HR Guiding Principle No. 12 – KNOWLEDGE exists at all levels within all Organisations

Knowledge exists at all levels within all Organisations. It exists both vertically and horizontally across all levels and this repository of knowledge is an often overlooked, unharnessed prized Organisational asset.
HR professionals should be seeking to address and harness this. It is more important now than ever, given the knowledge economy we live in where often what differentiates modern Organisations is their ability to systemize and use this knowledge productively and purposefully.
As I see it, the challenge to us is threefold:
1)     Develop Organisation Cultures that facilitate and reward knowledge sharing and knowledge collaboration. This is a largely unexplored activity. It will not happen naturally and will need focus and leadership to flesh out how best to do this. Organisations that crack this will flourish and have a unique asset in their armoury. It is a clear competitive advantage.
2)     Build out Knowledge Inventories and Organisational Knowledge Hubs.
3)     Code advanced data analytics to ensure that insights contained within are available to all Organisation team members, are fully understood and fully usable.
An added complexity is that much of the key knowledge that exists across an Organisation is Tacit Knowledge. Much of an Organisation’s expert knowledge base is in employee heads and not in an existing Organisational Database. New, creatively designed, databases are required.
Put simply I would empower HR professionals to seek to build knowledge Inventories within their Organisations. This will involve development of bespoke systems to capture this and advanced data analytics to retrieve this knowledge effortlessly, speedily, in a useable way.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No. 11 -The key to buy-in happens when actions taken match policy guidelines

Building real sustainable and inclusive team engagement is not easy. It requires effort, focus, commitment and action.
The blind-spot with some of these programs is frequently in the application. All the effort goes into fleshing out the required company policies & guidelines, while little goes into ensuring the behaviours and actions demonstrated right across the Organisation match these. Company/HR policies are well developed, detailed and often based on best practice. This is a great start, but only a start. The key to the true application of these policies is what happens on a day to day basis within the Organisation, after roll-out. If the day to day actions are not matching the clearly outlined policy detail, then employees will not buy-in to the policy or commit to its principles. Disconnects if they exist will become visible, inevitably leading to confusion, rendering articulated company policy redundant , ineffective and in all probability counter-productive. Where policy exists it must be matched with recognisable, reinforcing actions and behaviours and strong supportive leadership, leading by example.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No. 10 – Momentum outpaces the search for Perfection every time

As referred to in earlier posts, I firmly believe that there are numerous solutions for each and every HR Challenge. Many are good and workable solutions. The trap to be avoided is searching for the ideal best case or best practice solution. Delaying progress during this search through over analysis, lack of complete data, conflicting inputs or consideration of each and every stakeholder view, can lead to procrastination and lack of progress. I have been very guilty of this habit in the past. However since starting my own business I have become more aware of the power of momentum. Seeking continual progress, often in small (or even sideway) steps, builds momentum and more often than not solution pathways present themselves. If a HR challenge exists, don’t delay the tackling of it by waiting for the silver bullet. It may be too late by the time you find it. Be open to finding it as you move forward with action. Otherwise we as HR professionals can rightly risk being accused of procrastination, indecisiveness, inaction. These are habits that can and must be changed. For me forward momentum is the key to changing them.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.8 Good Data drives better decision-making

This principle is as true for the HR function as it is for any other business function. Often in HR we see ourselves as more right brain focussed (intuitive, creative) and less analytical , logical or rational driven (left brain focussed). We should be using both brain hemispheres for maximum effectiveness.

Data exists in numerous repositories within the HR Function. Often the data is poorly codified, regularly inaccurate or outdated and in many unconnected (often unspecified) locations. It is also true to say that often as HR Professionals we are not aware of the incredible amount of data we have at our finger tips.

Crisp, clear accurate data, when interrogated properly, always points to and drives enhanced logical next steps or action plans. HR professionals need to get serious and business like about the data we generate. We need to build one secure data warehouse for all this data. We need to organise it logically and wash it up for use. Then when we are called upon to input to business challenges, we can offer our intuitive HR expertise coupled with hard supporting and ideally compelling data. Now we truly are playing an important Business Partnership role on an equal footing with our Leadership colleagues.

Business decision-makers demand supporting data. The reality is we have mountains of it at our disposal. We just don’t use it effectively in my experience. We can change that anytime.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.7 – Listen more & listen to understand

There is two sides to every story, debate or indeed argument. There will always be some right and some wrong in all versions. You need to hear all sides, before you decide on your  own considered professional view and form your opinion. ‘Listen with your ears,  hear with your emotions’ is sound advice. I have used this approach a lot throughout my HR career. I always try and look at every HR action or intervention from the users point of view and in discussing the detail am open to trying to see it from anothers’ perspective. This understanding has guided me to better decision-making and better judgements. Listening is such an under developed and under utilised skill. Most people are so attached to their own beliefs and opinions, they shut out the beliefs and opinions of others. This is a great pity as good engagement flows where people with differing opinions listen to each other and build on each others input. ‘Listen to understand, not to argue’ is more sound advice. We in HR should be the practice champions in this space.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.6 – The vast majority of employees are inherently interested in their roles and want to be successful

We all like to feel valued and that we are contributing to something better in our work and career lives. Most of us within our Organisations are interested and keen to contribute to the business, add value and be rewarded for doing so. We want to come to work each day, do a good days work and get fairly rewarded and recognised for it. This is my starting premise and it has been borne out consistently throughout my career.

This being so, what are the key takeaways for us as HR professionals?. Mine is simply, design your HR model with the above premise to the forefront. Build HR systems, develop HR policies & procedures for the 98% employee cohort who will abide by, comply with and live within them. Challenge & tackle, as exceptions, those who try and live outside your corporate ‘way of doing things’. The 98% will expect you and want you to do so and just as importantly you owe it to them to do so. This in my opinion is a key building block towards creating your desired Organisational Culture.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.5 -Training is an Investment, not a Cost

Training & Development is an Investment, not a Cost. An Investment that well managed will generate a great return. It is a partnership between employer and each employee. The employer must provide adequate role specific training alongside developing a culture that embraces personal development. The employee must proactively own and manage their personal & career development. Both have a vested interest in and responsibility towards the success of this partnership approach. Done properly it will facilitate and fuel business success alongside individuals fulfilling more of their talent capability.

There are two components to all successful training. One is knowledge transfer (the easy part), the other is application know how. We are all capable of and know how to do much more than we actually do, or indeed than we believe we can do. As the saying goes, knowing is not enough. Taking the practical action steps to put the learning into use is where the real gains are. Both employer and employee need to be aware of this and focus continuous effort towards the practical application of all learning. Many L&D Strategies miss this key element.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.4 All HR decisions require & deserve proper explanation

Decision-making is a skill. It is a life skill as well as a management skill. It can be learned and should be taught.
In HR we are in decision-making mode much of the time. Decisions of all sizes, many of which impact the business and in nearly all cases impact our employees. In so doing we should be prepared to make the required decisions, but also to communicate them clearly and succinctly. Just as importantly we must be prepared to justify them and to explain them. This is best done through open employee communications. We then must be prepared for challenge. This requires an openness to constructive feedback and a willingness to making changes. Our decisions, will please some, others will be indifferent, and more will be unhappy. All affected employees deserve the opportunity to have decisions explained to them. We as HR Leaders must commit to back up and justify our decisions, share our decision-making rationale and the logic used to arrive at our decisions. In so doing we may not always be popular but we will earn respect. Explanation is a key component of any worthy decision-making process for me.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No.3 -Constant Change – Keeps an Organisation Change Capable

Constant Change – Keeps an Organisation Change Capable

Strategic Change is not easy to implement and get right. It will always meet challenge and resistance. If you can build a Company Culture where your workforce are used to ongoing change, they will become agile and proactively capable of rowing with it, rather than against it. They will even create it. That’s how I see it.

Let’s be honest. Very few of us instantly embrace change. Most of us display initial anxiety at the very least. This is natural, normal and human. Our initial concern focuses almost exclusively on ourselves. What will this change mean for me?. How will it affect me and what’s important to me?. This typical overwhelming initial response to proposed change is to assume negative impacts. Inevitably much of these negative impacts never materialise. Rarely are they as severe as we imagine. Frequently they are actually positive when embraced.

We are creatures of habit. None of us like change, especially if we didn’t choose it and it is foisted upon us. However no development or progress can occur without change.

So, how do you go about implementing a change program to maximise the likelihood of true and lasting success on the journey of change. Here’s what I’ve learned and embraced.

Firstly you must be able to answer clearly why the change proposed is necessary and why the status quo is not an option.

Secondly you must be prepared to explain the compelling need for the change, although not necessarily the detail of the change. This leaves space for those affected to have their say and have an input.

Thirdly, respect the current status quo. It most likely has served you well until now and was the right solution for its time and circumstances. Also remember the status quo no doubt started life as new change itself.

Fourthly, be vigilant towards becoming too comfortable, too attached and too secure with the status quo. Invest in systems and processes that continually challenge it and its contribution. This is continuous improvement in action. Build into your Company Culture a desire for experimentation, a passion for constant reinvention  and a dissatisfaction with remaining in the comfort zone for too long.

When people see the need to change and the imperfections in the current status quo, they will be more open to change, will embrace it and will often create it.

Building new ways of doing things regularly involves trial and error and definitely involves imperfect pathways to change. Be open to modifications along the journey. Do not seek to control all aspects of the change journey.

Finally take time to mark the change milestones and to celebrate implementations. The lifespan of the status quo is getting shorter & shorter. The change required once implemented becomes the new status quo. And the cycle starts again.

In our hectic work lives constant change is inevitable and necessary. It must become a constant. If we follow the above methodology, regular change will become normalised. The change journey will in my opinion be less difficult overtime, and should keep us away from the burning platform …… the need for drastic change.

Sean Kane

My HR Guiding Principles. No.2 ‘The key ingredient in building sustainable Employee Engagement is TRUST’

The underlying level of trust in any Organisation directly impacts either positively or negatively on the overall effectiveness of that Organisation and its ability to attain its business goals.
Trust must exist for real engagement to occur and flourish and no worthwhile engagement can be sustained without first building a platform of trust.
For an Organisation and its employee’s to trust each other, they need to have mutual respect and care for each other and a culture of honesty and openness needs to be present. It is a two way process.
Organisations/Departments/Teams/Individuals can overcome most adversity when trust exists. They will struggle without it.
Trust leads to Engagement which in turn builds Collaboration and creates Teamwork. Strong Communications underpins this model.
Building Trust is complex and typically requires a genuine multi-faceted approach across a range of Organisational behaviours and building blocks.
Experience suggests that the more of these building blocks that you can embed into your ‘way of doing business’, the higher your Organisational Trust dynamic will be.

Sean Kane