I’m going to listen to the talent session, or to give its full title: The Workforce Conclave: Creating Sustainable Change through Organizational Alignment and Managing an Increasingly Diverse Workforce. (Snappy!)
The speakers are: Bernard O’Driscoll, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Directors, and formerly Group HR Services Director for Lloyds-TSB, Peter Cheese, Consultant with Accenture and Edward Franco, Global HR specialist with Hewitt. The Chairperson is Bala Mahadeva, CSC President and MD. It’s an excellent session, very well chaired and with three erudite and entertaining speakers. In summary it highlights that talent management is critical to success in our business, so you’ll see lots of book references here.
Bala opens with the question of how you can create commonness of purpose when organisations are increasingly diverse, reflecting back on an earlier session the day before with guru James Champy.
I’ll briefly digress in order to highlight a couple of book references. Champy is one of the founders behind business process reengineering, with Mike Hammer writing the classic “Re-engineering the Corporation”. His most recent book is called “X-Engineering the Corporation, Reinventing Your Business in the Digital Age” and looks at cross organisational process design and collaboration.
Bala developed his argument, commenting that economic power is becoming more globally diffuse while world demographics are creating new stresses in labour supply and demand. Talent Management is increasing as a strategic priority.
This theme is developed further by Peter, talking about types of diversity: generational, educational, social, ethnic, cultural, geographical… and how few employees understand strategic priorities of their organisation. Peter is the co-author of “The Talent Powered Organisation”.
Edward, who is a singularly diverse individual in his own right, provides further illustration to the point. He uses a framework to show that individuals learn their values in childhood, rooted in the family… these values rarely change and are reverted back to in a crisis or stress situation. Overlaid above these are practices, coming from national and organisational culture. Organisational change is based on changing practices, not values. People can mask their values with practices, but Edward argued that it is the understanding of people’s values, and of the cultural differences in values between people that is key to effective talent management – especially in M&A.
Edward then asked, “how do you create a common performance management value system round the world, in a world where different cultures can have radically different values.” He brought this point to life talking about some the west/east cultural differences e.g. in one case understanding right from wrong in the other understanding the honour system - saving face or feeling shame. In some cultures “position”, “face”, “performance scores” will be critically important to an individual, in others money will be a far bigger motivator to attract and retain.
Something that is interesting to us all in Steria was a framework which Edward used to look at Mergers and Acquisitions, looking at how people engage – from early euphoria at the outset of the deal, through a period of uncertainty and as understanding grows the engagement moves to a set of possible outcomes: from the individual’s departure, or withdrawal or commitment. He used the Bill Bridges Framework: The Human Dynamic in Change - and took us through these different stages. The idea is to understand the levers that can be used to identify undesired outcomes to both increase and accelerate the people who move through to be committed to the new, wider organisation.
Peter had delved down in his talk to discuss some of the more detailed points, especially relating to offshoring and India – and Indian demographics. He discussed how Accenture had grown in India from hundreds to 40,000 employees in a matter of a few years. Looking at the classic slide that identifies generational characteristics (Baby Boomers, X-Generation, Y-generation, Net Gens etc), he also noted that this current generation is bigger than the baby boom.
Bernard’s talk complemented Peter’s carrying on the Indian theme by taking a personal view of how major organisations can leverage offshoring to create transformational change in HR. He gave some real insight into the forward thinking within LTSB’s HR operation over many years – winning awards for their shared services centre. What really struck home for me was that when LTSB considered offshoring, the various non-UK players they were reviewing had limited understanding of UK HR – how it worked, policy, terminology etc. So Xansa’s onshore team used their local HR knowledge and expertise to create that high-level credibility. Second, Bernard described that while the work offshored to Xansa has been in the area of HR administration, the result of the process has been transformational. It has allowed the HR Professionals to focus on how HR adds value to the core business of the Bank. And his view was that HR Offshoring can absolutely add strategic value to HR.
The session engendered a huge number of questions and positively overran.