This is a recording of a webinar from November 2022 from DISRUPTIVE LEADERS.

We look at what it takes to be a leader in today’s disrupted world, share our unique EACH framework (Employees as Adults, Consumers and Human beings), and give you lots of practical ideas and tips to help you increase productivity, engagement and innovation in your team.

DISRUPTIVE LEADERS is a live online platform giving people managers a wide range of practical tools to help them lead their teams brilliantly! 

It works perfectly with the DISRUPTIVE HR CLUB

DISRUPTIVE LEADERS content is: 

Content is updated weekly with NEW toolkits, videos and tips, plus a rolling schedule of live training webinars.

To mark the start of 2023, here are some New Year’s resolutions you might want to think about!

  1. I’m going to get rid of our ‘probation period’ to prevent loads of new hires worrying themselves sick for three months just to ‘get’ the one person who didn’t work out.
  2. I’m going to abolish performance ratings so that no-one has to suffer the indignity of getting ‘meets expectations’ for yet another year.
  3. I will rip up our 9 box grids and resign myself to the fact that no-one has understood how to fill them in – EVER! 
  4. I will replace our 3,782 employment policies with a funky welcome guide.
  5. I will stop telling everyone they have to be in the office three days a week and try to remember how we found we could actually trust people to work how they wanted during Covid.
  6. I will not sit in on any more interviews. Taking the notes and supervising managers is not a great use of my time…
  7. I will push back on any manager who thinks ‘it’s better if HR has a chat with them’. It’s not ‘better’, it’s avoidance.
  8. I am going to remind myself every day that I came into HR because I was interested in people – not process!

Happy New Year from Disruptive HR!!

In accordance with the company’s Yuletide Festivity policy, no paper chains, tinsel, bunting, streamers, banners or balloons are to be used within the office environment at any time without a completed risk assessment. 

All ‘Christmas Cakes’, ‘Yule Logs’ and ‘Mince Pies’ and must be tested for allergens and a CC (Certified Cake) notice issued. N.B. Any cake without a CC notice will be removed from the premises and destroyed in a controlled explosion.

The workplace dress code does not permit wearing a padded red suit at any time. Should any visitor get stuck in a chimney please inform facilities management. Sleighs should only park in visitor car park D otherwise they will be clamped. All elf activity must be reported under our modern slavery policy.

Music licensing law does not permit the singing of ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ (or other carols on the black list) on the premises. 

Any Christmas gifts must be registered with the anti-bribery department and be opened by security beforehand. Wrapping paper may be used but, due to the risk of paper cuts when unwrapping, safety gloves must be worn. 

Phrases used in seasonal printed materials (Christmas cards)  e.g. ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ must be accompanied by an enclosed printed caveat that these statements are purely those of the individual and do not represent the views of HR/the company.

Thank you for your cooperation. HR wishes you a Merry Christmas*.

*Please note these ‘wishes’ are not legally binding and HR in no way guarantees any employee a  ‘Merry Christmas’. 

Disruptive HR founders Lucy Adams and Karen Moran answer your questions on how to make hybrid working work.

or listen

If you search online for L&D roles you might be shocked to see how few organisations are grasping the changes in learning. Perhaps you’re already on the path to making changes in your L&D function, but need a bit of inspiration?

We’ve put together a few tips and an example L&D job spec to get you going!

Let’s start by summarising the key shifts in L&D:

You know what needs to happen and now you need someone to make it happen! Here is an example Job Spec.

Job Description – Head of Learning & Development

We strive to create an environment where our people can learn every day, have the opportunity to grow and develop and play to their strengths.

Leading and inspiring a team, you will play a key role in driving and building our culture of lifelong learning and development so that we can give all our people a great career experience, but also develop the skills and capabilities we need as a business.

Outcomes for the role:

Optional

The person we’re looking for

My first job was as a teacher in a college. Being new, I would put heart and soul into coming up with well-structured lesson plans filled with interesting ways of delivering the content. I really enjoyed the lesson planning – the bit I hated was when the actual students arrived in class and “messed up” my beautiful plan by not learning in accordance it. I quickly realised that teaching was probably not my true vocation and thought I’d learned a valuable lesson myself – that real life has a nasty habit of messing up carefully laid plans.

But clearly, I failed to learn that lesson because, fast forward to my career as an HR Director, and there I am repeating the mistake – this time with succession plans. I was told by HR experts that the succession plan is one of the things I HAD to do. And so I dutifully complied in every organisation I worked in. And not just to tick the governance box for our potential CEO replacements, but often going much further and producing numerous succession plans to cover off our Divisional top teams as well. Once I’d got a couple of names in each succession box, I would feel a lot better. We can sleep easier, I thought, we have our list. But, just as my students messed up my lesson plans, so my identified successors would mess up my succession plans.  They would leave. They wouldn’t be willing to relocate. They would struggle with additional responsibilities. They wouldn’t like the role that had been assigned as “theirs”. I began to realise that the comfort I thought I was getting from a nicely completed succession plan was an illusion.

Perhaps the bigger wake up call was the realisation that the flaw in my succession plans wasn’t just the successors, but the incumbents themselves. I was asking senior leaders to identify their successors through a process that was mis-matched to the fast-paced and disrupted world they were identifying them for. My succession planning processes always seemed to have the same problems, such as:

There are of course some innovative approaches that some organisations are using to identify, if not their certain successors, then a group of people who can provide leadership in the future. I’d like to highlight three:

Don’t try and allocate people into roles – just agree your subs bench

Instead of succession planning within silos, get clusters of leaders from different teams to identify the internal talent that’s available? If you add into the mix a couple of external perspectives who can help you think through how the roles and capabilities might need to change, you get a breadth of opinion that might lead to some interesting results.

Build talent communities

I recently met with the Head of Digital for a well-known media brand. He talked about how he had been courted for nearly two years by the CEO of his current company. No hard sell. No vacancy. Just having dinner every now and again. Building relationships with individuals who may or who may never become part of your organisation takes effort but is something all of our leaders should be doing if they’re serious about robust succession. I think the facilitation of this is a key role for HR Directors of the future.

Choose your leaders through their followers

I was very interested to hear about an approach to succession planning that didn’t go top-down, but bottom up. Using Network Analysis tools, the teams, not the incumbents were asked a series of simple questions such as:

“Who do you trust?”

“Who do you go to for connections?”

“Who inspires you?

“Who stretches and develops you?”

This lead to a number of potential successors being identified who had those attributes that meant people would follow them and would perform better. Identifying your future leaders through the people who will be led by them could provide you with some great additional insights.

When I reflect on the results of my succession efforts, I have to acknowledge that they failed to produce what was needed – capabilities for the future, movement and the creation of opportunity, a range of leadership styles and perspectives. Succession plans, like so many of our talent processes try to provide an organisation with certainty. They say “We can be certain that we have the leaders of the future because we have all the boxes filled”. But HR shouldn’t be offering this kind of guarantee. We should be brave enough to tell our organisations that we can’t possibly be certain about who exactly will fit which role, by when. All we can offer them are some future-proofed attributes that, if possessed by enough people, might enable our organisations to survive or thrive. Attributes such as curiosity, connectivity and insight, humility and self-knowledge.

HR has a bit of a ‘love-hate’ relationship with the finance function, don’t we? On the one hand, most HR professionals groan at the thought of Finance going anywhere near the people agenda. Insufficient empathy. Overly focused on the tangible assets and the numbers, rather than the intangible value of people. Too interested in short term deliverables and not enough in building long term capability. Too black and white in their judgements. Every HR professional I’ve ever known has voiced these concerns, particularly if we’re unlucky enough to report into them!

On the other, we admire and are slightly envious of their status amongst the leadership team. FDs never seem to struggle with impact and gravitas at the Board. They are pretty good at saying ‘no’ in ways that doesn’t seem to annoy our colleagues as much as when we do it. They are typically great at presenting a coherent argument based on intelligent data and analysis.

‘It’s not you, it’s me’

It’s time to make our relationship with the Finance team a bit healthier and, as in real life, it’s about changing our attitude, not theirs. And the first thing we need to do is to stop trying to BE them.

For too long, we have tried to compensate for our lower status in the hierarchy by copying them. We have adopted their language, for example. We use terms like ‘human capital’ or ‘FTE’s’. We talk about employees being our greatest ‘assets’. We even have our own ‘asset registers’ of people data where we list things like, how many we have, what they’re costing us, and their productivity, in terms of absenteeism rates and churn. But ‘assets’ are things like buildings or computers. We, in HR deal with human beings – beautiful, wonderful, frustrating, mercurial human beings. All of whom are different to one another, who have different needs and wants and who are essentially, unpredictable. Talking about them as assets undermines the complexity and value of our people.

It also means we don’t give our leaders the insights into their people that might help them make better decisions. Churn rates are relatively meaningless in the way we present them. If we are going to copy anyone, we could adopt the approaches used by our Marketing colleagues. Adapting techniques like consumer persona for our employees for example or using a blend of qualitative and quantitative measures to tell a strong and compelling narrative about how our people feel and might be persuaded to change their mindsets and behaviours. We need our own language – one that isn’t filled with finance-like words but which reflect the very different – and human – nature of our work.

You either believe people matter or you don’t

One of the most frequent requests we get from HR professionals is access to data that will help them convince their leaders that it’s worth doing things differently. For example, data that proves offering flexibility will improve engagement. Or proof that getting rid of ratings will improve performance. Or to quantify the ROI on our training investments. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t evaluate what we do. But as the polarisation in the current vaccine debate shows us – data rarely convinces people to change their behaviour. We often find that asking for ‘data as proof’ is usually a way for leaders to put off making a decision or to camouflage their fear of change.

People are not as easy to measure as revenue or profit growth. It is incredibly hard to provide proof on people issues. Instead of trying to compile data that’s bound to be ignored or refuted – we need to appeal to our leaders’ common sense, their own relationships and experiences and the feedback from their own people. Take individual annual bonuses as an example. There’s a ton of data and research that shows individual bonuses fail to either motivate or drive the collaborative behaviours we need today. None of this has made the slightest difference to leaders’ preference for them. If we use scenarios, stories, compelling evidence from our people themselves – we might start to have more of an impact.

As I get older … and probably more impatient with leaders who aren’t prepared to acknowledge that people leadership needs to change… I am increasingly of the view that you either ‘get’ the people stuff – or you don’t. If we spent more time hiring and promoting leaders who ‘get it’ and less time trying to find proof for the ones who don’t – maybe we’d stand more of a chance!

Rather than trying to be as credible as the finance team by copying their language and approach, HR can build our credibility by being deliberately different. We will have a stronger and more powerful voice if we own our role as the people experts. We can do so much better than being a second-rate finance partner. We should stand proud as HR – the experts on human beings.

With the race for top talent growing by the minute, every organisation is rethinking their approach to how they currently attract prospective employees. You can use the multiple touch points in the candidate journey to help you create an outstanding candidate experience. 

1. Welcome them with a smashing careers page- If their first visit to your careers page doesn’t ‘wow’ them, then it’s unlikely they’ll go through with applying for a role. Put your careers page to work with eye-catching design, useful resources, employee stories and what benefits you have to offer. Here’s a great example from the team at Booking.com.

2. Jazz up your job post- When you begin to read a job advert, does it fill you with excitement? Well, that rarely seems to be the case! Candidates spend an average of 14 seconds looking at a job description before deciding whether to apply. If you want to create a compelling advert, then consider re-wording your job descriptions to showcase the personality of your company.

3. Be transparent – How often do we provide our candidates with all the information they need right at the get go? Almost never! Prioritise transparency at every stage to establish trust and help build relationships right from the start. For example, publish the expected salary or salary range like Glitch so a candidate can understand whether a job will be financially viable for them or provide a step-by-step guide on your careers site like Procter & Gamble with details of different types of assessments they may need to complete, how long it will take and how soon they’re likely to hear back from the recruiting team. 

4. Simplify your application process – On average candidates spend 3-4 hours on submitting one job application! No one these days has the patience for lengthy application processes so work on making yours more simple. Consider how Userlane simplified and humanised their hiring process by constructing their applications like conversations though the use of Typeform. 

5. Acknowledge receipt of applications – This sounds like such a simple thing to do and yet a majority of organisations rarely do it. If you consider the time and effort a candidate has put into applying for a role with you, then it’s imperative to take the time to send an acknowledgement. And as that can be automated nowadays, there’s even less reason to not be doing it! 

6. Use technology to improve the user experience – Use tools that will help you automate routine tasks – saving you time and improving the user experience for your candidates. For example, PwC started using technology that sends a calendar to candidates showing the times interviewers are available for a virtual interview. Once candidates schedule their time on that same calendar, PwC’s software sends them information and tips for the interview.

7. Shake up your selection process – Rethink your selection process so you can begin to look beyond educational qualifications, years of experience and sector-specific skills. For example, consider presenting candidates with ‘real life scenarios’ to test their skills like McKinsey & Company. 

8. Ask for feedback – To show the candidate that their experience and opinion matters, ask for feedback at the end of the process. Nothing long or complicated, just one or two questions that will give you useful data to help you make any necessary changes to your process. For example, Citrix uses the Net Promoter Score metric to measure candidate experience after an onsite interview via an email containing a single question. 

9. Build the working relationships and skills of your hiring managers and recruiters – There’s nothing worse than spending all that effort to create a wonderful candidate journey if the people involved in the process aren’t supported to lead the change. Help your hiring managers and recruiters build a healthy working relationship and provide them with resources and training to upskill them so they are better prepared.

10. Give feedback LinkedIn research shows that 94% of candidates want to hear feedback after an interview – and they’re four times more likely to consider a future opportunity with your company if offered constructive feedback. Send a gentle nudge to your hiring manager reminding them to provide honest and constructive feedback the next time they are interviewing someone. 

Final top tip…. Constantly build and update your talent pool- There is no reason to wait for a vacancy to arrive before you start your hunt for the ideal candidate. Spend time consistently building your talent pipeline and build relationships with them so they are ready to join you when the need arises.

Join the Disruptive HR Club, a global online network for training, practical tips.and all the very latest trends in HR.

Ask Google the definition of probation and this is what comes up …. ‘the release of an offender from detention, subject to a period of good behaviour under supervision.’

It’s interesting isn’t it that we spend a lot of money recruiting someone, try really hard to create a great initial experience for them – to make them feel welcomed – and then put them into this probation period which has such negative connotations?

When we mention this to people in HR – they often laugh say ‘OMG. I hadn’t thought of it like that?!’ But then when they reflect on it, they will remember how nervous employees are when their end of probation interview is coming up and how relieved they are when they are told they’ve passed it. They see that we really do put them under this threat of expulsion, and that the sword of Damocles can hang there for up to 6 months! This can’t be the experience we want to create for them is it?

I think there are a couple of other issues with probation periods.

We often offer people a job and expect them to leave their company where they have things like private health care or a decent notice period – and then we bring them in on worse terms than their new colleagues, without these perks – until they have proven themselves. We do this because if we’ve made a mistake and the person joining us doesn’t work out, then we want to reduce our exposure in terms of costs.

But what we’re doing – and this is very typical of HR – we are designing our processes to protect our organisation from the minority of people who will behave badly. Applying this lowest common denominator approach is always going to create a poor and frustrating experience for the vast majority who will behave well.

Fortunately, we’re seeing a welcome trend in the removal of probation periods.

If you’re thinking about doing this, a useful exercise is to look back over the last couple of years and identify the number of people who were fired during their probation period. I bet it will be a tiny percentage of the number of people you have recruited. A client of ours did this – and out of their 10,000 staff – only two a year didn’t get through their probation. So, they simply dropped the qualifying period. They said it made no difference to their costs but created a much more appealing offer when they were recruiting people.

Another company, Babcock, challenged the idea of a ‘qualifying period’ where you have to earn the company’s trust before you can get the same treatment as your colleagues. They looked at their policy for sick pay as a result of the crisis and now allow new staff to take full company sick pay from their start date.

PwC have removed the probationary period in relation to flexible working. They say “We don’t have the mantra that you have to be here a certain amount of time before you have flexibility or that you have to earn it. You have to trust your employees from the day they walk in the door. That’s why you hired them.’

Of course, you may want to still acknowledge that the first few weeks or months is a period of time when both you, the employer – and your new recruit – are finding out about each other and building your relationship. But why not frame it differently and call it ‘the settling in period’ or ‘the getting to know each other period’. Positioning it this way prompts HR to provide managers with tools to help them better understand their new hire like they do at LinkedIn, rather than a pass/fail checklist.

If we are going to create a positive experience for our new hires and make it attractive for them to leave their current employer, then abolishing probation periods is a good place to start.

Organisations across the world are sitting up and taking notice of what steps they can take towards creating an inclusive culture where everyone can do the best work of their lives. We’ve put together a few tips and an example of a Head of Diversity job spec to help you get started.

Let’s start by summarising the new approaches to Diversity & Inclusion:

Here is an example Job Spec for a Head of Diversity

Job spec – Head of Diversity

A tremendous opportunity to play a part in developing the diversity, inclusion, and engagement roadmap that allows everyone at (name your company) to achieve their full potential and grow without boundaries. 

We are looking for a passionate individual to design and deliver our Diversity strategy and to help us evolve our inclusive culture.

Outcomes for the role:

The person we’re looking for:

For more training and practical ideas on D&I check out The Disruptive HR Club