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

My HR Guiding Principles. No.1 ‘The Key to Organisation Capability is Talent Management’

Within Organisations there is much talk about Organisation Design, Organisation Culture and Organisation Strategy. Based on 30+ years of insight, I have concluded  that much of this can be condensed into one key topic, how successfully you actively manage your employee talent. An Organisations success depends on the talent it has on board and how well this talent is managed. This strong correlation continues throughout the Organisational life-cycle.

In my opinion if you manage your talent strategies well, your Organisation will be fully aligned and will drive your Business Goals and Objectives.

In designing talent management processes, focusing on talent from the day it joins your Organisation is a must. Seek to continuously build skillsets, competencies, knowledge and capability. Put metrics in place to continuously measure this and make these metrics the core of your Organisations HR business contribution.

In doing so focus also on potential future talent, don’t forget your potential future talent pool. They are not in your organisation yet, but your complete talent management approach should seek to engage them.

Segment your talent into talent pools. Know how you will address the needs of each pool,  for example early talent, technical talent, high-potential talent and leadership talent. Build interventions and processes specific to each talent pool. The needs of each pool will be different as will their expectations.  Do this well and your talent will remain, will grow, will exceed expectations and talent not yet hired will want to join.

That’s my take on how to focus on building sustainable organisational capability. It is just as important now as it ever was for an Organisation to get right, perhaps even more so in these times of uncertainty and change we now live in.

Sean Kane

It’s time to prepare for return to work – Covid-19

It’s time to start getting back to work. We all need it. Thankfully we now have an outline plan to help guide many of us back to work and our economy back to life. These are important milestone steps and we all have a responsibility to manage this unfamiliar transition effectively.

If you are a Business Owner or a Business Leader you will be charged with managing this for your Business. As I see it, there will be two key responsibilities:

1) Ensuring the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of your returning colleagues

2) Allowing your returning employees get on with restarting the Business by letting them get on with their Jobs.

Number 1 should be your primary concern. You will need to focus building employee trust that you will protect them and make the ‘new normal’ safe for them. They will thank you for this effort and will repay you many times over by putting commitment and energy into restarting and reigniting your Business.

So what should you be paying particular attention to right now, in purely practical terms. All of the following as a minimum;

a) Communication. Communicate regularly with all at home affected employees. Communicate with them before the planned return to Business opening date and build on this especially on Day 1 of return. Focus these communications on how they will be protected and kept safe as they get back to their jobs.

b) Have a Plan, but be prepared to share it and refine it regularly based on feedback and input from all affected employees.

c) Build new visual signage that explains the key aspects of the new ‘onsite normal’ working arrangements. Clearly mark and identify hand wash/sanitiser stations, PPE supply stores, new office layouts, etc.

d) Develop clear new and updated procedures around social distancing, canteen seating, break times, work station spacing, face coverings, etc.

e) Upgrade the office or building cleaning schedules. Build in deeper levels of cleaning and more frequent cleaning intervals.

f) Consider the need to develop new shift patterns and schedules also. Be prepared to seek buy-in and support for new role changes and responsibilities. This will be critical in the early stages of Business recovery.

g) Plan to restrict visitors to your work premises to essential services, mainly deliveries.

h) Provide a forum for all employees to ask questions and seek clarification.

i) Allow staff to settle in to the new work model and focus the first return to work day exclusively around effective communication and Q+A support.

j) As the Business Owner or Business Leader be visual and available to all your staff, especially in the early days of return to work.

Finally always remember your key responsibility, the Health, Safety of each member of your staff. If you can earn that trust, your team will focus on rebuilding the Business and making it even better than before. They will I believe do so with greater buy-in, effort, engagement, collaboration and Teamwork. They will know and see you have their best interests at heart.


Re-Shaping The HR Function

The HR profession continues to evolve, adapt and grow its presence and influence as part of Organisational Business Models. It has shown itself to be a resilient profession, capable of effective adaptability towards its mission to support the Businesses it serves. Its Business contribution is adding value more of the time, justifying its call to be recognised as an equal partner on senior leadership teams. The continual evolution has seen many new trends emerge, the current latest examples focussed on the following:

– A reduced layering within HR Organisations with overall HR team sizes continuing to steadily reduce.

– An increased use of Individual Contributor roles, subject matter experts across HR disciplines.

– An increased level of HR outsourcing, especially within Project & Admin related activities.

– A greater focus on the use of Technology and Data Analytics to support conclusions and recommended solutions. Coupled with this is an increased use of Business-case modelling to engage better with Business Leaders.

– A reduction in the number of HR Generalists roles across the function.

– Deeper centralisation within HR Organisational models, primarily focussed on global policy rollout with local application latitude.

There are many other HR trends emerging for sure, but the above are now quite well established. The key question becomes, how effective are they proving to be?

Sean Kane

Kane HR Projects Limited

Employment Law Core Elements – What’s the Law on Annual Leave

All employees are entitled to 4 weeks paid holiday leave per leave year

Employees qualify for paid annual leave and accrue same from day 1 of their employment. In other words there is no qualifying service level period

If you become ill while on holiday and are certified as being sick, you can take these days again as annual leave, as these days are not considered annual leave

You must receive at least one holiday period of 2 consecutive weeks, somewhere throughout the leave year

You must take your annual leave entitlement and both you and your employer are legally obliged to ensure you do so

It is the employer’s perrogative as to when annual leave may be taken

In Ireland, employee’s are also entitled to 9 public holidays in addition to their 4 weeks annual leave