You can ‘goal’ your own way…achieving business goals

Achieving business goals

Achieving goals, whether they’re personal or professional, can be tough. We’ve all got our own personal mountain tops. The goals that we set ourselves that, from the outset, seem nearly impossible to conquer…

I read a book called ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller. The premise is: what is the ‘one thing’ that you need to do that will subsequently make everything else fall into place and become easier?

In the book, Keller talks about breaking down your goals into long and short term, and how by doing this you can turn them into more manageable and less intimidating tasks.

Once you’ve broken them down, you can then consistently ask yourself questions about your progress to keep you on track with your overall goal.

The process

This process works in two parts. The first is about finding the right direction, and the second part is about chasing the right action.

For the first part, think about the big picture and identify what your overall goal is, what is the one thing that you want to do or achieve. This can be anything from your career goals to a personal ambition that you have.

The second part of this process is more short-term and practical. You have to ask yourself questions that provide you with a small focus on what you can do right now to help you get to where you want. For example, making that phone call that you’ve been putting off, or signing up for that networking event that you find intimidating.

Stay on track

By repeatedly asking yourself these more focused and short-term questions, you will not only keep on target to your overall goal, but you will also find yourself taking actionable steps that all build on one another and provide you with the momentum to finally reach your mountaintop!

To have a chat about your goals or your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.

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

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Let’s talk about time management

We’ve all heard of it and, although it’s something that comes around like clockwork, whenever it’s time for a performance review, it’s still something that we ironically don’t always have the time to work on, me included.

It’s easy to be ‘busy’ at work, but are we busy in the right context? Or are we all just busy being fools? And how can we make our time at work more productive?

Alleviate pressure

We live in a world where we are always switched ‘on’. Our smartphones constantly alert us to any new messages and emails, our smartwatches vibrate all day long and alert us whenever we make so many steps, and we always seem to be on the computer where there is no shortage of information being directed our way.

There’s pressure from our peers, directors, business owners and employees asking us questions, and there’s no longer an off switch for anyone.

So, how can we implement some simple structure that will help alleviate some of this pressure?

Plan, plan, and then plan a bit more. It’s not the most revolutionary answer I’ll admit, but it works.

Most people don’t plan for the following day, but you’ll be surprised at how effective setting aside time to assess the rest of your week can be.

Get organised

Create your own spreadsheet or write a list of all of your tasks for the week, whichever method works for you, and take a break every hour to assess what you’ve achieved since you last checked over your list. You will either be amazed at how much you’ve done, or surprised at how much you’ve procrastinated!

Treat your time like you would your finances – keep a close eye on them!

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself, and question how you should delegate your time. Doing this will help you identify your biggest waste of time, so you can change it!

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.

Want to hear more about our senior HR professionals golf society? Sign up here.

Why are we all so scared of business change?

Why are we all so scared of business change?

We all know what it feels like to be anxious and unmotivated when it comes to our professional lives, yet even with these feelings, we’re still hesitant about implementing change.

Change can be intimidating, but it can also present much-needed opportunities for growth and development that you wouldn’t experience if you stayed in the same, comfortable and familiar role that you’re in at the moment.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with change, but how can you incorporate change into your everyday working life if the prospect feels overwhelming?

One popular model, the change curve, can be used to help understand the varying stages of personal change and ensure that the correct support can be provided as needed.

The change curve identifies six different stages that people experience when they go through change. These stages are:

–      Stage 1: Initial reaction

–      Stage 2: Self-criticism

–      Stage 3: Confusion and doubt

–      Stage 4: Acceptance and rationalisation

–      Stage 5: Solutions and problem solving

–      Stage 6: Normalising the change

As you work through the various stages of the change curve, you’ll start to notice the positive effects of personal and business change and be able to identify at what stage you’re stuck at. Once you know this, you can find the best support to help you successfully transition into the next stage.

Whilst business change may not always be successful, it’s important to take the value of a new experience seriously.

To have a chat about your executive search, contact me at carl@refind.co.uk.
You can view more about Carl Hinett our Executive search of HR professionals specialist here.

Insider Story… Interim change management

Insider Story... Interim change management
Insider Story… Interim change management

Insider Story… Interim change management. This was my first ‘Insiders Story’ blog of 2018,  discussing two of my favourite things – change management and how great interims are!

 

For this blog, I met with Michelle Wenham, Head of HR, and Feona Veys, Senior Manager – Talent Sourcing. Both fabulous women work for The Gambling Commission and started their journey as contractors. They have been instrumental in leading and delivering truly innovative change, which has transformed the people and culture within the organisation.

The Gambling Commission is no ordinary organisation. Over the next five years, they have five priority areas: empowering and protecting consumers; raising standards across all gambling sectors; building partnerships and understanding; ensuring fair play on the National Lottery and improving regulation.

Both Michelle and Feona joined the Gambling Commission in an interim capacity to oversee change management.  They became so immersed in the business and culture, that they subsequently felt empowered by the organisation’s mission and took on permanent roles.

 

The Transformation

After joining the Gambling Commission in 2015, Michelle was shortly followed by a new CEO which naturally brought about some change.

There was a lot of discussion around the employee engagement survey – the 2015 results could have been better, so areas to be improved were identified which could have a real positive impact.

In 2012, the Commission had embarked upon a similar change programme, however, after previously struggling to demonstrate the burning platform for the change, they decided to use the employee engagement survey as the catalyst.

Michelle explained, ‘from a change perspective, the outcome we wanted to achieve was similar to the previous change programme. Sometimes it isn’t the right time to deliver the change.  It was like the stars aligned and with the right communication and the right people involved, we knew it could be a success.’

From this, they developed a new people strategy and discussed the kind of organisation they wanted to be – one that takes care of its employees and exceeds expectations in delivery.

 

How have you done it?

Previous change programmes had at times been a little ‘parent and child’ and hadn’t always successfully maintained engagement or momentum.

The new CEO really transformed the feel of change within the Commission, she took people with her on the journey. One of the key things that she did was made herself visible. She role-modelled, to the business and the senior leadership team, how visibility should look at a senior level.

They also implemented a change champion network across the business. This was a cross-functional network of employees, which meant that they were able to reach out to and engage with employees who otherwise may have got lost along the way.

Unlike many businesses, the Gambling Commission also have a Board of Commissioners alongside their leaders who have been a great support with the change management.

Michelle says, ‘the Commissioners are so engaged with us, they challenge us and have been really involved in how we use our investment and resources to get the best out of our people.’

 

Engagement is everything…

The culture within the Commission is really transforming into a truly engaging and inclusive one, which has already had a positive impact on performance and personal development.

HR has a seat at the table. Historically, L&D was always seen as an add-on but is now included as part of all functions resource planning. A day every month is allocated to every employees’ personal development.

‘L&D Week’ was also a big win. Employees had 50% of their working hours dedicated to their own personal development and they also held department roadshows.

The Gambling Commission is a programme led business, which at times can leave functions at risk of becoming very insular. Department roadshows allowed employees to understand other functions and their importance within the business.

Michelle and Feona both believe that small things make a big statement. Basic things like providing staff with fresh fruit and a wide variety of refreshments, alongside communal kitchens and break-out areas, has enabled them to further develop cross-functional relationships.

They also held their employee conference in their offices instead of off-site. Michelle said, ‘we wanted to show that you don’t go somewhere else to talk about change then come back and forget about it – the real change happens right here.’

 

It isn’t all about HR…

And the people strategy is a perfect example of this. The HR team constantly keep it under review to ensure they are delivering what has been promised. When they successfully meet those promises, they make sure that this is shared across the business, developing a feeling of trust and raised the profile of the function.

The team also launched 24 new policies across 2015 and 2016. They rebranded these as people policies to demonstrate that the organisation should be owning these policies, rather than HR. This resulted in them gaining constructive feedback from employees around their policies, enabling them to be more inclusive.

 

‘Ideas don’t have to be perfect in order to roll them out’

And I couldn’t agree more! What the Gambling Commission do really well is that they are totally honest about this and adopt the approach of ‘we are going to try this and see how it goes.’

They re-launched their spotlight recognition scheme, to recognise great behaviours on an on-going basis. Historically, this hadn’t gained much traction with employees, so they decided to make some changes in order to make it a more successful endeavour.

The Commission quadrupled the value of vouchers offered, changed the nomination process and included awards for teams as well as individuals. When re-launching they decided to review on an ongoing basis, to measure the success and take on feedback and suggestions from individuals and constantly improve the success of this scheme.

 

‘Interims have really helped to drive change’

At the Gambling Commission, they have used interims in 2 different ways. Firstly, they have brought in career interims to act as subject matter experts and be slightly more heavy hitting. Areas such as reward, communications, HRIS and PMO.

Secondly, they have brought in interims in a flexible way to fill permanent roles, before employing them, allowing the opportunity to engage with their overall offering.

Feona said ‘HR have really led the way in what good looks like when hiring an interim. We have demonstrated to the rest of the business how to effectively use interims and how flexible you can be with this approach.’

And Feona knows this first hand because, as Michelle admits, they wouldn’t have been able to secure Feona’s skillset on a permanent basis without the flexibility and proposition they have. When Feona joined as an interim, she was offered the opportunity to work 3 days per week around her previous clients, the caveat to this being that Michelle trusted her implicitly to do a great job.

In their PMO department, interims have helped them to think about ‘the art of the possible’. They have shared knowledge and brought ideas which the commission have been able to ‘borrow with pride’ and customise for their own needs.

 

‘I felt the change overnight’

Michelle and Feona both joined the Commission as interims and admit their mindsets have totally changed since taking on permanent contracts.

Feona said, ‘as an interim you definitely get less involved in the politics. You get paid to do a good job and you want to prove that you’re worth your day rate’.

Michelle also admits that she believes something is definitely different psychologically. As an interim, you simply feel different. When she signed the permanent contract, she felt the change overnight. On an interim contract, there is an end date and there are end goals, in a permanent role it isn’t so definitive.

That being said, interim isn’t for everyone, just as permanent employment isn’t, and both Michelle and Feona have gone back and forth depending on their own personal circumstances.

Michelle said, ‘I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to get the best person possible, if that means being flexible and creative then you do that. Having an interim minimises risk to the business – if it doesn’t work out, the contract ends.’

As we drew the discussion to a close, we discussed if there is such a thing as becoming ‘change-weary’.

Feona and Michelle both agree that a business can get ‘big change weary’. Big change is great, but you should always give timescales and allow time for change to settle, or employees can get change fatigue. Continuous improvement and development is part of life and change management is so important in any organisation.

 

So where has this left the Gambling Commission?

The change programme has been embedded with great success! The engagement scores have increased from 55 to 64, with leadership and change increasing by almost 30%.

They have shown that if you develop your people and culture in the right way, change becomes so natural that you don’t realise it’s happening.

They have also proved that by attracting, developing and engaging people in the right way, anything is possible.

 

A huge thank you to Michelle and Feona for their input with this blog.

If you would like to learn more about the gambling commission and what it is like to work for them, then visit their website here.

For all things interim management, change management and transformation, get in touch or if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, you can email me on kate@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim 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

Shared Services, want to attract the best talent to join your business?

Shared services
Credit: The Office, NBC

I recently published an eBook called “Why Top Performing Shared Services Talent Won’t Join Your Business & What To Do About It”. In this eBook, I explain why it is that big reputable brands (which have world-class shared services centres) still find it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent. Even though these brands may believe that “everyone loves our brand and it’s a nice place to work…” this isn’t necessarily the truth.

Is that the message you are giving off to a passive candidate market?

With over 75% of shared services professionals passively looking (and not actively seeking) a new role, then it’s no wonder that it’s difficult to attract and retain the best talent!

Delivering the right message to shared services professionals

Candidates are being increasingly selective over their future employer, and considering that Monarch Airlines, Carillion, Toys R us, House of Fraser, and Maplin (just to name a few!) have gone into administration during the past year, why would you want to leave your cushy job where you’ve worked for years, and where Betty knows how to make the perfect cup of tea, for somewhere that isn’t as secure and may be at risk of joining all of the companies mentioned in the previous sentence?

It’s important that shared services give off the right message, follow the right process and keep up with their competitors when it comes to recruiting.

The most desired Shared Services assignments in the past 12 months that I’ve managed have been within newly created roles. But why is this?

Is it because there isn’t an expectation there, or because they feel the company are performing well by creating these new roles?

Newly created positions offer a chance for candidates to put their stamp on a role and make it their own. As these positions are created due to demand for a certain skillset within a business, they also provide candidates with a sense of feeling wanted and allows them to see these roles as a challenge and the chance to pursue something new.

It’s all about how you deliver the message, and how this message is perceived by your potential future employees!

So the big question is, how do you excite people to work for your shared service centre if the role is replacing someone who lacked motivation, was bored and didn’t enjoy coming into work….

It’s all in your message.

How you get this right in your Shared Services team!

And I have just the thing that can help you with this… In my free eBook, I examine the steps you can take to stay ahead in the field.

If you would like your free copy, email me at sam@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert 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.

Lifestyles of the rich and the famous… The reality lifestyle business.

Lifestyles of the rich and the famous… The reality lifestyle business.

I was at a conference recently and bumped into an old colleague. We had a nice catch-up and before we parted ways she said it’s great to see that your lifestyle business is going so well…

 

I remember hearing the phrase ‘lifestyle business’ from my big box recruitment background, and it always had a negative connotation attached to it. However, my old colleague didn’t say it with any negative undertones at all – far from it! She was, in fact, using the phrase as a compliment, which got me thinking.

 

Why do people see recruitment firms as lifestyle businesses if they don’t want them to take over the world? A lifestyle business generally refers to a business that allows the owner to live how they want to live whilst also running the company. This phrase also often refers to a business that doesn’t consume your personal life and gives you the flexibility to shut off at the end of the day.

 

I mean, surely the days of 8 till 8 are over, especially with so much industry focus on the subject of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Thinking about it, I guess re:find does fit into the category of a lifestyle business…we have an office dog, there isn’t a suit in sight, flexible working is standard practice and we have a grown-up culture where people are supported (rather than managed to within an inch of their lives).

 

But does that mean you are a lifestyle business? Or is that just perception? How would you define a lifestyle business? Get in touch and let me know!

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.

Insider Story: International HR

In my line of work I often meet people who have lived and worked internationally and have a keen interest in the cultural differences that can be found in HR around the globe, so when Danny Kavanagh crossed my path I thought that he would be the perfect candidate for co-writing a blog with me around international HR.

 

Danny and I discussed everything from how to manage change, through to the perception that other countries have of us Brits in business. Over the last decade, Danny has worked in several countries on assignment and even lived in Scandinavia for three years.

‘The experience was educating in many ways, and included opportunities to see ourselves as others see us. In a work situation, different styles and practices are apparent. Outside of work, news and media reports on the UK and discussions with European colleagues about what was happening back home were on occasions eye-opening.‘

 

Working culture…mind the gap

Having worked across Scandinavia, Sweden, Finland and Poland, Danny has experienced a vast range of different working and social cultures and has found that whilst on one hand, it can feel somewhat bureaucratic when it comes to employment law, there is absolutely no grey area.

 

The UK can often be seen as quite direct and argumentative, where people take sides for and against certain things (e.g BREXIT) and this culture then strays into the workplace. The Scandinavians take more of a consensus approach when making decisions, as they want everyone to agree the best way forward. This method in international HR can be quite exasperating for us Brits, as we can often leave meetings wondering ‘what did we actually decide’ or ‘are we going to do anything?’

 

The culture in British business meetings, by contrast, can be broken down into either shooting down proposals or giving an overly supportive endorsement without any real examination of fact having taken place.

 

Interestingly, when Danny worked in Hungary, he found that the US parent company managers were seen as ‘brash’ and ‘disrespectful of culture’ and he found that the British acquired a ‘go-between’ role to make things work.

 

Implementing change

When implementing change in the UK, we tend to be very upfront when a decision has been made and go ahead and tell everyone what’s going to happen.

In international HR things are done differently – in Scandinavia (for cultural and legal reasons) employers are much more collaborative with their employees and talk more about their proposals, gathering opinions and seemingly seeking permission before committing to a final decision. Finland takes a consultative approach, but they always have a ‘drop dead date’ to go ahead and make the change happen.

 

In Europe, business change can affect a whole community. Companies are often heavily involved in the local community and quite often a number of members of the same family will be working there – so it can be a pretty big deal! Whilst being an interim, Danny found that he could be more direct as the expectation was that you are the ‘subject matter expert’, so your voice gets heard.

‘If I move onto a new change project and it is similar to one I have done before, I will never just re-use what I have done previously. I don’t believe in the ‘one size fits all’ or ‘off the shelf’ mantra on these things, particularly when working internationally, as organisations and cultures are so very different’

Danny believes that HR should be facilitating the balanced view in the workplace; fact-driven, un-emotional discussion searching for the best way forward whilst acknowledging the positives, challenges and sensitivities surrounding the situation.

 

There is a book which helps inform this approach by the late Hans Rosling. It is entitled ‘Factfulness – Ten reasons we are wrong about the world’ and really explores how we need to take an active approach to understand the way other cultures work and truely understand international HR.

 

A huge thank you to Danny Kavanagh for working with me to create this blog.

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.