HR – Saviour of the business

As we approach the ‘Autumn of Uncertainty’ and more recognise it will be people, representing the last bastion of competitive advantage, that will navigate organisations through what lies ahead, HR has never been more critical to the success of business.

In my opinion, HR owns the following:

Optimum Employment Ecosystem and Culture

Ensuring the right diversity, environments, conditions, treatments, behaviours and values exist to act as an attractor of the world’s best talent, the incubator of leading practice to enable everyone to achieve and thrive, and the reasons why people want to stay and commit their energy to the cause for the long term.

Organisation Design

Structuring optimal target operating model’s including; group centres, regions, divisions, departments and teams. Engineering the best people to be in the right places to allow the successful flow of strategy from leadership, through expert management, who in turn disseminate to the workforce to execute effectively.

Recruitment

Strategic demand planning fuels the attraction strategy, including; employer brand, EVP, career centre and applicant traffic drivers. The attraction strategy informs the recruitment delivery model, recruitment process, selection strategy and onboarding process, which naturally ensures the delivery of optimum candidate, hiring manager and recruiter experiences. In essence a guardian of the reputation of the business, on a par with the corporate reputation.

Employee Experience, Engagement and Wellbeing

Making sure what was sold to people to encourage them to join becomes reality and that everyone’s joining and ongoing experiences are excellent ones to generate maximum performance. Managing those situations where it doesn’t quite go to plan effectively and providing the communication and support everyone needs to remain informed, engaged, productive and well.

Talent

Teaching, equipping, developing and encouraging everyone at every level to become the best they can be, and access opportunities to move around the business to retain and share experience, knowledge and value.

Reward

Ensuring reward is commensurate with effort and opportunity which attracts, optimises, motivates and retains the very best.

People Technology

Underpinning everything with the right level of automation to achieve optimum and standardised processes, all stakeholder (leader, manager and employee) self-service and seamless and continual measurement and reporting. Ongoing focus on systems evolution to future proof the function and business. An integral actor in converging HR, ERP and Operational technologies to achieve business level straight through processing.

At times of uncertainty and challenge, leaders draw on the strengths and value each business function can provide.

This is when I believe HR truly becomes the saviour of the business, as it optimises every function via its people.

Have we got Diversity wrong? Time for a rethink? Time for a rebrand?

After 16 months championing people with mental difference, launching a unique online diagnostic that uses psychometrics to validate how diverse groups feel and cope at work, hundreds of amazing conversations and conferences, and two general conferences last week alone that turned out to major on diversity, it’s time for me to get something off my chest!

Some of the leading campaigners and thought leaders on diversity, and some media I might add, have confirmed recently that we are just not moving the needle far enough on diversity!

But I believe we might be doing a little better than most people think but they just don’t know it! I also think with a slightly alternative and consolidated view people will recognise this, and the UK will have an opportunity to push on and lead the field.

I started to doubt we had diversity 100% correct a few years back when I was on an all-white male seminar panel and someone called it out on social media. Yes, it didn’t look diverse, but one of the panellists was an OAP, one was gay and one had a mental illness. So it was in fact, in my opinion, totally diverse. I’m tempted to say hidden diversity!

Recently, there has been a lot reported about all female shortlists and quotas, and this was raised on Wednesday at a roundtable event. Very positive feedback from everyone, including me, however, I did suggest this had risks because it could be seen and experienced as being exclusive by others, especially white middle aged males with a physical disability / mental health condition or another protective characteristic. Again, in my opinion, they represent diverse groups but just happen to also represent one of the groups at the centre of the inequality debate.

So is the problem people not understanding what diversity means, or how diverse their workforces actually are?

Is the problem too much silo focus on specific diversity group activity, potentially to the level that they compete for recognition and action from the exact same enablers of change, therefore leading to an inconsistent and weighted outcome?

I think it’s a combination of all, and the solution is to drastically simplify the subject and approach to raising awareness and championing difference!

And that word is the key in my opinion….. DIFFERENCE!

We need to simply accept that everyone is different, and it’s these differences that bring alternative ways of achieving things, lived in experience and better outcomes. These differences, and associated experience and skill sets, qualities and capabilities, need to be understood, embraced, celebrated, supported (sometimes with reasonable adjustments) harnessed and valued!

Simultaneously we need to encourage people to surface and celebrate their difference. If we can achieve both, we will have the optimum data set to match roles to the very best people based on their experience and skill set, qualities and capabilities.

Finally we need to accept that we are a product of our upbringing, relationships, life, experience, education etc. and all forms of bias are going to exist. Knowing this and tackling it in a positive and ‘in the moment way’ will reduce bias in the recruitment and employment process / experience.

So where do we start. I’ve seen a number of ‘head of diversity and inclusion’ roles advertised recently and a good start would be to rename these ‘head of difference’, with the brief to encourage people to surface and celebrate their difference, and business to provide knowledge, learning and case studies surrounding how different differences bring brilliance and optimal outcomes, plus take every step possible to educate the workforce about bias and how it’s a ‘barrier for best’.

Simultaneously businesses needs to accurately benchmark difference across their workforces, across all levels, to identify areas of critical focus. This is where anonymous surveying surrounding the categories of difference people fall into, plus how they feel and cope at work will provide the data to inform the optimum ‘difference strategy’.

Some will notice I used the word anonymous when I previously I suggested we needed more to celebrate their difference. Not everyone will do so initially, but in time I hope they will.

Society naturally needs to mirror this through parenting, community groups, Government and the education system etc. but that is the subject of another article!

I’m not suggesting this is going to be easy but we need to pull together and support a simplified collective cause which will be easier to consume, adopt and practice.

I would welcome your views.

Colin.

You could lose the 4th Industrial Revolution opportunity

Lord Holmes spoke eloquently on Wednesday at Tipping Point about the opportunity the 4th Industrial Revolution represents to British business.

But some of you are going to miss it because many businesses are working harder to take your talent, than you are working to keep it!

Humans are programmed to survive, so no matter how much AI, machine learning, robotics and everything else making the headlines affects people and business; humans will innovate, find a way, and progress. The one constant that will determine whether your business thrives or dives, is your people!

Therefore, you absolutely must keep your critical employees, and add to them, to take advantage of today’s ever evolving world of work! You also must embrace diversity to ensure you have the full range of perspectives, experience and differences in thinking, to exploit the pace of change, innovation and automation.

The world is awash with examples of recruiting excellence with the most advanced employer brand, attraction, selection and onboarding strategies, all designed to take your best people away from you!

And some companies are truly diverse which means they bake difference into every challenge and solution, which will naturally attract people with the brilliance their difference gives them.

These coincide with practices in other businesses that play into the hands of talent competitors, namely, restricting earnings, heaping on pressure, poor communication and treatment, sub-optimal supervision and management, inequality, poor working conditions and no consistent purpose and cause. Basically a sub-optimal employment ecosystem.

There are three types of businesses:

  1. Those that say people are their most important asset but don’t treat them as such.
  2. Those that say people are their most important asset, want to treat them all as such, but due to a lack of consistent governance, they don’t achieve it.
  3. Those that say people are their most important asset, and treat everyone as such.

You should know which type of business you are and which type of business you want to be.

You should know if you have an optimal resourcing strategy.

You should know if you have an optimal approach to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

You should know if you have created the perfect employment ecosystem aligned to achieving the business plan and retaining your critical talent.

If you score positively in each of the above you will thrive and capitalise from the 4th Industrial Revolution.

If you have any doubt whatsoever, please contact me, for an open and honest conversation and appraisal.

It would be a delight to support you to seize the opportunity the 4th Industrial Revolution brings.

Colin.

Fix your employment ecosystem and the very best people will flock to you!

Great people leave organisations because (in no particular order);

  • they don’t feel valued,
  • the commute and business travel requirements impact too heavily on life,
  • they don’t like/respect their boss,
  • working demands, conditions and environments are poor,
  • the business lacks purpose and cause,
  • treatment and behaviours are unacceptable.

So fix all of this (your employment ecosystem) and you will fix your retention and productivity issues, and I’ll come on to why you will also fix any attraction issues in a bit! Easy huh! No, not easy at all because many of the processes and tools you can use to identify where these issues exist and in what doses, in order to apply corrective action, are traditionally subjective!

Answer me this! If you were working in an organisation going through major change or overhead reduction, or you felt you were being treated unfairly, plus you have a young family, meaty financial commitments, global travel aspirations, in fact whatever required you to have employment stability and continuity right now; would you tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth when questioned. Some will, but I would argue some won’t…… just in case it comes back on them!

So you may not get a true and consistent picture, and those that really need support and intervention might just be the ones that won’t offer up exactly how they feel or what’s not working well internally. You may be in a situation where people just accept what is making them unhappy and carry on less engaged and less productive.

Then think about this. If you could surface the real reasons why people are either leaving or unproductive, and were able to use this to create an optimal level of engagement via an optimal employment ecosystem, the word will get out!

People will tell people how great it is to work at your company, and you will be able to authentically tell them too!

What do I mean? Basically, by fixing your employment ecosystem you will generate some amazing;

  • employer brand messaging,
  • EVP components,
  • ratings on Glassdoor and Indeed,
  • positive brand virility across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • brand advocates recommending brilliant people to work for you.

All things that are the cornerstone of an optimal attraction strategy. You fix the employment ecosystem, you optimise retention and attraction at the same time!

It doesn’t work the other way around I’m afraid. Upgrading your resourcing strategy to pile people through the front door to a suboptimal employment ecosystem, then hoping they stay and are productive, wastes valuable time, resource and investment

After 20 years in senior resourcing and HR positions, the last two immersed in the psychology of people and retention, I am ideally positioned to provide trusted advice and innovative solutions that go well beyond what has been traditionally available.

Speak soon, I hope.

Colin.

Diversity – It’s not a Gender Agenda!

She hopefully won’t mind me saying this but I took my initial learning and inspiration for focusing on diversity and inclusivity throughout my resourcing career from the most amazing Group Head of Diversity, Theresa White of G4S.

Diversity was an automatic element of everything that G4S did whilst I was there, and I remember clearly a leadership diversity focused meeting at Group where Theresa made us all feel comfortable to say whatever came into our heads, as there was some apprehension from us newbies to the subject surrounding inadvertently saying the wrong thing during conversation.

To open our minds to the full diversity experience Theresa instilled in us the notion that ‘Diversity is not a gender agenda’ and that all difference was good and should be celebrated and incorporated at all times.

I was reminded of this during a Facebook conversation this week with some industry chums as I played back an experience I had when I was on an external panel discussion and afterwards someone quipped that the panel wasn’t very diverse.

Yes on the face of things there were three white blokes, who even with the best makeup artist couldn’t look young again, so we fitted the stereotypical pale, stale, male group, however, one was in his seventies, another was gay and I have a mental illness, OCD.

So in reality it was a very diverse panel, but aesthetically, you could understand why we were called out as being the opposite.

A question bounced around my head whilst mowing the lawns this morning and I just had to write it down. So just how diverse are our workforces?

Do we really know what diverse groups our employees enjoy belonging to? Some are quite naturally easy to recognise, but the more private and sensitive, e.g. mental ill health, where many don’t want to disclose, could account for so many more belonging to a diverse group and therefore enriching the real percentage scoring of diversity across the organisation.

And back to the pale, stale, male stereotype. Has anyone else thought that as more and more are comfortable discussing their diverse group membership, especially people with mental ill health (yes I do think this is a diverse group), are people that fall into this category and absolutely no other, ultimately going to fall into a future minority and diverse group that will need to be surrounded by a support and campaign environment, where members are championed for the difference they can still bring to our ultra-diverse world?

Happy Bank Holiday (UK) everyone, and do get in touch if I can support with any of your diverse hiring, or mental health initiatives.

Colin.

When recruiting becomes a complete waste of time, effort and cost!

You’ve got the full support and stakeholdership of the CHRO, AND BEST resourcing leader, strategic workforce planning outcomes, resourcing target operating model, recruitment business partners, researchers, representation at conferences and seminars to share and acquire best practice, employer brand, employee value proposition, talent pools, job descriptions, career site, attraction strategy, digital / social recruiting channel ecosystem, mobile strategy, recruiting CRM, applicant tracking system, recruitment process, hiring manager maturity model, interview strategy, assessment process, offer and screening process, candidate experience, onboarding process, integration with your amazing core HR technology solutions, and everything else your optimum resourcing strategy includes to hire the very best people, which collectively costs you £millions per annum!

But some great people still don’t apply, and some of the people you recruit leave almost immediately, or stay and don’t achieve 100% productivity before leaving! Why?

I gave 100+ talent leaders at Talent Leaders Connect the answer yesterday, when I highlighted that sub-optimal working conditions, environments, relationships and behaviours, created by the existence of unhealthy levels of workplace and workforce stress, can undo all the sensational work they, and their supply chains, are all doing to bring the very best emerging talent to their organisations!


I use the example with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt!

With the right contacts, reasons, message, approach and offer, you could get one, or both, of them to run a race for you.

Ask them to run it on an Olympic grade track, at the optimum altitude, with the latest sports and footwear, in perfect running weather conditions, and they will deliver for you.

Ask them to run through a field, two feet deep in squishy mud, in the pouring rain, in loose welly boots, with a heavy and uncomfortable rucksack on, and they will of course be sub-optimal, or may even decline to attempt it.

Oh, and they will tell their network about the situation, so you’ll never be able to attract an elite athlete into conversation again.

So if your organisation suffers from unhealthy levels of workplace and workforce stress, most of which is employer demand, process and people driven, expect the very best people not to want to join you, not to perform if they do join you, and especially with regard to emerging talent, leave you quite quickly because they can!

I’ve specialised in attracting best people to organisations for 20+ years, and have strengthened and expanded my interest and capability in the last two years to incorporate how best to attract, optimise and retain them, by treating and evolving the business, not the people you have just hired.

It’s now possible to accurately diagnose, remedy and prevent problematic stress in the business, so if you are worried that some of your time, effort and/or budget is being wasted because you are landing people into a sub-optimal workplace, plus you are experiencing productivity, risk and culture challenges, please feel free to contact me.

I can optimise your resourcing investment, ensure the best people stick and demonstrably increase people and business performance.

Colin.

How I would have approached GDPR

I’m fascinated by the GDPR debate, where some are suggesting recruitment and HR functions need to assume full responsibility and become experts, and others are suggesting there’s too much hype surrounding the subject.

So I wanted to share how I would have approached it if I was still the Group Head of Resourcing and HR Systems for the world’s second largest private employer, just in case it supports the conversation.

As soon as I had learned about GDPR legislation I would have walked out of my office, turned right, walked approximately 30 paces into Group Legal, knocked on the door of the Group Legal Counsel responsible for global data protection legislation for the entire organisation, and I would have asked her for her timescales for being able to brief me on what I needed to know and learn about it, and evolve and change across my areas of responsibility.

She would probably then tell me that she was still in the process of assessing the impact and specific risk to the organisation as a whole, which when finished would trigger the production of a bespoke set of aligned guidelines and critical activities for the organisation, backed up by one to one support from Group Legal to help manage any implications and changes across all functions.

I would have then gone back to my team, briefed them, then carried on delivering the things I was ultimately responsible for. Over the following months I would have continued to take my lead from her, the guardian and expert of best practice data protection legislation from within my organisation.

Granted, yes, I would have needed a healthy level of understanding of GDPR, which would have grown over time, driven by Group Legal, but I wouldn’t have needed to be educated and trained to the level of a person with ultimate responsibility, unless of course I had ultimate responsibility.

It’s everyone responsibility to know about GPPR and support the implementation of the correct systems and procedures, but it’s probably just one person’s responsibility to own it, and if that’s not you, then I would leave it to them to guide and educate you!

All the very best.

Colin.

Just realised again that I’ve come a very, very long way!

Just had a realisation moment (again) that I’ve come a very, very long way!

I was given an emergency aisle seat for my flight today, 15A, by the window. When we were up it crossed my mind that if I pulled the emergency exit handle I could create a catastrophic event.

I’ve panicked about this many times before, especially as a kid! Psychiatrists would confirm that most people would have the same thought but it wouldn’t even register! I however got a pang of anxiety as my brain tried to convince me it was a very real and probable situation; an obsession.

Then the compulsion tried to set in! The need to prove to myself I didn’t actually want to do this and to demonstrate I am not a bad person. The urge to play over scenarios in my head to give me some comfort and proof. A symptom of my mental difference and something historically I have spent hours, if not days, ruminating about.

This all happened in a matter of micro seconds and Guess what? I just laughed it off, I recognised it was just my human difference kicking in and it wasn’t something I needed to engage in. I kicked it into touch and just carried on with what I was doing, which was proof reading a business plan. I didn’t need to move from my seat as a ‘just in case’, which I would have wanted to do many years ago.

I thought to myself (again); blimey I’ve come along way! So here it is, real-time proof that you can control mental challenges and play the cause at its own game. In my case targeting my rational brain to combat my irrational brain and win.

I personally believe this is a very powerful skill I have developed, which is why I am great in a business related crisis situation. A technology hack or contract going south is a walk in the park compared to the things an OCD brain gets one thinking about and trying to solve.

My mental difference is my USP! Thank you OCD!

Pah, ‘normal’ is so last week!

The definition of ‘normal’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is – Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:

In the Cambridge English Dictionary it’s – Ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected:

So what are we really saying here; ‘samey’ perhaps!

And come on, there really is no such thing as normal! We are all have human, and everyone has human issues and challenges…..

And I don’t know if you agree (perhaps you will comment later) but don’t we get taught the importance of being different at various stages in our lives? In fact aren’t we encouraged to be different from a young age?

For example, when I started my career in sales I was exposed to the phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ (USP). The Wikipedia definition of USP is – A factor that a business has that makes it different and or better than others out there:

Another example would be the advice we give to people writing or updating their CV! You know nougats of insight like; what makes you stand out from the rest, what difference do you bring to the party, how do you do things differently to achieve better outcomes?

For all the X Factor fans out there, the judges, and money makers behind the scenes, are looking for the next big thing or things, different or better than what’s already out there.

Finally, in sports, there is a continued drive to improve performance and outcomes by doing things differently! Different fitness and eating regimes, different innovations in equipment, different mental approaches!

I’m sorry, but surely this shows that being different is critical, and difference, is the difference between achieving improved outcomes, or the same old same old, the usual, the ‘to be expected’!

I was on the panel session at the brilliant @RoffeyPark Institute’s 70th anniversary forum on wellbeing event last week, chaired by the exceptional @SimonFanshawe OBE, and I spoke openly about achieving as a consequence of my mental difference. As the discussion progressed I talked about businesses needing to focus on skills and capability alone, and that there is no need for labelling based on difference if viewed through the right lens!

Companies have business plans designed to achieve their purpose and satisfy their stakeholders. HR then has the people plan to achieve the people element of the business plan. Finally, resourcing has the resourcing plan, to support the achievement of the people plan.

This resourcing plan and the people plan invariably hold the blueprint of the skills and capabilities needed throughout the end to end workforce to achieve the business plan. It will not and should not go into any granularity about what that workforce should look and sound like, nor include anything personal.

So breaking it down to this level of simplicity, businesses should easily be able to articulate what skills and capabilities are needed and then do the harder bit which is to go out and get these. Race, gender, sexuality, age, health etc. just don’t come into it.

Right, we need a skill and/or capability! Do you possess it to the level we need? Yes, then you make the shortlist. Simple simple stuff.

And going back to my opening, surely the people you ideally want to acquire these skills and capabilities from are predominantly those that can provide it differently and better than others, e.g. leveraging their difference!

I think I might be part of the problem in due course by championing a diversity label, namely mental health, or hidden disability. I don’t think it will be too long, at least I hope it won’t be too long, until I simply talk about having a human difference, instead of a mental one.

My mental; oops sorry, human difference has helped me bring innovation and value to all of my previous employers, and more recently clients, who have all been delighted. I’m therefore happy that I’m not normal because it’s so last week and my difference is my competitive advantage, my USP.

What’s yours?

Resilience – That’s twice now!!!

My wonderful recent meeting with Charles Walker OBE MP at Parliament, has just converged with my speaking and chairing engagement at Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary event tomorrow, where I will give the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model a great airing.

Charles said he loved the model and that it should evolve further and incorporate resilience as a follow up! Roffey Park Institute, one of the world’s renowned leadership institutes, has produced the Resilience Capability Index (RCI) – http://www.roffeypark.com/resilience-capability-index. That’s twice now!

The world is changing faster than ever and I personally think we have crossed the rubicon where change in general happens faster than our ability to adapt. Think about the political changes in the world lately. Relatively overnight, we have seen demonstrable change in the UK and USA political landscape, with what looks like more examples to follow (eek).

Then look at our reaction to it. It’s one of 50% resistance and a lack of desire to accept it and adapt. It’s also one of 50% anger and demonstration. You still see examples of this every day across traditional and social media. The debate rages on!

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong, but I predict before mainstream acceptance has happened to these seismic events (whatever that looks like) something massive and related would have changed again. The pace of change in life is just too fast. Look at tech as well! No sooner have you bought something, version (OMG my version is now old) 2 comes along! We just gotta accept more and more change because you blink and you miss the next one.

The continued and seemingly elevating outcry following change, and compulsion to get involved in the debate (quietly points the finger at social media here) by many is a huge source of distraction and potentially stress. That’s not good for personal or professional lives or human and business productivity!

So my point is this. If events like ‘Brump’, that’s Brexit and Trump combined, were accepted quicker by those/us that voted against them, would they/we be less distracted, less compelled to argue against it and less stressed.

In my own world I say yes. My immediate reaction to my initial reaction to these things, to keep my stress levels in check, is to try to accept things as quickly as possible and move on. Not easy but it’s something I am now conditioned to do because the alternative feeds my illness. Does that then make me more resilient than others? If so another positive for having OCD!

Finally, resilience must therefore be a state of mind; well for me it is. I consciously practice resilience as one of my remedies, along with exercise, distraction, CBT, not drinking alcohol (that’s a lie sorry) and by living as healthily as possible. You can apply a reaction to a reaction, and if its a positive to counter a negative, e.g. being resilient, eventually it becomes habitual. Arguably a good habit to acquire! I have a few.

All the best.

Colin – +44 (0)7887 480142 – colin.minto@bigideatalent.com – Join the Mental Health in Business Group