People not Processes Breed Innovation

Innovation gives companies an edge, creates new opportunities and is critical in driving growth. Arguably innovation is critical for any organisation to survive these days.  So, how can business leaders create a culture where creative thinking, questioning assumptions, and taking measured risks becomes the norm?  How can they not just encourage this kind of behaviour and mindset, but actually develop these as skills within their workforce?

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How can HR and Talent professionals really make a difference?

In an environment where innovation flourishes, people work in teams with a variety of skills, experiences and abilities; they give and receive a rounded perspective, enabling everyone the opportunity to learn from others. Of course, an open mind set is absolutely fundamental to this. Employees need to be open to new ideas, and to do that they need to trust one another.  They must learn to trust their colleagues, their managers, and the leaders of the business.

Creating a ‘psychologically safe’ learning environment is also key for an innovative culture to flourish. We know innovation isn’t an inherent ability; it has to be nurtured and developed and so organisations look to their HR and L&D teams to develop these abilities and enable people to explore the skills needed.

The systems, processes, and organisational structures also play a huge part in enabling people to innovate.  HR and talent teams have an important role to play in breaking down silos and facilitating department leaders’ to open their minds to alternative ways of approaching activities, solving problems and adding value.

Furthermore, there is a huge demand for open communication and project-based work, all of which require a strong, business focussed HR structure supporting them if they are to be delivered effectively. Ideas need to be shared at both an operational level and strategic one too.  HR is in the prime position to drive this forward, by joining all the dots.

Finally, we know that people respond best when given the freedom to do the work they enjoy but also when they feel they are recognised and rewarded for their efforts. A more complex performance management system may be required for project-based organisations where individuals have more than one manager inputting into performance reviews.

It is worth remembering that people, not processes, breed innovation and the role of HR is crucial in facilitating this culture. If you are looking for help to develop your organisation’s innovative culture contact us.

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How do you Improve Employee Engagement?

We know engaged employees make for a more successful business. And so, quite rightly, much is made about successful employee engagement. Worryingly a recent ADP Research Institute report, The Global Study on Engagement, found that 84% of people just come to work rather than fully contributing. That means over two thirds of the workforce are there in body but not in mind. If you’re concerned that you could be one of those employers with sleepwalkers on your team how do you make the switch to drive greater engagement and commitment across the business. And let’s be clear, surveys are not going to inspire passion.

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Without wishing to sound like a politician the most sensible place to start is at the beginning, looking at the basics. Businesses need to revisit what employee engagement means to them and to make sure that they are hitting the right note. We should focus on the extent to which employees feel passionate about their work and their commitment to their employer. How many are prepared to ‘go that extra mile’? It is also important to distinguish this from employee satisfaction surveys and scores which simply looks at how happy people are at work at that particular point in time.

How do you get employees engaged?

It isn’t just about asking questions and trying to react to responses, it’s about ensuring that the culture of the organisation supports and enhances the desired messages it communicates to its workforce and actions them in an appropriate manner. All employees, across the organisation, have a role to play in helping others feel involved and passionate about the purpose of the business – not just managers and leaders. However, there are a number of steps these leaders can take to help their employees feel more engaged with the company:

  • Freedom. Let them have the freedom to be themselves. Enable employees to follow their own paths and grow in their role and career. Encourage individuals to use their natural talents rather than being made to follow spoken or unspoken rules and etiquettes that may make them feel constrained.
  • Support them holistically. We are talking physical and emotional wellbeing.  Recognising that we are all human, with our collective strengths and weaknesses, it is our unique traits which make each and every one of us more valuable than ever in this digital age.
  • Empower. Give them the chance to explore and try things out. There are times when managers need to step back and observe rather than micromanage.
  • Let them take responsibility for work and for leading – people like to feel trusted in not only delivering the work, but also for making decisions and making an impact. Let them do what they are good at. There is a chance this is what they enjoy and want to spend their time doing. Look at employee job descriptions, can they be more flexible? Are they needed at all?
  • Shared Purpose. Be clear and transparent about what your organisation stands for, and live and breath this through your culture and values, every day.  Celebrate the behaviours which back this up.
  • This is a two-way street, everyone shares experiences – both the successes and failures. Managers must be open without hidden agendas, which will inspire loyalty and trust. Encourage broad and deep relationships to build a better understanding of each other, our clients, and communities.

Employee engagement isn’t just about relationships, recognition and reward have a role to play as well. However, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all about salaries and bonuses because often it’s more about the less tangible rewards. For example, the idea of work/life balance debate has been around for a long time, and is often cited as a key aspect of employee engagement. More realistically the phrase ‘work/life integration’ is now being used as balance implies a 50/50 split between work and life – which we know isn’t achievable. When we look at this through the prism of integration though we can see the role it has in employee engagement; time has become a commodity.  The ability to work flexible hours that allow time for the school run will make employees more invested in a business.

Are you looking to improve your employee engagement? Talk to us about how we can help you create more passion and commitment in your organisation.

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People Analytics and their Influence on Business

Following last month’s CIPD Data Analytics Conference and Workshop we decided to take a closer look at data analytics and its role in HR. The idea of data analytics in HR is not a new one. It’s about taking a data driven approach to identifying and analysing people related issues. However, over the last few years we have seen it become increasingly important – in fact LinkedIn reported that in North America there has been a three-fold increase in HR professionals adding analytics skills and keywords to their profiles. It is clear that when done well, people analytics can provide organisations with huge amounts of information and reporting abilities that can help revolutionise employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and, ultimately, business success.

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How can we use people analytics to influence business strategy?

As HR professionals we are used to trying to find relevant and insightful data for meetings where we need to persuade people around our points, such as agreement to additional headcount, an investment in the L&D budget or interim remuneration reviews. Finance teams have always had plenty of data and projections at their fingertips but HR hasn’t been in the same position until recently.

Now, with people analytics we are increasingly seeing data being used to answer strategic questions, such as how we identify and predict who the next batch of successful leaders will be, or what the internal mobility routes are that can lead to higher retention? Along with workforce planning issues, diversity and branding we can now talk in facts and statistics rather than having to rely on employee surveys and anecdotal feedback from exit interviews or water cooler conversations. The growth in predictive analytics means that HR can be strategic, guiding organisations so that they’re ahead of issues and are able to work out what they want to address and how.

Changes to the HR team

There are now ways to capture data on talent acquisition, compensation and benefits take up, as well mobility and learning. However, we’ve found that these are often still looked at in HR silos rather than in a holistic way which is really needed if businesses are going to fully leverage the benefits of data analytics. Organisations are set to gather a greater volume and more diverse data over the next few years meaning this sharing of knowledge and joined up thinking will become key to any company’s HR strategy.

This broadening of HR teams isn’t the only change we will be seeing within the HR structure. The introduction of data analytic skills will become the norm with specific teams being introduced to interpret the data.  HR professionals will need to quickly gain these necessary skills. Together these changes will give organisations’ a more holistic view of their people and therefore a more informed strategy which will result in a more tailored offering that really meets employees needs, and therefore business’ as well.

People analytics isn’t the whole answer but it will become a large part of the solution in enabling successful growth and development across your organisation.

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Internal Talent

We previously discussed the need for organisations to build a culture of openness and trust. By encouraging both freedom of thought and creativity across resources will flourish, thus enabling businesses to be successful and grow. With the ever-increasing demands for businesses to change and adapt to global economic circumstances, the focus on both a culture of openness and trust can sometimes become lost. The attention can become misplaced  upon the destination rather than the journey, meaning employees can become unwilling to invest in their skills and try new roles. A study by Deloitte earlier this year found that 76% of C-suite executives rated internal talent mobility as important, while 57% of respondents said it was easier to find a new job outside their current employer than from within.

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Internal markets                                   

The market for talent is always tough and at times of economic uncertainty individuals are less willing to take risks and move on but that doesn’t mean the internal market is easily accessed either. More than ever, organisations need to be agile and responsive to market forces and invest more in internal talent to unlock the talents needed for the business of the future. Indeed, the Deloitte study identified that the fastest growing businesses were twice as likely to have excellent internal mobility strategies compared to those that aren’t growing and three times more likely than organisations who were shrinking.

Personalised success

High performing companies are placing the employee at the centre of their talent strategies and working to build the trust and investment from employees to enable business change. By its very nature a growing business is undergoing change on a constant basis and in organisations with internal talent at the heart of the strategy, the business culture is one of moving forwards together  – with employees at the very heart of the strategy. This is because employees understand where they fit in and the role that they play in the business going forward. They are ready for the change, they understand it and trust it is the right thing to do. Individuals feel their career is important to the whole business with a mutual understanding around progress and investment. There is also an understanding that people change role and move internally on a regular basis as the business and individual needs require.

Clear and flexible opportunities

So, what does a successful internal mobility strategy look like? Firstly, it is clear to employees where roles and development opportunities are available and there are tools within the business enabling the identification of talent. Leaders are open to new internal talent and to people from their teams moving into new roles – it is actively encouraged and celebrated. Multi-directional careers are embraced and encouraged with organisational hierarchies flattening and divisions of business being broken down to ensure mobility across the organisation. Employees are able try new opportunities and invest in their skills in order to deliver the business goals because the culture they operate within is supportive and flexible specifically for them.

Responsive resources

The result of investing in internal talent and creating an internal mobility strategy is having a business that is agile and ready for change, where employees are invested in the business of the future. People know there are opportunities and how to access them meaning that they stay committed and invested in the organisation enabling change to be navigated in the calmer waters of an engaged and knowledgeable workforce, clear on the business goals and committed to success.

Contact us to help you create the internal talent strategy that can take your business to the next level and ensure you keep your employees engaged and invested in delivering for the future.

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Skills Gap Analysis

One of the top three priorities for HR Leaders in 2019, according to Gartner’s survey of 843 HR professionals, is building critical skills and competencies for the future. Although a seemingly straightforward goal, a recent Gartner report identified that 70% of employees say they haven’t mastered the skills to do the job today let alone being equipped for the future. This is further backed by 64% of HR managers suggesting that employees can’t keep pace with the changing needs of the future business.

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Mind the gap

It is obvious that if employees are not equipped with the skills to do the job then the business will struggle to even maintain the status quo let alone move forward and grow. It is easy then to say that identifying the skills gap, developing employees and providing them with the skills is the answer to growth and success. What is harder to work out is how to implement this and empower and upskill members of the organisation wherever they sit within it.

A lack of growth isn’t the only problem, it is likely employees will feel frustrated and disempowered knowing they don’t have the skills they need, leading to a lack of engagement with the organisation. Taken to its natural conclusion the business ends up losing good people and the HR team find themselves with a further skills gap due to recruitment need.

Bridging the gap

In order to tackle the skills gap there are three areas for review and investment – skills identification, learning solutions and employee engagement.
Everyone is familiar with skills gap analysis and the need to identify the skills of the future. Without this crucial strategic HR activity, no organisation can be truly sure that they can confidently implement their strategic plan.

Once these skills have been identified and the gaps uncovered, the need for training and development is obviously the next step. Today, more than ever there are more mediums for delivering training and encouraging learning than ever before, e-learning, app based learning, virtual reality, vlogs and blogs, action learning sets, networks, coaches, mentors…all alongside the traditional class room based training courses. L&D teams are increasingly seeing their role as not simply to push out content they have developed, but to enable employees to access content from a wide range of internal and external sources to create individual learning programmes.

It isn’t just about looking at the skills to deliver the business goals but also looking at who is delivering and supporting the people tasked with job. Sometimes the right skills are there, just not in the right place – perhaps there is a good fit sitting elsewhere in the business waiting for the right opportunity.

Removing silos and creating a development ethos across the business

The need for managers to act as coaches and ensure the right people are in the right place to deliver is pivotal, but these managers need to see beyond their immediate remit and understand the wider business agenda. It is important that all levels of management are clear on the strategy and the plan to get there as well as understand their role in making it happen. Too often managers are so focussed on the day job and getting the most urgent deliverable over the line, they don’t have time to think beyond the immediate and think strategically.

Organisations need to spend time creating a developmental ethos across the business with managers being networked amongst themselves to build knowledge and understanding of key areas of strength and weakness beyond their own remit. This then allows flexibility and agility of resources, potentially saving time and money as well as allowing the business to move forward more quickly.

Building a learning culture

Furthermore, employees need to be able to express their desire to develop their skills and feel able to try new roles which play to their strengths (and develop their weaknesses), even if not within their current business area. In order for this freedom of thought and creativity with resources to flourish, a culture of openness and trust is key. People must feel their career is of importance within the business and be able to see a clear link between their personal success and that of the wider business. Without this, individuals will be less willing to invest in their development and push out of their comfort zone to deliver what is needed for the business of the future.

While many organisations are struggling to adapt to these challenges, high-performing companies are seizing the opportunity to promote a new culture of learning, upending traditional models and transforming how employees learn. These organisations are adopting new mind-sets, fundamentally rethinking what “learning” and “development” mean in the context of their business. They place the employee at the center of a new architecture and new vision that treats learning as a continuous process, not an episodic event, and as a company-wide responsibility, not one confined to HR.

Contact us to help you analyse your skills gap and work with you to organise your business, helping you unlock a culture of engagement and learning to ensure success and keep the organisation ahead of the competition.

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Strategic Importance of Leadership

A recent McKinsey report reveals a worrying disconnect between CEOs and HR leader’s overly buoyant beliefs around their talent and people development strategies compared to other leaders within their organisation. While 64% of both HR leaders and CEOs said their companies were high adopters of such strategies, only 42% of all other survey respondents agreed with the findings.

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The report suggests that leaders within an organisation are the biggest impediment to implanting successful talent strategies into an organisation by placing a lack of emphasis on their strategic importance. So how do we help organisations address these issues and ensure success in this crucial area?

The need to embed people strategy into your company culture

A closer look at the findings show that organisations are often subconsciously giving out a message that people strategy isn’t important to the business. When thinking about the strategy, the route to success and growth it is easy to assume that the individuals in the leadership team will take care of developing and managing their people as part of their role. In fact, it often takes a back seat to the operational goals and individual tasks (especially when individuals are focussed on getting the job done). One third of non-CEOs agreed with the statement that ‘Our leadership doesn’t value talent best people practice’ seemingly underlying the need for people strategies to not only be talked about but also ‘lived’ amongst all levels of leaders in the business.

Investing time now for the future

McKinsey’s own analysis highlighted ‘short-termism’ affecting talent strategy, talent development and recruitment. Because of this, businesses may wake up one morning and find there is a lack of diversity, or key skills within their organisation; or that their people are demotivated and dis-engaged.  In the long term this will impact both operational efficiency and profitability.  It is only with a longer-term commitment to investing in talent, will organisations be able to grow and develop with sustained success. Leaders need to accept that they need to listen to, and involve their people at all levels; even if what they hear surprises them.

Making People Strategy come alive

People strategy needs to be a thread that runs through the entire business, not just something that appears on strap lines and mission statements. Here’s our top tips for making your people strategy come alive:

  • Align your people and talent strategies with your business strategy, ensuring clear, visible linkages so that your people can see why it matters and how it makes a difference
  • Embed the people strategy into clear goals of all leaders and managers, across the organisation
  • Make sure there is a continuous, cognitive drive to implement great talent development and management approaches through communications, your performance management approaches and even in day to day meetings
  • Reward and recognise people for doing the right things in the right way, which align to your people strategy. Celebrate success openly
  • Invest in your people, not just for today, but for tomorrow
  • Involve and trust your people – to get the best out of them.

As the CBI and McKinsey report ‘Good Job’ highlights if companies moved up just one decile in people performance compared to their peers the resulting boost in labour productivity would be £110 billion. Surely a number worth thinking about?

Contact us to find out how we can help you align your people strategy to your Business strategy and activate the talent within your business to help you achieve your business goals.

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Change is Inevitable. Change is Constant.

In the words of Benjamin Disraeli, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Whether it’s new political leaders with new (and sometimes varying) agendas. Volatile and ever-changing global relationships directing our economy’s course. Or the need to be more agile than ever in an increasingly knowledge rich, digitally savvy world, there are many challenges ahead, some anticipated and some not, but today’s business leaders will need to navigate them, come what may.

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So how do leaders make sure they bring their people on the journey with them?

Communication, communication, communication

Listen, and then listen some more. Feedback from all levels is key, not only because leaders need to know how the change is going but also because they need to know how the change is feeling. Establishing feedback groups and loops across the company can help people feel involved and engaged. If they feel part of the change and have input into it (both strategically and in execution), they are more likely to invest in the change and work to make it happen. No path to change is ever straightforward and new challenges and questions will come up along the way, today’s business leaders need to make sure those opportunities aren’t missed. However, it isn’t just about listening, it is also about acting, adjusting and then listening again.

Be clear on the ‘big why’

This seems obvious and is something organisations will have at the core of their business strategy. The senior leadership team should know (and agree) why they want to make the change,  and what outcomes they are aiming for. It can be easy to forget that some people may not share that in-depth insight and may even have their own views on what and how, let alone why changes need to be made.

Build trust

Share the strategy and share the execution plan. Enable people to try things out and have their backs. Empower people by allowing them to take risks and feel that they have permission to make mistakes. Knowing that they’re being listened to and that they’re trusted is a reward in itself. Incentives don’t always need to be financial – a thank you goes a long way.

Invest in and reward individuals

There will be people who by their very nature embrace change whole heartedly, these people can be identified and recruited to act as change agents within the business with relative ease. However, different parts of the business (and the people within them) will experience the change in different ways.  It is important to acknowledge and recognise this, providing positive reinforcement of desired behaviours and addressing concerns early. It is also essential that any change proposal isn’t seen as a wholly top down initiative. Having a voice of peers who understand the grass roots can be a powerful tool.

Keep change in the spot light

After a while, the change project can feel like something that happens only when there is time outside of the day job. Updates and check-ins help keep the change project at the top of the agenda.  It allows people to reflect and ensures that they are reminded of what they are doing, and why they are doing it.

How often have we seen a big launch campaign that comes in with a bang and sells the ideas and concepts, outlining the plan, only to hear nothing more until new people, processes and goals are introduced? If a change programme is to be successful there must be continuous discussion of the big why, reminding people why they are going through the change and selling the benefits to them as individuals, and for the business as a whole.

Do you need a resource and talent strategy for your change programme? Then contact us

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