Personnel Today Awards 2001 update

Short listed teams for the Industrial Society Award for Organisational

This award recognises HR teams which have demonstrated an improvement in
business performance through organisational change.  Innovation is a key factor, with the judge looking for evidence
of change in the motivation, commitment and behaviour of staff as a result of
the overhaul.  The winner will be clear
about the positive impact of this activity on business results.

Achieving world class

What the team did

In early 1999, the newly formed Barclays Corporate Banking business introduced
a communication event known as "Achieving World Class" in which it
outlined the objectives and rationale of the business to its 12,000 staff. The
main aim was to establish a high performance culture and improve productivity.

A new board-level HR director was recruited who devised an HR strategy to
achieve these objectives. In a year the HR team struck a deal with banking
union Unifi to give line managers the chance to get involved in union
consultation and allow the introduction of performance-related pay. The
performance management system was also overhauled with responsibility for
setting pay and bonuses passed to line managers.

A strategic review of the corporate banking business presented additional
challenges for the HR team. Three businesses needed to be created – an SME
bank, a B2B Internet exchange and an institutional banking business aligned
with capital markets. This required the HR team to develop leadership
potential, and organisational and management reviews identified potential leaders.
The HR team then ran a leadership programme, measuring candidates’ performance
against a set of leadership criteria. "A major change for the bank was
moving away from a paternalistic pattern to a structure where people were
taking personal responsibility for their actions," explains Terry Bowden,
director of organisational management development.

Why they did it

A combination of competition, globalisation of financial services and the
Internet revolution prompted Barclays to dismantle its regionalised structure
and establish an integrated corporate banking business in its place. This
presented the HR team in early 1999 with the challenge of establishing a new
organisational culture.

Benefits and achievements

Two years since the change programme was instigated, Barclays has achieved a
12 per cent rise in operating profits on the back of revenue growth and
achieved its stated objective of a 10 per cent improvement in operational
productivity. Line managers have responsibility for pay and reward while employees
can actively manage their own careers.

The team

Number in team 50
Staff responsible for 9,000
HR director Mark Wells
OMD Terry Bowden
Head of HR Julia Wiffen
HR adviser Tash Samadpour
Head of HR Rachel Yates
Head of HR Nigel Fretwell

Prime Focus
Performance, development & review scheme  

What the team did

After securing agreement from the executive board in 1997 and
its staff-elected works council, the Prime Focus HR team began rolling out a
training and development strategy, including a new performance, development and
review (PDR) scheme. The team held focus groups with staff to agree a
competency framework and a set of behavioural indicators for recruitment,
training and development. Many job roles were changed as the company needed
staff with a broader skills base to respond to a wide range of queries
encompassing employment, training and debt.

The next stage was the introduction of performance-related pay
linked to these competencies. HR manager Yvonne van Boolen, says, "We had
the full support of the executive board and made it clear to staff what they
were trying to achieve."

The team also developed a recruitment community mailing list,
targeting ethnic minorities by advertising in local and ethnic press. It also
analysed staff postcodes to measure the recruitment of workers from socially
deprived areas.

Why they did it

In December 1997 the executive board decided to reinvent Focus
Housing into the country’s first social investment agency, known as Prime
Focus. This was driven partly by increased competition in social housing and
partly by clients demanding other services, such as employment and training. To
achieve these goals, the HR team re-launched the organisation as a business
that "acts quickly, works in partnership and provides a quality

Benefits and achievements

Staff surveys have allowed Prime Focus to measure the
effectiveness of its change programme. This year’s survey reveals that, despite
significant change, 95 per cent of staff are clear about their job roles and 89
per cent know their personal targets. The workforce is also more diverse, with
ethnic minority representation rising from 16 per cent in March 1999 to 23.3
per cent in March 2001. Changes in employee attitude and the organisational
culture contributed to an improvement in the company’s results. Prime Focus
worked with 500 partner organisations last year, helping 649 socially excluded
people into work. It also secured funding of more than £1m.

The team

Number in team 10
Staff responsible for 800
HR adviser Karen Roberts
HR manager Yvonne Van Boolen
Corporate services director Janice Smith

Change programme

What the team did

The Ventura HR team overhauled its work practices and culture
with the aim of making the company more competitive. It introduced new terms
and conditions for its 1,500 staff, including streamlining employment contracts
so that all employees worked under the same terms.

The work patterns of call centre staff were changed and shift
work introduced so staff could respond more effectively to business demands,
explains HR director Kate Marsden. The team also reviewed its performance
management system by linking individual contribution to company objectives. A
staff bonus scheme was introduced to provide an incentive for improved staff
performance. Ventura also re-positioned itself in the local market in terms of
recruitment, with 500 new staff joining over a year.

Marsden, who sits on Ventura’s board, says, "All these
changes sprang from what we needed to do as a business to remain competitive."
The programme was achieved, from director level downwards, through clear
objectives, good communication and a flexible team approach both across HR and
the business as a whole.

Why they did it

Ventura, part of the Next Group, was subject to an internal
review by its parent company in the second half of 1999. A key finding was that
the work environment needed to change in response to increasing competition in
the outsourcing market. As a result, a new managing director and board of
directors were brought in to spearhead the change programme. They also came up
with a new mission statement with specific corporate objectives. It was the
task of the HR team, led by Marsden, to interpret the company objectives into a
clear change plan over a 12-month period.

Benefits and achievements

Ventura recorded a profit increase of more than 20 per cent
year-on-year, despite a managed reduction of overall turnover. There were also
operational productivity improvements of more than 30 per cent in five months, without
any adverse effect on staff service levels. Ventura also secured new business
contracts, leading to the creation of 50 new jobs.

The team

Number in team 60
Staff responsible for 3,500
HR director Kate Marsden
HR general manager Bev Ewing
Head of HR Pamela Atherton
HR account manager Sarah Magrane, Kate Marsden
HR account manager Helen Roden

Judge’s comment

David Miller, managing director,

Barclays Bank

"An excellent project that made a difference. I
particularly liked the use of processes and performance management."

Prime Focus

"Struck me as an organisation with limited resources doing
an excellent change implementation. It scores highly on results focus."


"A good, robust approach to organisational transformation.
Best use of tools, data driven and well-produced materials all add up to an
excellent piece of work."

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