts to ensure equal opportunities for all individuals to succeed. 

In the changing field of HR, Ovell Barbee reminds HR professionals to recognize the humanity of the people within organizations. When establishing workforce practices, it is essential to prioritize the well-being of individuals and emphasize the human aspect of HR.

Bridging Gaps in Workplace Inclusion

Ask Ovell specializes in managing a wide range of HR-related issues for employees at all levels, focusing on assisting C-level executives with workforce strategy development. Ovell Barbee and his associates also have expertise in developing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies. Ovell is exploring opportunities to expand his offerings, including launching services tailored for small businesses, building on the success of the Ask Ovell platform. 

Redefining HR Goals for Future Success

Ovell Barbee discusses his “Future Vision of HR”  in his book, The Big House, a best seller published in 2023. He maintains that the future of HR, aimed at retaining and attracting talent, necessitates disruption. His vision includes four main components:

  • People Experience: Acknowledging that employees want to bring their complete selves to work, HR should focus on creating people-centric experiences. This principle should influence every interaction with the workforce, including candidates.
  • Engage & Include: Previous HR goals have been centered on attracting, retaining, and rewarding employees. A new approach is needed that emphasizes building a diverse team that collaborates to address business and individual challenges.
  • Human-Centered: Ovell promotes the idea of welcoming the “whole person” into the workplace, emphasizing the significance of the “human” aspect in human resources.
  • Individually-Focused: Recognizing that team members have varying priorities, HR initiatives should provide a balance of consistent structure and flexibility to effectively meet individual needs.
Ovell Barbee: Transforming Organizations for Modern Success | Mr. Business Magazine

Shaping a Lasting Legacy

Ovell Barbee’s leadership philosophy is guided by his desire to shape his legacy. He believes it is important that his decisions and actions as a leader reflect the qualities he would like others to associate with him, viewing this as an opportunity to influence the narrative of his legacy while he can do so.

His legacy includes giving back to the community. Ovell repaid all the scholarship money he received to the organizations that supported his higher education. And through “Barbee’s Book Club,” he pays for four years of college books and supplies for a graduating student from his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, urging them to do the same for others. 

Ovell utilizes a team of contract resources with a wide range of expertise to effectively meet the needs of clients. He and his team exemplify the “gig economy” in action. Ovell Barbee actively seeks advice from various stakeholders, some of whom serve as mentors, while others are valued members of his network. His goal in these collaborations is to listen attentively and seek valuable feedback, allowing him to successfully integrate a diverse range of insights in strategies for clients. 

Building Trust through Long-Term Relationships

The success of Ask Ovell can be attributed to its strong focus on clients that prioritizes long-term relationships based on trust and feedback. This client-centric approach has played a key role in maintaining client relationships and expanding the company’s reach and impact. A significant moment that contributed to Ask Ovell’s growth was the release of Ovell’s firstbook in the summer of 2023. In August of that year, the book quickly rose to the top spot as a new release on Amazon in three categories: Human Resources, Workforce Inclusion, and Organizational Behavior.

Ovell Barbee carefully balances innovation, risk-taking, stability, and profitability with intention. His strategy involves maintaining a consistent growth pace, while staying true to his sense of community. An example of this is his online“Ask Ovell” platform, where he provides free HR advice, balancing  his passion for assisting others, with his revenue-generating activities of consulting and speaking engagements. 

Professional Achievements

Ovell Barbee: Transforming Organizations for Modern Success | Mr. Business Magazine

Ovell’s journey demonstrates a dedication to excellence and innovation in HR, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, making him a thought leader in these fields. 

Ovell’s Accolades and Contributions
Leadership AwardsTop-50 HR Professionals by OnConTop-100 Chief Diversity Officer by the National Diversity CouncilTop-50 Under 50 Executive by the National Black MBA AssociationGrand Rapids Community College Public Service GIANT AwardCrain’s Grand Rapids Notable Leaders in HR
Media Features
HauteAmerican Healthcare Leaders MagazineAuthority magazineCorp! magazineFox-2 DetroitWZZM-13 Grand Rapids
Thought LeadershipChair & Presenter-Healthcare HR Management Institute’s National ForumBecker’s Healthcare Annual Meeting PodcastNational Black Men in Leadership Summit presenterGrand Rapids Urban League MLK Day KeynoteCorp! Magazine Salute to Diversity Conference panelist

Share Now: