Our HR strategy is aligned with our business goals. We are such a people-focused business that it needs to be at the heart of everything we do. We’ve deliberately set it up so that it’s not positioned as an HR strategy, but as part of our business strategy. It’s just part of what we do.
Keep it simple
Our HR director sits on the executive board and reports to me. On a one-to-one basis, we meet formally once a month and informally, several times a month. He advises me not to overcomplicate things. And I think he’s right. It’s easy to keep tweaking things. And then when you go to the business and say: “This is what we are going to do,” they don’t get it, and they might implement only part of it. So we try to keep everything as straightforward as possible.
It frustrates me when the HR department and the business aren’t working seamlessly together. For example, we have a learning and development department. For training to be effective, managers need to prepare the person going on the course. They should inform the employee why they’re going on the course, that it is part of their development plan, what is expected of them, and what will happen afterwards.
After the course, there should be a follow-up session so that the learning is embedded and the objectives are met. It is frustrating when part of the process doesn’t work effectively. Staff then point to learning and development or to HR and complain that the training wasn’t effective – when it was the business that didn’t make it effective.
It’s exciting when the business and HR work in unison. The business environment is changing and we are being proactive about how we adapt to that. This is because HR is being flexible about learning and development. It is able to be proactive and to roll out additional training programmes for people who’ve never worked in this environment before.
The single biggest difference our HR department could make to the company’s performance would be through the provision of training and development around our customer-first strategy. This would involve constantly reviewing it to ensure we are training people in the right way, giving the right messages, and ensuring they are embedded in the business.