With a new managing director and a place on the board, the HR director at TNT Express has a lot to look forward to.
Change is unsettling for any organisation and when a new managing director is appointed it can be an uneasy time, particularly for the rest of the board.
For HR, the changes at TNT Express, the global business-to-business express delivery company, are full of promise.
On 1 January 2004, Marie-Christine Lombard started as group managing director. She was joining a large multi-national that employs 43,000 people in more than 200 countries, flies 43 aircraft, and operates a road fleet of 21,000 vehicles. The company is owned by TPG, which also owns the Dutch postal service Royal TPG Post, and within TPG, there are three divisions: Express, Logistics and Mail.
Lombard quickly announced some changes in senior management, and for Maureen Rooney, who heads the HR function at TNT Express, the changes have helped raise the profile of people management within the organisation.
“A managing director new to the role, taking time to talk and listen to the business, provided an opportunity to review what we have been doing,” says Rooney.
More importantly, the group managing director sees HR as a business partner. This meant Rooney could demonstrate the business benefits of HR policies, such as the Investors in People standard and provided a platform from which HR policies could be carried forward, she says.
Lombard, who was previously managing director of the French business unit within TNT Express, has been charged with supporting the overall TPG vision, as set out by TPG chief executive Peter Bakker. Called TPG1, the aim of the overall TPG vision is to identify synergies within the three divisions – Express, Logistics and Mail – to create one culture.
Realising this vision has big implications for the company’s HR function and its HR director. Since becoming group managing director, Lombard has been holding individual meetings with senior managers to review divisional challenges. “She has been taking the time to listen and learn,” says Rooney.
The meetings have enabled Rooney to make the case for HR as a strategic function, an argument that was also supported by other senior managers in their meetings with Lombard.
“I had my views of what was required,” she says. “Our [hers and Lombard’s] thinking is similar. The past few weeks have been a sounding board for managers.”
Success followed, and after this consultation the HR function was made a board level function, having previously reported to the director of IT.
Having a large global workforce, Rooney’s remit is to develop and implement the HR strategy for TNT Express and to link the divisional business and people-management issues with the TPG1 vision. The strategy is to push the vision down to the divisions within the business, and then link them to TPG1.
She will also be developing best practice and supporting the managing director’s work across TPG as a whole.
This is the first time HR has had a voice at board level, and with an international perspective, says Rooney. HR will work as a business partner in the wider perspective of business challenges such as EU legislation and employment changes, thinking globally about these issues.
“Being one company provides us with the opportunity to share best practice in the logistics and mail divisions, and standardise those people processes,” says Rooney. “The three parts of the business have worked independently in the past. The vision is to create one company and one culture. There are enormous benefits of standardisation of best practice.”
One area where this is happening is in the company’s key process of recruiting, equipping, developing and empowering people. In each key area, the aim is to develop standard processes and develop links from induction through to management development.
“This is to support the aim of presenting one face to the customer, which is important with so many offerings and products,” Rooney says.
In terms of the HR function, Rooney aims to make changes in three areas.
HR development – in the areas of learning, performance management, talent management, succession planning and 360-degree feedback.
Reward – to look at the management system for reward, carrying out job evaluations and linking these to reward. HR will look at international assignments and assess how to reward people who move around the globe.
HR projects – this will involve redesigning the employee survey to look at engagement. It will also look at organisational design, reviewing criteria for key performance indicators. Rooney says she wants to find out which ones are relevant to the business, and to look at common measures. This will involve the finance function and how its reporting systems work.
There are also plans to review 360-degree appraisals and pilot a new scheme, as well as overseeing a project to develop the organisation’s back-office systems.
Rooney will be working with a cross-functional team to improve and measure people management performance.
“We will be working to improve the objective setting within our performance management system, which will measure financial and people management results,” she says.
The aim is to review the staff satisfaction survey to better understand what drives engagement, and then link the employee, customer and supplier survey results with operating results.
The cross-functional team will be made up of two or three senior managers within the HR team, and representatives from the business – one managing director, a general manager and someone with a sales focus.
All these changes will make HR more strategic within the organisation.
“The changes do make HR more strategic,” Rooney says. ‘I have identified with the managing director what HR has to do. We have to deliver tangible benefits measured by key performance indicators.”
Rooney’s relationship with her managing director is vital.
“Lombard is a person with very strong values, particularly when it comes to people management,” says Rooney. “Her vision for TNT Express cannot be reached without attracting and retaining the right people. The focus is on getting the right people in the right jobs.
“My legacy would be to create a truly professional people management environment in a diverse, people-oriented global organisation,” Rooney adds.
Raise your profile If you would like to share your challenges with other HR directors then e-mail email@example.com
The framework for organisational excellence at TNT Express
The EFQM Excellence Model
Managers unify the TNT Express team and recognise outstanding performances that enable the company to be the most successful express delivery company
The Investors in People standard helps the company train all employees to do their jobs
Policy and strategy
The sales force sells no discount simplified tariffs to business to business express delivery users
Partnerships and resources
Partnerships with our suppliers including sub-contract drivers help TNT Express to be the fastest and most reliable carrier
The seven key processes enable everyone to work together to achieve the mission and vision of the company. They are:
winning and keeping profitable customers
delivering on time and in perfect condition
issuing clean invoices and getting paid
recruiting, equipping, developing and empowering people
maintaining safe and secure workplaces
creating and building competitive edge
Making TNT Express a great place to work increases staff satisfaction
Delighting customers with friendly, fault-free service creates shareholder value
Using quiet aircraft and taking other measures friendly to the environment improves our reputation
Key performance results
Continuously improving profits and other excellent results are the outcomes of all the company’s work
The TNT Express mission statement
‘Our aim is to be the fastest and most reliable provider of express delivery services. Providing the best service enables us to delight customers and be the most successful global business-to-business express delivery company. TNT Express has seven key processes that provide a framework for achieving our vision and everyone in the organisation has a vital role to play in getting it right first time, every time’
Maureen Rooney’s CV
Director of Human Resources, TNT Express
- Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
February 2004 – Director of HR, TNT Express
July 1999 – Director of HR, TNT International and TPG Information Systems
1996 – Director of HR, TNT Express Worldwide Northern Europe
1991 – General manager HR, TNT Express Worldwide (UK) Ltd
1986 – Personnel manager, TNT Express Europe
1983 – Personnel officer, TNT Ipec
1970s-1980s – Employee relations officer, British Leyland Truck and Bus Division