HR It’s all about the business customers
An interesting first day at #CIPD11 yesterday.
Through a diverse range of sessions:
- Leadership, People Management & Growth – Sir Terry Leahy (ex tesco)
- Building Organisational Culture – William Rogers, CEO UKRD
- Managing Change Successfully – Natalie Woodford, GSK
- Challenging Traditional Management Thinking – John Seddon, Vangard
- Turning Customers into Fans – Nicky Brimmer, O2 Telefonica UK
Over the next few days I am sure that each of these sessions will deserve their own blog entry, however when reflecting on the day as a whole there was some interesting consistent messages from the majority of the speakers. Now why this is to be expected, what could not have been expected was the nature of the consistency.
Terry Leahy set the scene in his session where he reminded the audience that while as a CEO he spend 40% of his time in retail outlets. Not tied to the board room. For him the best way to lead and grow his business was to get close to the customers, and make it easier for staff to be seen to react to the immediate needs of customers. This in turn increases employee engagement.
For William Rogers his focus was on values. Real values that would add competitive advantage and enable employees to engage and feel part of the business. Hr observed that at the end of the working day the majority of the assets that deliver profitability leave the building at the end of each day.
GSK took a different route to “understanding the customer”. Managers and leaders on key development programmes were sent to work in third world countries to understand the person that received the medication they produce. Helping manager to realise that in this part of the world patients do not buy packets of tablets, but one at a time when they can afford it. This simple act of understanding the needs of users have enabled managers to understand the needs of these emerging markets. The impact on staff has been palpable.
O2 realised through data analysis and employee feedback that what customers wanted was easy access to solutions for problems they experienced. Staff felt uncomfortable when they could not help, and this was impacting employee engagement. By listening to staff, putting systems, training and the culture in place to enable staff to help customers has had a double success. By enabling employees to support customers this has created customers and staff that are “fans” of the brand and the way it does things. This develops both staff and customer retention.
John Seddon took a more challenging approach claiming that if you aim the “cut costs” you actually increase costs. Using examples of call centre, Seddon showed that having KPI’s can infact reduce customer satisfaction and increase staff turnover and reduce engagement. By dropping KPI type measures and focusing on enabling to help the employee to meet the needs of the customer may drive call times up, but in the medium term actually reduces costs, increases customer retention and improves employee engagement. He was scathing of process approaches like LEAN, saying to focus on what counts.
Yes much of what was said was common sense, but what is important is that the majority of these speakers are not HR but operational leaders talking to an HR audience. Of course these things would only be “common sense” if everyone knew and did this stuff… they don’t!
So what gets in the way?
Ego, verticals, and to some extent our total preoccupation with measuring, often measuring what we can and not what we should.
What is the obvious thing you do in your organisation that you wish others would do?