Working with HR leaders in my role as Head of the HR Practice at EO Executives, means I get to hear first-hand about the key market trends and challenges that are directly impacting many organisations.I have recently been talking to Keith Wilson who has been working in Change Management for over 20 years. He started his career as a Management Consultant at Accenture; has worked around the world as a HR Director at the likes of Vodafone, AstraZeneca and The BBC. Currently, Keith is operating as SVP People, Customer Experience & Product at Private Equity backed Dollar Financial Group.
With Keith leading the way in HR innovation and having worked in numerous industries undergoing significant change, transformation and growth, I wanted to understand his vision when approaching the design, facilitation and management of transformations. So, I put forward some questions to gain his insight and expertise.
Keith- you have partnered with a number of CEO's to help them manage change, but where do you believe that process starts?
It starts with a Vision/Strategic Destination and a Purpose/Mission. Once you have that end goal it is about breaking it down into its constituent parts; 1. from a longitudinal point of view, say five years and putting stakes in the ground with targets/measures and then 2. what are the capabilities you need to build and initiatives you need to drive to create the value to get to the turnaround/IPO/exit etc? Change is essentially performance management. However, not all businesses optimise the design, facilitation and management of performance.
The ideal CEO has a strong conviction (loosely held) about that direction/destination and appreciates that successful management of that change is both a science and an art.
So, having said that what role does HR have in transformation?
HR has an opportunity to step up and play the role as the architect of change - helping design the plan and facilitate/manage the delivery and execution. Day in, day out.
When you build the transformation road map you end up with many capability gaps. I think of these in terms of four buckets: Financial, Customer, Process and People.
There is a need, and more and more organisations are realising this. They need one individual sitting around the table who manages the transformation across these areas - running a PMO, bringing in expert support and keeping one eye on the future. Designing and building the organisation...
How would you typically approach change?
I think in terms of two key levers and four steps to take. The first lever is to optimise individual performance, and the second is to create a network effect and build a culture of trusted relationships. The last time I checked, HR has a significant responsibility and role to play in both of those.
What are those four steps?
1 – Set a strategic direction
I cannot stress enough how important it is to use a tool such as strategy mapping. An organisations capabilities and behaviours underpin everything. Working with your colleagues across functions aligns capabilities, process, customer outcomes and financial results, which is game changing.
Facilitating this changes how HR is perceived and more than anything, establishes the vision, path and foundations for change.
2- Measure what you manage
You need to decide on an agreed organisational methodology for managing the initiatives. For example, Six sigma. By setting the right KPIs, you then start to performance manage by exception and everyone is accountable for their role in the process.
By finding quick wins you can identify initiatives that can be visibly delivered or impact quarterly revenue in the first 30-100 days. This helps to build momentum and trust in the journey.
3 - Build high performance habits
This goes above and beyond employee engagement; it is about optimising your culture for high performance and creating new organisation norms. This will enable employees to work efficiently, produce positive results and respond with their best self.
Conversation around the change and process should also be encouraged. Fostering conversation will allow ideas to flow and enable upward challenge. I often use and rely on the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as a role model for balance, innovation and diversity throughout the organisation.
4 - Connect the dots
The final step is to create a network effect across the organisation.
You should have built systems that will drive individual and team performance, so this last step is about creating more than the sum of the parts, and unlocking huge organisational value.
Creating deep trusting relationships, enables you to help others deliver their goals, as well as unlocking ways that they can support you. This takes performance and the transformation to the next level. I always try to organise daily feedback tools and hold effective meetings, personally recognising and rewarding enterprise contributors.
Why do you use this approach?
I have seen it work in many Industries, in both listed Multi National Corporations (MNCs) and PE-backed turnarounds. The first three steps are about defining and refining optimal performance from the individual and teams, and getting the mechanisms working that allow everyone to realise their best self. The forth step is then about taking connections and relationships to the next level, creating a multiplying 'network effect' across the organisation.
Do you think the role of the CHRO is changing?
Yes. For me the role of the new CHRO (Chief HR Officer) is to work concurrently at an individual and organisational level. Firstly, helping everyone be the best they can be and secondly connecting those individuals across the organisation. Again, there is an art and a science to doing both of those successfully. From the art of motivation/influencing and relationship build to create a 'Why' to the analytics/IA' science of daily performance management feedback loops.
Keith is a Commercial HR Director, in that he developed and manages a $100M P&L. He started his career building up a Management Consultants toolkit at Accenture and has gone on to develop extensive experience in leading global teams to develop transformation change projects.
To find out more about Keith and to read the full feature, visit his LinkedIn profile here.