Insider story – how to tackle a HR transformation project

Wondering how you’re going to tackle that next big transformation project as well as keeping your sanity intact? Wonder no more, in this blog we talked to Peter Cablis from HR consulting firm Evolving HR about managing a large, complex HR transformation project for Jaguar Land Rover. Peter talks about what was involved in the project and shares his key lessons learnt.

Embarking on a mission critical HR transformation project? Keep your cool with these key insights from Peter Cablis, from Jaguar Land Rover.

“The modern world is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous and organisations have had to become like rapid-reaction forces, needing to respond quickly, flex and adapt to suit an ever-changing world. HR professionals have needed to adapt too and have been required to manage multiple change programmes over their careers.

No doubt many of you have learned valuable lessons during the change programmes, but how many of you wished you had gone into the experience armed with the wisdom you were set to gain after the project?

While we can’t send you into the future, we can at least give you some insight into the wisdom we gained from a recent large scale, complex transformation programme involving:

  • Multiple business areas and sites
  • The introduction of new technology & major office refurbishment
  • Ordering and trialling of new equipment
  • The transition of new people into a department and their training
  • A major cultural shift for how HR transacts with the business and how business needs to operate
  • Limited budget and finite time for implementation
  • A culture of low accountability and silo’s

Despite these challenges, the project delivered, on time, to budget and was exactly what the customer wanted. So what were the secrets to this successful programme and what can be learned for future HR change programmes? We share a few of the key insights below (this is not an exhaustive list but serves as a guide):

1. Clearly scope out the project. Have clear timelines, measurements and milestones for each activity and phase of the project.

2. Know the skills and experience you need on the project and select the right people. Ensure they are fully dedicated and clear about their role in delivering the project.

3. Be clear who the key stakeholders are and engage with them right at the start.

4. Ensure everyone on the project is clear on their roles and what they are accountable for.

5. Set up a clear project governance board, with the right operational people from the project and the right key stakeholders. Review weekly/daily each part of the project as it proceeds. Make sure there is a ‘Risk, Actions, Issues and Dependencies’ log. Just as importantly, ensure all members of the project team are kept informed of changes and impacts to the overall project and their areas. Consult regularly with them and don’t be reluctant to refine the project plan if required.

6. Chunk the project down into its component parts, so that it becomes manageable and if required have distinct work streams.

7. Always ‘check in’ with the end users/people most likely to be affected by the change, to see if you have missed anything in the project.

8. Have a clear communication and feedback work stream. Consider how the change may affect the end users and adapt both your style of communication and the method of communication accordingly. Use multiple mediums to reach out to these people, including workshops, feedback groups, presentations, regular bulletins and blogs and intranet. Keep the flow of communication going throughout the project.

Thank you to Peter for sharing his knowledge and if you would like to know how to keep your cool and perhaps your sanity during a big-ticket, high-pressure, HR transformation project please contact Peter at EvolvingHR on info@evolvinghr.co.uk.

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

How do you get the most out of networking?

Tips for networking

Networking is something that gets talked about a lot in the market. Many HR professionals know they should network to further their careers but always find an excuse to shy away from it and often say they have never really benefited from it.

Others have openly admitted that they either lack confidence in large groups of strangers, have never attended a good networking event or just see if as a pointless task that takes up too much time.  At a recent event, someone said to me that they found networking difficult because from an early age, ‘they were taught that they shouldn’t speak to strangers!’.

I’ve attended many networking events over the years, some were really good and some, well, could have been better.  I must admit in my early days, networking meant pointless conversations with people that were only interested in selling to me.  I often left these events feeling a little unaccomplished, wondering why I had bothered going.

My perception has changed over the years and what I have learnt is that networking is actually a really useful and effective business tool – when used in the right way.

 

Networking effectively

We all know that networking is fundamental to good business but how can you take the pain out of it and make it work more effectively as a business tool for you?

1 ) Re-frame the situation

If you get put off by the word networking, then call it something else! After all, it’s merely a tool to meet new people. Networking has moved on a lot in recent years and is no longer just about attending a formal event, vying for attention, exchanging business cards and selling, selling, selling.

It has evolved to be more about providing the opportunity to meet new and passionate people. So, for me, it can be something as simple as going to see someone in another department instead of sending them an email or meeting someone for a coffee instead of the usual conference call.   It doesn’t have to be formal.

2) Confidence

Lots of people say that confidence is a major deterrent to networking and can often mean that they are stuck for conversation.  If you’re attending an event it’s natural to feel a little nervous, but you can turn nervous energy into a positive. Just remember these key things:

Relax and be yourself; you’re networking because you chose to, and everyone is probably feeling the same, so relax and remember networking is merely a tool for meeting new people.

Be prepared; do your research, take a look at the delegate list and see if there is anyone you’re keen to talk to. One way to start a conversation is through a shared connection, so research what they’re interested in and their experiences/background.

3) Set an objective

Why are you attending the event? What do you want to get out of it?

Admittedly many people only network so that they can sell and, while this may be your end goal, remember no one wants to be sold to at a networking event, this has happened to me numerous times and I was very much put off.

The real benefit of networking lies with the relationships that can be forged as a result. Remember relationships are developed over many months and years, so follow up is key.

Also, always remember the golden rule…give before you receive. Ask yourself how can you help that person and add value before you ask for anything.

4) Conversation

Networking events can be full of outgoing, confident people that love to talk, so use it to your advantage and ask open ended questions. This way people will tell you all about what they do, what they are there for and what they are looking to get out of the event. I don’t mean that you only ask one question then listen to someone waffle on forever, it’s more of an introduction to get the conversation flowing.

A good friend of mine once told me that you need a story to engage with people, a great piece of advice that has stuck with me ever since.

Think about why you are there, what’s currently happening in your market and your thoughts on it. But the most important thing is to make eye contact and smile, no one wants to speak to a miserable stranger.

Don’t forget the basics: (it’s not cool to be fashionably late!)

  • Be sure you know where you’re going and plan your journey, there’s nothing worse than turning up stressed out because you got lost on the way there.
  • Turn your phone off, concentrate on the people around you, that’s the reason you’re there after all.
  • Try not to plan anything straight after the event. This way you are free to leave whenever you want and you won’t feel under pressure.
  • Finally, make sure you follow up with anybody that you met with. If you had a good conversation with someone suggest you meet for a coffee to keep the relationship fresh.

This is not an exhaustive list, merely tips and tricks that work for me. Over time you’ll find what works for you, but hopefully, you’ll be able to adopt some of my tips to work to your advantage and get you started.

If there is one thing I have learnt from networking, it’s that it’s all about building relationships – give and enrich the experience people have with you and this will go a long way.

 

To have a chat – or if you are passing through Birmingham and want to meet for a coffee you can contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professional’s specialist here.

 

 

Insider Story – Resourcing Transformation at Gowling WLG

For August’s instalment of Insider’s Story, I met up with not only one of my favourite HR professionals, but one of my favourite people in general, to talk about ‘resourcing transformation’.

The wonderful Jo Franklin, Head of Resourcing for Gowling WLG, agreed to sit down with me and have a chat about the huge ‘resourcing transformation’ journey they have been on.

She explains how they have transformed their resourcing strategy and well and truly stepped out of the ‘Wragge & Co shadow’.

Gowling WLG has been on quite a ride over the past few years…

What was once Wragge & Co, then Wragge, Lawrence Graham & Co, (before joining forces with top Canadian law firm Gowlings) and finally Gowling WLG was born.

Jo joined the business post-merger in the early part of 2016. They had gone from being in the Top 25 to overnight becoming a part of a major international law firm. As a result of this, their resourcing and talent strategies needed some serious development and she was in responsible for resourcing transformation.

“ It was a testing period”, Jo admits “as I joined, three of my most experienced team members were going on maternity leave. All of that knowledge and experience leaving at a time of considerable change!”

The Transformation

The vision was clear; to make Gowling WLG a recognised brand in the marketplace, to compete against the top law firms and to secure the best talent across lateral, business services and early talent.

The perception that the resourcing team was very much an administrative support function was something that Jo wanted to change. As around 60% of the team’s time had been spent on recruitment admin, they wanted to adopt a business partnering approach and get more stakeholder facetime.

Jo says, “We wanted to have a position in the market where we could source directly, because of our reputation.”

To put this into perspective in the legal sector, agency hire rates sits at around 60-70%. Jo had set herself a target of direct sourcing at 60%.

In order to achieve this, the team needed to look at a number of things including Employer Brand, EVP and Internal Engagement.

How did you do it?

One of the key pieces to landing any big transformation is to engage with your people and to take them along on the journey. They wanted to focus on their people, rather than the work they do.

Gowling decided to undertake 360-degree feedback to determine their true employer values.

This consisted of 12 workshops with people across the brand, from trainee to partner level. It also involved leadership interviews and market research to understand what made working at Gowling WLG different and unique.

From this developed an employer value proposition (EVP)framework upon which the new careers site would be based.

Headed up by the team members returning from maternity leave, they employed the service of two specialist agencies to convert their EVP into attraction messaging and built their careers site around this.

In order to meet their own challenging direct sourcing targets (60% of all offers), their social media and direct hiring activity needed to be supported by a creative, informative and content-rich careers website.

This is Gowling WLG’s first full careers site. For several years, the firm has had an early talent website, but the offering for fee earners and business service professionals was limited, and the team was keen to promote their new enhanced apprenticeship programme. Now they have detailed information on the firm, its culture and all the different job families in one place, which is presented in a creative and engaging way.

‘You can’t just tell people what your values are’

A common mistake that many organisations make is just announcing what their Values and EVP are, rather than engaging with people, which can alienate people and leave them feeling unsure of their identity.

Rather than just announcing firm values, it is far more effective to live and breathe them, and they slowly infiltrate into the business as usual.”

There must be a mindset change for any transformation to be implemented successfully.

Jo and her team did this through empowering the people around them.. Rather than focussing on what was wrong with the current approach, they demonstrated how great things really could be by sharing knowledge and helping people to understand that there are other ways of attracting great candidates…

Jo says, “Don’t tell people, let them experience it”

Developing a ‘Dream Team’

Jo recognised that in order to truly provide a value-add service to the business, developing her team’s offering was key.

At the time of joining, their agency spend was substantial…

Due to previously having a limited view of forthcoming requirements, the firm had become used to a reactive approach to recruitment and this was going to be a huge change for them.

Proving the model worked and providing tangible results in the first few months was vital, both in the quality of candidates introduced and time to hire.

One of the key hires to the team was Chris Lake, who had an exceptional track record in direct resourcing, having worked for a legal agency for 6 years prior to joining Gowling WLG.

Jo empowered the team to start taking a more forward-thinking approach. They began to identify and map the key markets within the firm’s key sector areas, understanding the active candidate market but more importantly building a picture of passive candidates that could be developed into a talent audience for the future.

The resourcing advisors started to build trust with key stakeholders and taking time to understand their business objectives and working with managers to plan for skills gaps and provide competitor insight and analysis to build credibility.

‘This wasn’t an original solution’

Now Jo, whilst undeniably fantastic, isn’t a part of some kind of secret recruitment magic circle!

The direct sourcing model isn’t an original solution, however, it’s usage within the legal sector is limited within the Top 100 law firms. In addition to this, varied results and methods are evident across the sector – i.e. direct sourcing limited to business services/non-fee earner roles or paralegal level recruitment in some firms.

What is clear, however, is that Jo has opened her stakeholders’ eyes to ‘what could be’ if they trusted in her and her team.

By really engaging with your people, being armed with knowledge and taking a genuine interest in your stakeholders, you can build fantastic relationships.

This doesn’t necessarily happen over-night. Jo herself will admit it has been in huge part down to her teams’ sheer persistence, determination and energy to truly add value that this transformation has been such a huge success

Where are they now?

12 months after Jo and Chris joined the business, Gowling WLG had succeeded in reducing its cost per hire by 41%. The time to hire for the new direct talent strategy 30% lower than for previous hires through recruitment agencies.

The success has continued with the team meeting their direct hire targets year on year, producing real and credible savings on agency spend, whilst still focusing time on building relationships with their key agencies to help with niche roles. By April 2018, they had exceeded their initial 60% goal.

The team were also delighted to receive a prestigious HR in Law award in May for their careers site, which they are now extending out to their international offices, the first being Dubai.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jo Franklin for taking part in my Insiders Story series! To find out more about life at Gowling WLG, visit their careers page at: https://gowlingwlg.com/en/careers

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here

What makes a successful HR business partner?

A HR business partner as successful as batman and superman
What makes a successful HR business partner?

HR has seen quite a change over the past few years, thanks to the introduction of new technologies and changing cultural attitudes. So it makes sense that the qualities of a successful HR business partner may have gone through a similar metamorphosis since Ulrich first introduced the concept.

 

These days more focus is needed on how they add value to a company. But you can’t just go from being traditional HR to HR business partner overnight, as a completely different set of attitudes, beliefs and skills are required to pull off this role.

So, what exactly makes a successful HR business partner (HRBP)?

  • A well-rounded knowledge base. As the job description for a HR business manager has become all-encompassing, the knowledge base of a HRBP must be as well. Similar to a typical HR manager, a HRBP should have a sound understanding of the law so that the company they work for understands their legal obligations to their employees. Additionally, a basic understanding of psychology is also beneficial as the role now entails more interaction directly with employees.
  • Business-minded. Originally the key characteristic of a HRBP is that they were someone who understood a company’s financial goals and worked to create solutions for HR-focused issues. This characteristic still remains highly important in a modern day HRBP, as without a clear business focus and understanding, a HRBP is not adding value.
  • People skills. Now that this role involves more interaction with employees, it means that a HRBP needs engaging social skills. There’s no point in having great ideas if you can’t sell them and communicate them effectively. If the right person is in the role, then they will be able to enable employees to feel safe and motivated in their workplace and more open to change.
  • Self-belief. If you don’t believe in the impact that HR can have on a business or your own influencing skills, then why should other people? If a business is going to reach its targets, everyone in that business needs to believe that they can make a difference. And those differences start with HR!

A change in the role of HRBP

There has been a huge change in the role of HRBP’s today compared to the same role a few years ago. HR was previously considered an extra department that was nice to have a security blanket for everyone else. Now, HR is essential, and businesses are missing out if they do not adopt this new approach.

Convincing people that ‘HR business partner’ is more than just the latest buzzword means being able to demonstrate value in your work, and with the correct skills and attitudes, the benefits that you can bring to a business are truly limitless.

There is still plenty of debate around what makes a successful HR business partner

There is plenty of resource to help you form your own opinion:

Hiring commercial HRBP’s can be especially difficult, if you are having issues please contact me to discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk

You can view more about James Cumming our HR, Change and Business Transformation specialist here

HR consultants – how do you beat stress?

HR consultants - how do you beat stress?
Beverly Hills 90210, Fox Broadcasting Company

Ahh, stress. It’s something that unites us all regardless of occupation or lifestyle. For HR consultants, life can be very busy and things happen which totally change your plan for the day.

 

One bad email can be all that it takes to set it off, and then next thing you know you’re awake at 3AM unable to sleep. We can’t always avoid stress, but we can work on improving how we respond to it. The good news here is that just as we have a stress response; we also have useful relaxation responses that we can call to action at any sign of trouble – perfect for all busy HR consultants.

 

Go for a walk

Getting away from your desk and moving around can help clear your head, and thanks to something called ‘involuntary attention’, walking around a green open space can actually put your body into a state of meditation. Meaning that when you return back to work, you’ve been able to reflect on your day and see everything with a fresh pair of eyes.

 

Eat a snack

Stress eating isn’t all bad – it just depends on what you reach for in the fridge! Pick something that will fill you up and not just give you a sugar rush for an hour, as feeling like you’ve run out of nourishment can actually contribute to a feeling of stress. Whilst it’s tempting to reach for Redbull and a Mars Bar, these foods can be counter-productive! Foods great for concentration include avocados, nuts, complex carbs such as brown rice and sweet potato and dark chocolate are great options

 

Put a record on

Or a Spotify playlist, depending on what’s available to you in your office. Classical music may seem like the most obvious option for destressing, however, any music that you love will have the same effect and flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals. My personal favourites are Kisstory or an 80’s playlist.

 

Chew some gum

Not only does this ensure minty-fresh breath, but studies have also shown that chewing gum can actually relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress when multitasking – a win-win for anyone that loves gum as much as I do.

 

Have a nap

Another technique that is popular with companies such as Google and Nike is the power nap. Research has shown that when people are able to take a power nap at work, they encounter fewer feelings of stress, have better cognitive response rates and improved memory.

 

As a HR consultant, do you have any tips on how to relieve stress? Let me know in the comments below.

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Ten tips for transformation go-live success

Business transformation success

In this installment of In:site we speak to Simon Brown.

Simon is a veteran of six end-to-end Transformation and Shared Services Programmes (since 1996). Simon often gets asked: what works best, what advice would you give?

There is no single “cut and paste” solution since each company has its own culture, its own spend budget and change readiness agility. There are certainly some common factors if applied with the correct level of dedication and follow-through, which can make a great difference to the speed of implementation and effectiveness of your transformation.

However, Go-Live is that high profile moment when you turn all the thinking, planning, blood, sweat and tears of knowledge transfer, including the processes which you lift and shift or lift and transform, into a new operational model. A model which the customers can see, feel, touch and truly experience. It’s similar to opening a store or restaurant and suddenly your customers are ready to consume your products and services and give you feedback on what they did or didn’t like.

So here are my 10 top tips for Transformation Go-Live Success:

1. Begin with the end in mind

Establish a visual blueprint of your future organisation, your Target Operating Model. Be clear on the deliverables and desired outcomes. As well as the measures of success in terms of operational effectiveness, customer satisfaction and cost efficiency. Define and agree these upfront with your key stakeholders. Plan ahead and get answers to these points before you get sucked into the doing mode.

2. Create a compelling vision to move forward

By working together on the design team and actually articulating the vision by physically drawing a tableau to describe your future state, you are creating something which you can show and share with others to get them involved and engaged. A picture is worth a thousand words: it draws people in, starts a conversation, creates meaning and a dialogue for change. Hopefully, it also provokes a response and creates an emotional reaction. So to gain momentum to move forward we need to create a compelling vision, a good story, something to believe in, to follow and to become part of.

3. Engage your key stakeholders early and enlist business “change champions”
Before you start to implement your new ways of working, be sure to get real supporters from the business on your side. Change champions are leaders and role models. They are well respected by other managers and thus engender + enable peer and cascade credibility to the transformation story. Identify and enlist “change champions” who can talk positively about the benefits of self-service, portal and system technology. This will allow HR business partners to actually spend more time supporting the business agenda and less time as a pair of hands on administration.

4. Align Systems with Processes
Generally, alignment is the key word. Alignment of activities, sub-projects and work-streams are key to the successful implementation + end user digestion of the transformation and changes to the ways of working. Having a clearly coordinated and well-structured Project Management Office with a well-bundled communications plan can really help to present the transformation as one initiative, not a thousand unrelated busy tasks. Just like the air traffic controller the role is to ensure that planes take off and lands safely at the right time in the right place.

Align Process + System
System design and implementation and process design and implementation need to happen in parallel, to be aligned. You can’t implement a system without a clear and consistent set of global processes, and global processes will only work if the system enables the necessary transactions.
Roles and workflows must be defined and aligned. One without the other = an unholy and costly mess and lots of re-work.

Align Portal with People
Think about what is relevant for the end user when designing your intranet portal. Ensure navigation and access to information is simple and easy. Use a search engine with keyword enquiry. The most frequently asked questions that employees normally ask are the ones to ensure you have written good content answers for on the portal. Keep these answers up to date, relevant and fresh and you will save everyone time.

5. Hire an HR Shared Services Team Director and Team Leader EARLY

Sadly, all too often companies make the mistake of leaving it until their new HR Service Centre is up and running before hiring the HR Service Director, and team leaders. It is a mistaken belief that it is costly to hire these roles early. Particularly if they are an additional cost to a headcount not yet saved elsewhere in the organisation.

My counter proposal is to hire these pivotal roles early. Select those who are change agents, good at stakeholder engagement + employee relations, and particularly strong on the delivery of customer service satisfaction: the most important metric there is! Make them part of your pre Go-Live project team, conducting knowledge transfer, engaging early with key stakeholders and hiring the team. If they are involved in this it will build a stronger psychological contract and a vested interest to build the best team, the best processes, lay the best foundations for the new house right from the start. That’s actually cost effective!

6. Be clear on HR roles for the new HR Model

The HR Community will have one question on their mind as you announce your HR Transformation program: What’s in it for me? Behind that question lies their hierarchy of needs: What happens to me, when, what are the opportunities/options for me, and what if there are no opportunities for me? Don’t pretend that these questions can remain unanswered. Don’t leave the elephant in the room unannounced. Don’t lose trust. Acknowledge that their questions are relevant and real. Be honest.

You may not have all the answers yet but do your best to outline the road-map and the 3 routes to be taken:
a – you can be selected for a role in the new model,
b – you can grow your CV in change and project management,
c – there is no clear role yet defined that we can see for you.

However, if you stay and help with knowledge transfer, a fair and respectful package and support will be there for you if ultimately no suitable roles match for you.

7. Change Management is Key

Don’t underestimate change management or the time it takes. Give quality time to this. Behaviours don’t change on paper or after a single slide deck presentation. You are promoting a new concept and at first, it seems just a concept, a rather uncomfortable concept. Until people see how it works for them. There is a change for line managers to become more empowered and empowering as People Managers.

Have the courage to spend time with HR to help them through their personal transition. They need to accept that the change must come from them.

8. Rule of 8: communicate, communicate, communicate

In turbulent change, you can never over communicate.

When the game is changing, the old rules and framework will not be the same anymore, this is where you have to help the team to take it all in and to adjust to the changing environment. People often don’t hear, and sometimes don’t want to hear, the first message of change. They just don’t take it in. So say it again and again and again but with the same core message. Repeat it 8 times or more, nearly everyone will hear it, internalises it and recognises it as their new terms of reference.

9. Think of knowledge transfer as a joint project team

Create a project management team mindset with a clear charter and purpose. It’s about collaboration, it’s not about wanting to let employees in that country down. This approach sets up conditions for success.
Spend time and money doing as much face-to-face/voice-to-voice knowledge transfer and training as you can. It’s about giving and receiving the gift of knowledge and it can actually be a reward for an employee to get the opportunity go to another country to do this.

Steer clear of any connotations of “taking over”, “raiding their brains”, “us and them”. They set an unhealthy atmosphere for the project and must be confronted early if they arise.

10. Go-Live is just the start!

Check that the new roles, systems and processes are working, especially beneath the surface. Ensure that people are trained for their new roles and that they have actually made the behavioural transition from old state model to new state new model and new actions.

Actions are everything. Read verbal and non-verbal signs. Praise adoption and good examples of the new ways of working. Encourage customer feedback on the service and be quick to improve the service where needed. Nip the bad habits in the bud and the signs of old ways of working via firm, constructive feedback with SMART examples.

Take time to positively celebrate Go-Live day with a drink and a cake as a milestone achieved. It marks the end of the beginning; the start of a new life-cycle of continuous operational excellence.

Simon Brown Associates

Simon@simonbrownassociates.com
www.simonbrownassociates.com

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

HR from a global perspective

How many times have you been on the receiving end of a fabulous new ‘global initiative’ created by your US colleagues? It’s rolled out with lots of enthusiastic fanfare only for it to be received badly over here in Europe, as they haven’t taken into consideration cultural implications, the legal framework, consultation with works councils, translation into local languages or all of the above?

Global HR

Frustrating, isn’t it?

I’m certain all senior HR professionals that work in multinational companies parented in the US will be familiar with the stereotype of US leaders imposing global programmes and change initiatives with a one size fits all approach, on the rest of the world. (Incidentally, Donald Trump isn’t doing much to dispel this myth about US culture at the moment!). This can obviously cause a lot of frustration for non-US HR leaders and can result in failed initiatives and disengaged employees that feel their employer doesn’t understand their needs.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of the latest great idea, it is easy to feel that your stateside colleagues are wrong to roll out programmes without understanding the local markets and that they just don’t understand the complexity of employment law outside of the US (or indeed they just enjoy making your job more difficult!).

However, as HR leaders operating in increasingly global markets, it is incumbent upon us to work together with our colleagues not only in the US but across the globe. It’s only by working in this way that we can overcome cultural, technical, legal and process challenges in different jurisdictions to deliver lasting change. I would suggest we need to take a closer look at our role in that rather than directing a few choice words across the pond.

In my experience, US leaders in US parented companies often just can’t comprehend the complexity in other jurisdictions. They are simply are not familiar with the industrial relations framework and employment law landscape outside of their own country. When they learn about it, they are often disbelieving of how complex some jurisdictions can be in relation to the US.

It is absolutely true that some jurisdictions are substantially more complex from an industrial relations and employment law perspective than others. There is a spectrum of employee-centric to employer-centric employment law frameworks in different parts of the world – the US is at one end of that spectrum with it being very employer friendly, with little employment law restrictions (except in the state of California – known as the ‘France of the US’) and therefore it allows US organisations to drive change quickly and at a reasonable financial cost.

The real France, for example, is at the other end of the spectrum where the labour code, derived from a long standing socialist culture is firmly in favour of protecting employees’ rights – any kind of organisational change that will impact employees can take months of negotiation with the works councils and comparatively be much more expensive to implement than it would have been in the US. The UK lies somewhere in the middle on this spectrum with a healthy employment law framework to protect the rights of employees but with enough flexibility to enable organisations to move forward with their plans without debilitating legal hurdles or cost.

So how can we avoid these pitfalls to become more effective at rolling out global initiatives, locally?

If you have a senior team of collaborative HR and business leaders, global organisations are able to celebrate and take the best from each culture. There are some very easy ways to do this; making sure that all geographies and cultures are represented on change teams is an obvious first step; taking the right amount of time to test with a global audience new initiatives before a roll out helps to refine the end product and ensure it can meet the needs of the whole workforce. Frequent, open and honest dialogue in an environment that listens to others perspectives is the key to ensuring all voices are heard and all corners of the globe are represented.

It’s not helpful to US colleagues to continuously hear that they can’t do something because of the ‘law’ in a specific jurisdiction as often that’s simply not true. Due to this non-US HR leaders need to be solutions focussed and explain how something can be achieved within the boundaries of the legal frameworks in different jurisdictions. Never say never – just tell them how it can be done even if it will take time and cost more!

Finally, my advice to any senior HR professional working in a multi-national company is to embrace – as a core part of their role – the need to educate, educate, educate US colleagues to ensure that enough time is planned in advance to manage the legal requirements to consult and the needs of local markets when making any kind of organisational change. Have a ‘summary of employment law outside of the US’ presentation in your back pocket ready to be adapted and shared with your US colleagues when the occasion presents itself.

Working in a global environment can be challenging but it is so rewarding when an organisation takes the right steps to ensure that its people initiatives do meet the needs of a global workforce and HR leaders play a vital and exciting role in making that happen.

This is a guest article, written by Coleen Highfield, who is Vice President of HR (Europe and Africa) at MoneyGram International. You can get in touch with her via LinkedIn by following this link…

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.