THE core proposition of a trusted work environment

The life blood of any Company are its employees and their ability to analyse, innovate, criticise and create. Individual employees, as a collective, generate company loyalty. A common mistake that some companies make is demanding loyalty and prescribing what it looks like. By doing this they often suppress independent thinking and its associated creativity and innovation.

The impact of this approach, can lead to employees being unable or unwilling to challenge with confidence. If and when they do, they often get penalised or often decide to leave. In the process great new ideas may get missed, continuous improvement levels are held back and business growth potentially slowed.

The corollary, where employees are supported in a creative environment and their suggestions and inputs are encouraged and listened to, employees stay loyal and engaged. This happens naturally as they feel valued and their contribution recognised.

The following simple 4 point model or plan will help managers build better and stronger trust relationships.

1) Develop and clearly communicate company policy, procedures, expectations and culture.
2) Articulate how such company policy and culture is expected to be evidenced in employee actions & behaviours.
3) Clearly define employee roles, responsibilities and what criteria are used to measure performance.
4) Avoid making promises that are unlikely to be kept, and ensure that all dialogue is conducted in an environment of openness, honesty and transparency.

Concerted management effort into these 4 steps/stages will, I believe, pay dividends and will promote and engrain, for the better, a more positive inclusive and trusted work environment.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No. 16 – To aptly contribute to the Business you support the better you must know and understand it.

Many HR professionals assume there is only one best practice version of Human Resources, encompassing HR systems, processes, policies & procedures. In reality this is not the case and is not what we, as HR professionals, should be striving for. All Organisations are unique as are their needs. If we want to best support these Organisations and find solutions in response to the emerging needs, we need to seek out best fit HR models. How do we do that?. In my experience there is only one way. Spend a lot of time learning and understanding the Business you are committed to supporting. The better you know your Organisation and how it functions, the more obvious the best HR approaches to take will emerge. You will be guided to specific solutions that make best, most appropriate sense for your Organisation right now.

Understanding the Business your support from a HR Perspective is a pre-requisite for consistent positive HR outcomes and your own career success.

Sean Kane

HR Guiding Principle No. 15 – A well designed HR Model has all its component parts fully integrated and aligned

A well designed HR Model has all its component parts fully integrated and aligned.  Otherwise it is not an effective functioning System. For example, you can’t have a Performance Management System that  rewards effort, if your variable pay system does not individualise and link pay to performance/output. You cannot Recruit for future potential if your training system does not build capability, you cannot grow or accelerate talent, if your Talent Management System does not have a career ladder component, you cannot build strong employee engagement, if you don’t conduct employee voice surveys and you cannot build teamwork, if your recognition systems do not celebrate it, etc.

When changing or upgrading any aspect of your HR Model, spend time assessing its impact on all other aspects of the model and lookout for disconnects. They are clues your HR approach is sub optimised. All best practice HR Models are a series of sub HR component systems, which should all feed into each other and build upon each other to ensure effective support for best business outcomes, while simultaneously facilitating and enabling employees to grow & flourish.

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.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

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

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

Core skillsets your HR Data Analytics Team should possess

HR Data Analytics is very topical right now in Human Resources. It is a new emerging trend within the building blocks of a best in class HR function. It is also a very under developed science and is stronger in the theory than the practice. Indeed there is also a growing logic that it is really an IT discipline rather than a HR discipline. In most organisations that have such established roles it most often aligns with the SME(subject matter expert) sub team within the larger HR functional team.

Most HR knowledge is found in a myriad of company databases. To clean this data up and get it ready for analysis, it ideally needs to be transferred to well catalogued data warehouses. From there the data can then be data mined and that’s where data analytics activity commences. Data can then be interrogated, analysed, trends identified and/or hypothesis challenged. As the model and skillsets grow, it can aspire to reach the level of predicative analytics. Given all this, what are the current skillsets that HR professionals working in this HR discipline will need to display?. A word of warning, they are in short supply and very hard to find.

Skilled HR Data Analysis requires a diverse and often unrelated set of skills and capabilities. The early emerging skills that seek to define the successful HR Data scientist best, include as many of the following as possible.

  1. Business Acumen
  2. HR Acumen
  3. IT/Technology Infrastructure
  4. Project Management
  5. Statistics
  6. Procurement
  7. Stakeholder Engagement
  8. Data Mining
  9. Storytelling

The ultimate aim of all data analytics is to drive better decision making based much more on scientific analysis rather than pure hunches or generalisations. The HR journey into this playing field is only starting, but long overdue.

Great Job, Well Done, Thank You

We all crave recognition and appreciation. It is part of the human DNA. In Organisations this goes for managers as well as team members. In sport it goes for coaches as well as players. In families it goes for parents as well as children. We all seek validation and like to be valued by others and recognised for our efforts.

We as HR professionals need to be fully aware of the above and focussed on it. We have a responsibility to facilitate positive, proactive praise & recognition as part of our overall HR strategy. Modern-day workforces are demanding instant feedback and constant positive reinforcement when they deliver good results. They are no longer prepared to stay with companies who ignore this or who haphazardly engage in it.

Organisations who want to build strong engagement and higher performance levels need to invest in well thought-out and structured reward and recognition programs. The good news, to do so is not costly, at least not in financial terms. It does however require deep insights into your Organisation, your employees and what motivates them individually. Such programs must be developed into specific, visible, appropriate and timely recognition outcomes. They must be part of an overall culture tenet and moulded into a system that automatically recognises and rewards positive behaviours and work output.

Managers who seek to build teams, challenge them to innovate and strive for high performance will need to invest time and creativity in this arena. Authentic leadership will require such proactive effort.

My advice, never underestimate the power of recognition and personal appreciation. It correlates well with building effective engagement levels.