Monday 30 November 2009

Developing your 2010 Human Capital / Talent / Workforce / HR Strategy & Plan


I’ve previously posted on my Human Capital Management Strategy, Talent Management Strategy and Workforce Planning processes, but I haven’t written about how these processes can be combined.  This is partly because doing so may seem a little nit picking (these terms are generally used indistinguishibly).  But I believe the differences are important (according to Peter Cheese’ data, organisations that score in the top quartile of business results score an average of 3.4 for maturity of Human Capital Strategy, compared to just 1.8 for those organisations in the bottom quartile).

And although I have a lot of time for InfoHRM and their Workforce Planning process that I described in my last but one post (remember that I tend to be most critical over areas that I largely agree with), I think HCM Strategy involves more – and provides more benefit.

For InfoHRM, WFP is the maths behind Demand –Supply = Gap.   And HCM Strategy is about the actions taken to deal with the gap:



It’s all very well thought through.  But for me,  HCM Strategy is about the type of place an organisation wants to become.  It’s a higher level of strategy / planning than WFP and needs to come first if an organisation is going to maximise the value it gains from its people:


Human Capital Planning

This is about choosing the sort of human capital or organisational capability that’s going to make a difference to a particular organisation; doing a diagnosis of the current level of capital; working out how it can be best created and setting objectives for this (in the top row in the HCM Value Matrix).

It’s about deciding on the type of place an organisation wants to become; what it wants to provide to its people; what sort of people it needs and what it needs its people to deliver etc.  And it’s a vital step in meeting Richard Boyatzis’ challenge about accumulating rather than liquidating human capital which I think is essential is an organisation is going to create value and provide competitive advantage through their people.

It doesn’t need to be performed every year necessarily but I’d suggest it should when facing major changes in the environment such as the one we seem to be entering at the moment ie recession to jobless growth.

Note that I’ve put Human Capital Planning at the same level of business planning in my slide, above to emphasise that the business plan should be informed by the Human Capital Plan as well as the other way around.

Another important aspect of my approach is that the focus of energy is inside the organisation – on the things the organisation can already do well and can be developed into differentiators (ie its mojo / organisational capability)



Talent Planning

This process is about identifying the talent groups that require particular attention within the strategy.   These people may be high performers (‘A’ players), but they may be other people / groups too (see my last post on differentiation).

One important part of this process is the identification of Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) for each of these groups.

This is a really vital step in HCM strategy development, and lies at the heart of the Human Capital Strategist programme that I deliver for the Human Capital Institute (in UK and Europe).  I also think Dick Beatty describes its value well.  But I believe it needs to come after Human Capital Planning as the identification of talent groups needs to be informed by organisational capability, not just critical business processes.  But it needs to come before Workforce Planning because the identification of talent is an input, allowing WFP to focus on what’s really important, rather than an output of this process.  (There may however need to be some iteration of this, for example if WFP throws up critical constraints in the supply of various groups which then may also need to be considered to be talent).


Workforce Planning

This process is about a more granular level of planning, diagnosis and strategy development, and as much as possible should be data based.  (I don’t believe you need to get into numbers earlier on in the human capital strategy development process, and I’ve been involved in several cases where doing so has obscured rather than clarified strategy making.)



HR Planning 

Another input into Workforce Planning is more traditional HR Planning.  This looks at how people can be used as Human Resources to help meet an organisation’s mission, BHAGs, business plans and objectives.  It leads to the setting of objectives in the middle row (adding value) in the HCM Value Matrix.

It’s it at this level that HR needs to be business first, HR second (at the left-hand side of the slide, I think we need to be HCM professionals first).



HR Process Planning

The third level of planning looks at HR processes and how these can be improved, based on best practice, benchmarking etc (rather than how these fit the particular needs of the organisation).  These requirements become objectives in the bottom row (value for money) in the HCM Value Matrix.



Scorecard Development

At each level of Human Capital Planning, Talent Planning and Workforce Planning, an organisation should develop then iterate objectives for their HCM Strategy.  Once they’ve completed this analysis it makes sense to develop measures to support these objectives.  This process provides an HCM Scorecard based upon the HCM Value Matrix.




InfoHRM note that scenarios help manage change and risk by developing alternative views of the future based on events outside the organisation’s control.   This helps the organisation rehearse how it might adapt to future events today (what if?).

I agree with the importance of scenario planning but believe it needs to start at the beginning of the strategy development process (ie in Human Capital Planning) and be iterated at all three levels




Note, whenever I work with organisations this process ends up looking very different from the one I’ve described here.  I’m not actually a big supporter of methodologies, at least in this sort of area.

But the process I’ve described is the ideal one I’ll have at the back of my mind when I’m talking to a potential or new client.  And we’ll then develop something that will work best for the particular client based upon this insight, but also the client’s particular strategies, external environment, internal context etc.






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Sunday 29 November 2009

Differentiation for Workforce Planning


   In her session on workforce planning at Starbucks, Lacey All talked about the need to ensure resources are deployed against pivotal roles and key talent segments in order to remain flexible in responding to current and future business innovation demands,

Well, I’d understand it if you feel I’ve done the these of workforce differentiation to death, but I think it’s one of the most important issues in strategic people management today.  As Row Henson from Oracle mentioned in her session on Measuring Performance (quoting Dave Ulrich) the value of top performers can be 12 times the performance of average employees.  So I hope you’ll let me dwell on it a bit longer.


I recently wrote my 5th post on Dick Beatty’s Differentiated Workforce (this is my 6th).

In general, Dick’s presentation made me feel a lot more positive about his approach.

  • Rather than linking strategic / A roles to critical business processes, he focused much more on ‘capabilities’ as the basis for identifying talent groups.  I thought this was much more positive because it means he is putting the overall shape of the organisation ahead of talent by itself.  This is my approach as well – identifying and investing disproportionally in talent is often going to be an important aspect of HCM strategy, but not, in my view, as important as differentiating the organisation as a whole.  [Note however, that although Dick uses the word ‘capabilities’ he says himself that he really means ‘core competencies’.  I believe that 'true ‘organisational capabilities’ provide a much sounder base for HCM strategy so I tend to start with these.]
  • Dick also showed how capabilities and therefore strategic roles differ across organisations within a sector (Nordstrom and CostCo).  This was an omission in Beatty’s book (at least I couldn’t see it) and one of my major concerns, as I couldn’t see how the approach was differentiating if all organisations within a sector had the same strategic roles!


However, I still have concerns, including:

  • I don’t believe differentiation is necessarily the right approach all of the time (eg organisations with a capability of inclusivity).
  • I don’t believe that differentiation always needs to focus on A roles and A people.  Pivotal talent are another quite possible option for example.  [Row Henson again (lifting from John Boudreau this time): "Who's the most pivotal person at a Walt Disney resort?" she asked. "I'd argue it's the man or woman who sweeps the streets at the end of the day. These won't be top performers in the classical sense of the word, but they are pivotal because, if the resort is dirty, customers won't want to return."]
  • I don’t agree that organisations which do differentiate as Dick Beatty suggests should deliberately search out C candidates for C roles.  I’m with Jack Welch – you want to raise the calibre of the whole organisation – including A, B and C roles / people.
  • When you do have people working in C roles (that you’ve not yet made leave the organisation), I’d suggest you still need to focus on raising their capabilities and performance.  I don’t agree that you should deny them feedback or as Row Henson suggested, have ‘a list of people not to develop’.  I don’t believe that doing this would allow you to invest any more time or resources in supporting people in A roles / A people.  It’s just going to mean putting even more time into looking after, correcting the mistakes etc of the C players who don’t know how they can improve.


So, organisations that want to differentiate themselves (and doing so is pretty fundamental to gaining competitive advantage through human capital), have to ask themselves a number of questions (* although of course they can also ask for my help! *), including:

  • How are they going to differentiate themselves, ie what organisational capabilities are they going to develop?
  • Which talent groups support this differentiation, and how can they best define these?
  • How can they best support each of of these groups differently?
    • See the following slide from Peter Cheese, ex-Accenture, from his presentation on talent management at the CIPD conference:



In dealing with the second bullet point above, it’s useful to know that talent can be defined in a number of different ways:

  • Key people
  • Key roles
  • Key people in key roles (Beatty)
  • Pivotal talent (Boudreau)
  • Scarce talent (from workforce planning)


  • And based upon a range of other factors, including individual talents’ demographics and perspectives (a true HCM strategy will differentiate according to their talents’ needs, rather than their own) – see another of Peter Cheese’s slides:



(Note that for Cheese, using Beatty’s approach isn’t pushing the envelope or leading edge, but is merely typical of what happens today (if done in a rather more sophisticated way).


What do you make of all that?

            Are you differentiating your organisation through your workforce?

                        And are you differentiating it in the most optimal way?





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Saturday 28 November 2009

Lacey All, Starbucks on Workforce Planning

   I’m finishing off posting on the CIPD conference with some notes on future human capital / talent / workforce planning.  But before I bring this all together, I want to do a short review of the session on workforce planning from Starbucks’ Lacey All.  Partly because I thought it was an excellent presentation of a great case study (and Lacey hadn’t even had any coffee!), but mainly because workforce planning does fill a central role within human capital planning.

I think I4CP explained this role quite well in their recent post claiming that workforce planning Is the ‘missing link’ for HR – helping to combine the business strategy and HR strategy:

“If your bead on the future is looking blurry these days, you're not alone. The global recession has thrown off a lot of organizations' expectations and predictions. So, it's little wonder that many are now striving to do a much better job of strategic planning for the future, especially in the area of talent.”


And at the conference, Peter Howes from InfoHRM explained how workforce planning can assist organisations to better manage within this new economy:

  • Replaces a reactive approach (reduce headcount across the board, cut labour costs by x%) with more precise interventions
  • Decisions are based on clearer understanding of critical factors and relationships –in effect, a ‘risk audit’
  • Which roles or jobs have biggest business impact?
  • Which will be hardest to fill internally and externally in the future? Which have the steepest or longest learning curve?
  • Which skills and competencies will become increasingly or decreasingly valuable to future performance?
  • Which talent segments need to be protected as feeder pools?
  • Organisations can model alternative scenarios to compare long-term consequences for talent supply.


In her presentation, All explained that their approach to workforce planning doesn’t attempt to be the same thing for everyone, but consists of a number of activities ranging from operational to more strategic:

  • Retail forecast tools
  • Dashboard analytics
  • Ad-hoc analysis
  • Environmental scanning



  • Talent segments
  • Pivotal roles
  • Planning workshops
  • Action planning and progress monitoring.


The focus on retail here is about this being the area which will differentiate Starbucks’ brand and create a competitive advantage.


I thought the most interesting part of the session was the outline of Starbuck’s planning workshops.

In these sessions, leadership teams consider:

  • The environmental scanning reports shown above (what affects my workforce?)
  • The current state (where am I now?)
  • No change future state (where am I heading if everything remains the same?)
  • Scenario planning (what’s my ideas vision given different operating climates?)
  • Targeted future (what is my targeted or likely future?)
  • Action planning (how do I get there?)
  • Setting up progress monitoring (is my plan right?, am I on track?).


A key issue at the moment is understanding ghost turnover – and predicting how many people will leave post the recession.

Some of the external factors the teams look at include:

  • Demise of a Competitor
  • Unionization of Workforce
  • Distribution Optimization
  • Process Teams don’t have the right capabilities
  • Full Automation of Production Lines
  • Failure to open 5th Roasting Plant at 75 mm pounds
  • Store of the future.


Although workforce planning is often closely linked to workforce analytics (particularly when considering the current state / supply of the workforce), All stressed that lack of data (outside the US) doesn’t stop them doing workforce planning, and that the process is as much art as it is science.

The outputs of the planning workshops are solutions to close critical gaps in the future workforce.


All useful stuff – so why aren’t many organisations doing this (and why were so many people walking out during such an excellent presentation?).

Actually, the situation may not be that bad – I4CP notes that the use of workforce planning is trending upward. About 70% of the respondents to their survey said that they are doing some form of workforce planning in their organisations today, and 43% of those who are not doing it now plan on implementing this process in the future.  But that doesn't mean that most companies are doing it well:

“There are three types of workforce planning: operational, tactical and strategic. While most organizations with WFP are highly engaged in short-term operational workforce planning - which includes actions such as headcount forecasting and staffing requisitions - relatively few are highly engaged in long-term strategic workforce planning, which includes actions such as business planning, needs assessments and scenario creation.”

If you want to gain more of the benefits that Starbucks are clearly getting, you may want to review:





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Friday 27 November 2009

Richard Boyatzis on Talent Innovation


   OK, last few posts to wrap up my posting from the CIPD conference (what will I post on without it?).  And all these posts are going to focus on planning for the future.  Some of them are about talent, some about workforce, and I’ll also be throwing human capital into the mix.

But I want to start this process by looking at the need to bring more innovation into the planning.

In the CIPD’s introduction to the session ‘Fighting back through Talent Innovation’, Claire McCartney summarised research finding that 26% of organisations have been forced to change their approach to talent management as a result of the downturn (so 74% have not?).

Some of the positive practices adopted include:

  • Developing more talent in-house (55%)
  • Focusing on essential development (45%)
  • Continuing to recruit key talent (43%)
  • Increased focus on employee retention (35%)
  • Reducing reliance on recruitment agencies (34%)
  • Talent management practices unaffected (30%)
  • Downsizing while preserving key talent (25%)
  • Initiating a recruitment freeze (23%)
  • Use of new media / technology to recruit (22%)
  • Recruiting talent discarded by competitors (11%)
  • Downsizing and having to let key talent go (just 3%).


The way these practices are being performed has also seen some interesting innovation:

  • Partner with other organisations
  • Increase your profile and brand
  • Keep talent warm for future
  • Where appropriate acquire talent from competitors
  • Set-up leadership exchange groups
  • Build talent assessment capabilities in-house
  • Focus on critical experiential based learning
  • Ask for innovative business suggestions by talent pools
  • Build a sense of community
  • Provide support for stretch assignments
  • Target employees for specific career paths
  • Maximise funding opportunities for skill development
  • Streamline and improve talent schemes
  • Increase focus on talent performance, engagement and retention.


There are some good ideas in here, although I’m surprised by the ones which are missing.  For example, judging from a recent ITT I received, the CIPD still seems to think that organisations are focusing on an inclusive (everyone is talent) rather than exclusive approach to talent management.  My recent experience suggests the opposite – that organisations are being more exclusive and defining talent groups more tightly (I’m not necessarily sure that’s always the right approach but that’s another thing – see my forthcoming posts on Dick Beatty – again).

You can read about other innovative suggestions throughout this blog.


The CIPD concludes that ROI coming under more scrutiny in an economic downturn means that cost-effective talent management becomes more not less important.  This is supported by the session’s case studies, including Stephanie Oerton from National Express who notes that the downturn has provided opportunities to:

  • Get closer to the business
  • Discover talents within the team that may have not been discovered
  • Involve a wider range of people in development
  • Increase appetite for development from within the business
  • Develop stronger relationships with Business Leaders.


As far as this post is concerned, the important thing is that organisations are going to have to adapt innovatively again as things pick up next year (fingers crossed) – see this slide from Peter Cheese (ex-Accenture):




And organisations that are going to maximise the opportunities this growth will provide need to plan for this now.


Boyatzis on Talent Innovtion

You’ll have probably noticed that I called this post ‘Richard Boyatzis on Talent Innovation’ and I’ve not introduced Boyatzis yet.

Well, one thing I wanted to note, in connection to the ongoing need to innovate, is that we need to innovate our paradigms as well as our activities.  It’s great to see the innovative practices I’ve described above, but there’s much more we can do.  And it’s much easier to do this if we approach the opportunity with a different, innovated mindset.

And as I was walking briefly around the exhibition I cam across a new book from Mercer called Creating Value through People (I was attracted to it as this is the sub-title of my own book).  It’s a series of interviews with various leaders and writers, and one of these is with Dr Richard Boyatzis (ah, finally!).

Explaining the concept of the ‘talent innovator’, Boyatzis notes:

“The reason we need leaders and managers is to co-ordinate the efforts of others and to use capital in an organisation to achieve the organisation’s objectives and mission. When you take that general concept, you realise that the responsibility of leaders is to utilise and create capital. There are lots of ways to describe that. But the ones I like the best focus on financial, physical, intellectual, human, and social capital.

Now, I think we would all agree that if executives spent all their money on current performance it would be irresponsible. Organisations have to be concerned with the future. So, we would have to think that the job of an executive is to get current performance and long-term sustainable performance. To do that requires using capital now but also investing it in the future. This applies to human capital, too. The problem is that most of the time when people think about managing talent they immediately go to, how do I motivate people? How do I get the maximum performance from people? That frames the problem in a very short-term context.

As a result, almost everybody who is trying to manage talent is actually liquidating it. What I mean is that they are expending most of their organisation’s human capital on current performance. Let me give you an example. One of my doctoral students is trying to come up with what I call a human resource profit and loss statement and a human resource balance sheet. The problem with existing measures like the balanced scorecard is that while they are moving in the right direction, they get it wrong because they look at almost everything in terms of financial measures. Human capital shouldn’t be measured in financial terms. It should be measured differently, in human capital terms. My point is that we should approach the management of talent with the notion that you should manage human capital so it is greater at the end of the year than it was at the beginning of the year because you’re investing in it.”


This strikes me as a very powerful argument for innovating our attitudes – putting long-term talent / human capital needs ahead of, or at least at an equal level of importance to short-term business process / customer / financial needs, and growing out of the recession by growing our talent and human capital.  You’ll see more of this thinking in my suggestions for our talent / workforce / human capital plans.

(As an aside, you may also be able to see links between the points I’ve put in bold above to other things I’ve been blogging about recently.)





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Thursday 26 November 2009

CIPD Conference: Measures and Metrics


   In her CIPD conference session on Measuring Performance, Row Henson from Oracle quoted Haig Nalbantian and Colleen O’Neill from Mercer as explaining:

“Visionary HR first must clarify what an organization’s work force needs to become, and then must build a blueprint of the necessary capabilities and actions.”


I totally support this, in fact I’ve just posted on pretty much exactly the same thing.

But Nalbantian goes on:

“These steps depend on an employer’s ability to find new information showing how HR initiatives do or do not fuel the organization’s objectives.”


No they don’t!

Yes, of course, having measures and metrics help present the case (don’t they Yuvarajah!)  But in the main, organisations manage people so terribly badly (oh no? – what are your employees’ engagement levels like then?) that you don’t need information to see the opportunities forward.  You need insight, passion, ambition, creativity, yes.  But measures – not necessarily.

Henson encouraged participants to:

STOP saying: “I think… I feel”

START saying: “I know… I can prove”

SHIFT: From tangible to intangible asset accounting.


Mmmm.  Well, I’ve got nothing against being able to prove things – when it’s possible.  But quite a lot of the time, it’s not.  And I think that we also need to influence our business colleagues to be yet more comfortable with thinking and feeling.  We’re often dealing with ambiguity, and thoughts and feelings, as well as numbers, give us insights into what we’re dealing with.  Don’t dismiss them.

As for intangible asset accounting, I think this is a red herring.  I explain why in my book.


I’m in a minority view here, I know.  According to Henson’s slide on data from the Corporate Leadership Council, 60% of HR executives say that better aligning metrics to their corporate strategy is their top priority, and 84% say that spend on HR metrics is going to grow over the next 5 years.

My minority perspective is why I didn’t go to any of the conference sessions on measurement.  But it looks as if I did miss a few interesting things.


For example, I’ve always respected Anthony Hesketh’s views on HR (and he also wrote an endorsement for my book).


Hesketh’s new contribution to the field is a measure called Return on Invested Talent (ROIT). This is:

Operating Profit + Employee Costs + Depreciation + Amortisation

                           Employee Costs + Depreciation


I’m going to come back and write more about this later once I’ve had a chance to look in more detail at this (by the way Anthony, well done on your HROA Thought Leader of the Yearaward!).

So what else did I miss?

Well, it’s always impressive to see the sophistication of RBS’ measurement system:



The question of course (well, it’s my question, although I don’t think it was asked at the conference), is how well did the company’s measurement help them navigate this year’s crisis?, and the answer’s obviously not much!.

So my take-way is the need to align measures with a company’s strategy.

I think Enterprise Rent-A-Car has got the point.  In her presentation, Donna Miller described Enterprise’s key metrics:

  • Cost per hire
  • Cost per source of hire
  • Hires per recruiter
  • 120 day retention
  • Retention
  • By position
  • By location
  • By length of service
  • Engagement scores


She then explained how these have been generated from the organisation’s strategy, including the employee value proposition, the brand, the value of the HR department and improving business performance.

And in her presentation, Tricia Raymant showed how the Royal Mail has chosen:

Metrics (1. Headcount vs plan 2. Redundancy costs vs plan 3. No. redeployments 4. Time to redeploy 5. % vacancies filled internally vs externally 6. Time to fill vacancies 7. % critical vacancies 8. % critical roles with successors 9. Retention Rates 10. No. Staff hours contracted 11. No. overtime hours and costs)

which relate to:

Critical customer / business requirements (1. No more than 1% of critical roles are vacant at any one time. 2. Employees are redeployed within 60 working days. 3. Vacancies are filled by employees seeking redeployment wherever possible. 4. Vacancies are filled within 40 days 5. Overtime accounts for no more than 10% staff costs).

which relate to

Business challenges ( To reduce staff costs by 10%  To redeploy 20% of the workforce - To have the right people in the right place at the right time but to reduce overall staff costs).


And they are then able to report on metrics which support these business challenges:




Maybe not so sophisticated but hopefully more useful?

For an even more useful approach, see my post on my HCM Value Chain, wrapping up my current series on HR measurement (postponed by the InfoHRM and then the CIPD conference), hopefully very early on next month.


Other HR measurement posts from earlier in the series include:





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Wednesday 25 November 2009

The trials of independent working


lemming   I thought you deserve a break from my posts about the CPD conference (I’ve just got a few last ones to do).  So…

I was talking to someone last night about the pros and cons of working independently.

Most of the time I love what I do, but I do sometimes yearn to be back in an organisation – just to extend the impact of my contribution, and quite frankly, to make life a little bit easier too.

Take IT – I’ve had so many problems with my laptop this year, and each one can easily write off a day to sort out.

My latest hassle is with my website and email hosting.  Bluhalo, which designed the site (, not this blog which is with Blogger / Google) are ‘transferring’ my service .  They told me about a year ago and I told them who I wanted it transferred to (GoDaddy, who already host my Social Advantage site and email).  Things have been a bit delayed (largely because I’ve had to pay them some extra money I didn’t think I should have needed to) and it now transpires, a few days before they are going to switch me off, that ‘transferring’ means just that – switching it off:


Dear Jon

Further to your recent conversations with Kelly, I am getting in touch to arrange the migration of your services with Bluhalo to your new hosting provider. I can see from your letter which accompanies your completed transfer form that you would like us to actually set up the website and emails on your new servers.

Unfortunately we are unable to do this but listed below is all the information that you will need in order to for you, your new hosting company or another third party to do this for you.

We host the domain name, email addresses and website for the

Domain name

The domain name has been unlocked and is ready to transfer. You will need the following authorisation code for the transfer:

Email Addresses

We have the following email addresses set up on our servers:


You can download a copy of your website directly from our servers using these details, in order that you can upload it to your new web hosting services:

Kind regards


Bluhalo Ltd

The Hub
Fowler Avenue
Farnborough GU14 7JP



They call it migration, but I think they’re thinking of lemmings, rather than wildebeest here!

I’ve pointed it out to them that they’re the ones ‘transferring’ me, not the other way around (I’m not large enough for them apparently), but it’s not made any difference – they’ve not got the manpower to help me.

Great.  So I’m cancelling my meetings for tomorrow, and will get to learn some more thrilling information about website hosting instead.  I just hope you’ll still be able to contact me via email { jon  [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com } come December!



More on developing a culture of…


Abbey slide   Now we know how to develop culture, there’s still one important question remaining – why should we want to?

Earlier this year, I participated in a debate with from Michael Bungay Stanier of Box of Crayons in Training Zone.  Michael suggests that organisations shouldn’t create a coaching culture:

'We're going to create a coaching culture' is a commonly proclaimed goal, with some leader filled with visions of coaching reinventing life and work in that organisation.

But coaching alone is not always able to miraculously drive change, improve performance, increase happiness, make money and lift the level of engagement in an organisation. Coaching is a powerful tactic that is best used to support and achieve a specific business objective.

The focus on a 'coaching culture' runs the danger of confusing the means for the end, and it is a lack of context – why exactly do I need to use coaching? – that can undermine any attempts to get managers coaching. Commitment and engagement with coaching works best when there are two levels of context.

The first is the business context, and we've found that enhancing coaching skills works best when it's serving a specific business purpose – for instance, building team resilience before a corporate re-branding and re-organisation, increasing key customer retention or reducing the churn of front-line sales staff.

The second is a personal context, or more bluntly: how will this help me and my work? Getting managers to see how coaching can be not just another thing to add to the to-do list, but rather a way of actually reducing their own workload while increasing the focus on their own 'great work' builds the likelihood of it being a tool that’s used. Context allows managers to see coaching as a support and a solution – and not just the latest HR trend.”



To me, its just the reverse – in today’s fast changing world, it is only by creating a culture of [or more accurately, social capital in] coaching, innovation, leadership, or whatever it is, that an organisation has a chance to become and remain successful:

“Coaching for it's own sake - just because you think it's trendy, or because company X is doing it - is clearly not going to take you anywhere.

So in this sense, I support your desire to see a clear business focus and benefit for coaching activities.

However, I also think that coaching can have transformational outcomes which are often unknowable in advance.

This is the benefit that a coaching culture provides - it will help unleash everyone's, or at least talent's (depending on how extensively it's applied) potential.

Some of this may help meet current business goals. But it may also help go beyond these goals and help uncover new business opportunities (it's what I mean when I talk about creating value - ( ).

Organisations may loose considerable potential advantages for creating value through their people if they dismiss the opportunity out of hand.”



The point is described in the slide from Abbey that’s shown above: people drive the business.  More (of the right) talent equals more results.

I also like this quote taken from Sherman and Freas in Jane Turner’s presentation on coaching cultures:

“When you create a culture of coaching, the result may not be directly measurable in dollars. But we have yet to find a company that can’t benefit from more candour, less denial, richer communication, conscious development of talent and disciplined leaders who show compassion for people.”


Of course, as I explained in my last post, no organisation can do everything, so they need to pick and choose.  Some nice-to-have’s like coaching may be left off the list in order to include other must-have’s like innovation (the choice being dependent on the organisation, its strategy, context etc).  But once you’ve decided what’s going to make the difference, just do it.  Don’t wait to pin down some specific needs, or until you’ve calculated a potential ROI.  Just do it.

Make it happen.





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Tuesday 24 November 2009

More from the CIPD conference – developing a culture of…


Lousy T shirt   There were quite a few sessions at the conference about developing a culture of something, eg of:

  • Coaching (Jane Turner, Newcastle Business School)
  • High performance (David Smith, ex-ASDA)
  • Homogeneity in a global context (Mark Adams, Abbey / Santander)
  • Innovation (Jaideep Prabhu, University of Cambridge)
  • Integrity (Roger Steare, Cass Business School)
  • Leadership (Anete Jajkowska, Microsoft)
  • Resilience (Rebecca McIntosh and Claire Jelley, also at the University of Cambridge, but internal this time).


However, there wasn’t any linking between sessions these even thought the actions organisations need to take to develop each one of these cultures are largely the same thing!

Basically, there are two or three key steps:


1.    Decide what / how you want to be

Organisations can’t do everything, so the key question is which of the capabilities from the above list are most important for you?  Having a clear BHAG or mojo will make this easier for you.

Describe the required capability in detail – what behaviours and actions will you expect to see when this capability is in place?  This becomes what McIntosh and Jelley referred to as their North Star.

This is, of course, where things between each of the culture types are a bit different, and where some knowledge of the particular type of culture, and what attributes / behaviours support it, is required.

For a culture of innovation for example, Jaideep Prabhu suggests that organisations need three particular attitudes:

  • Future market focus
  • Willingness to cannibalise
  • Tolerance for risk.


Once these three things are in place, innovation should follow.

Actually, I think there’s probably a bit more too it than this ( read my post on Hal Gregersen’s presentation, and listen to the last Talking HR show where I discussed developing innovative cultures with MOK from the Innovation Beehive).


2.   Decide on the actions which are going to lead to the required attitudes (and them do them)

For innovation, Prabhu suggests the following:

  • Product champions
  • Asymmetric incentives
  • Internal markets.


Once again, I think it’s a little more complicated that this!  In fact, it’s the actions Prabhu doesn’t mention, that are common to the development of all these different types of culture that are the most important.

So, what are these?


Hard issues

Well, there are a few ‘hard’ issues, such as getting your ducks in a row, ie linking all of your HR and management activities to the required capability, and then monitoring these activities (see Microsoft’s system model, and people scorecard):





You might even want to produce a few T-shirts?


Soft issues

But the soft areas are the harder ones (if you see what I mean).

David Smith did a good job of describing some of these in connection with ASDA’s journey:

  • Hire for attitude
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Listening
  • Engaging style of management and leadership
  • Remove your underperfomers, push your talent
  • Recognition
  • Fun / buzz and a sense of community.


But I think Roger Steare captured what’s at the heart of changing these soft issues even more accurately.  For him, good behaviour and culture is when:

  • People stop and think
  • People talk about shared values
  • People unite around a common purpose
  • People act fairly for the common good.


Out of these, it’s talking (- particularly about what’s important - see Emmanuel Gobillot’s ‘narratives’) which is at the hear of culture change.  There was a good post on this in Harvard Business / Peter Bregman’s blog How We Work, this Summer.  This put culture change down to the way we tell stories:

"You change a culture with stories. Right now your stories are about how hard you work people. Like the woman you forced to work on her wedding day. You may not be proud of it, but it's the story you tell. That story conveys your culture simply and reliably. And I'm certain you're not the only one who tells it. You can be sure the bride tells it. And all her friends. If you want to change the culture, you have to change the stories.

I told him not to change the performance review system, the rewards packages, the training programs. Don't change anything. Not yet anyway. For now, just change the stories. For a while there will be a disconnect between the new stories and the entrenched systems promoting the old culture. And that disconnect will create tension. Tension that can be harnessed to create mechanisms to support the new stories.”


It emphasises, I think, that much of what we mean when we talk about culture change is actually social capital (which I define as the value of the connections, relationships and conversations taking place between people in an organisation).

And which brings us straight back to the importance of Connectivity again!





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Monday 23 November 2009

Social media in HR - training


   So what do you do if you want to drive up connectivity in your organisation?

Well you may want to run some training for your HR team.  How about a day covering at least some of the following:



  • Introductions and connections


Introducing and reviewing the technologies

  • Interactive session (demonstrating the main publicly available web 2.0 and social networking / social media tools with an opportunity for people with wireless laptops, iphones and blackberries, cameras and video cameras to participate)
    • Participants will be then encouraged to blog, tweet etc through the rest of the workshop


Enterprise 2.0 and the Social Business

  • Web 2.0 in the Enterprise
  • Broader opportunities and requirements – the Social Business
  • HR’s and IT’s roles in the Social Business – why this is a big thing for HR
  • Case studies
  • Discussing opportunities for adding and creating value through collaboration


HR 2.0 – the potential benefits (and legal / other difficulties)

  • Opportunities for using social media within the HR function - social recruitment, onboarding, social learning, career development etc
  • Case studies
  • Comparing employer brands from a social perspective


Action planning

  • Organisational
    • Analysing how your employees are using social media
    • Options for introducing social technologies
    • Developing a social media policy
    • Measuring impact and ROI


  • Individual
    • Personal use of social media tools


Web 2.0 – using the tools

  • A final interactive session using social media to review the use of public and corporate social media tools and to use the tools to capture the main learning points from the workshop



This workshop is available now for you to provide in-house (in the UK or elsewhere).  If you’re interested in attending an open programme on the above (probably only in London, UK), let me know.

For the open programme, I’d also encourage participants to join a social media community set up specifically for the particular conduct of this workshop, in order to facilitate further support and collaboration with other participants.


As background, you may also be interested in:


Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business blogs:


HR 2.0 blogs and podcasts:






Web 2.0 blogs:



I hate doing these types of lists.  What have I left out?




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Sunday 22 November 2009

CIPD conference summary: Connectivity


    Jackie Orme didn’t include this as a theme, but it was certainly one for me.  And I think it builds upon the previous three: transparency, authenticity and sustainability.  And behind this is the fact that we live in a social world – and this came through strongly too

  • In ‘Creating a Resilient Culture’, Rebecca McIntosh and Claire Jelley from the University of Cambridge talked about an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world
  • In ‘Leadershift’, Emmanuel Gobillot suggested that leadership needs to be connected
  • In ‘The Future of Work and Organisations’, Richard Worsley from the Tomorrow Project noted that knowledge is a social activity
  • In ‘Harnessing the Power of Social Media’, Nick Shackleton-Jones explained that learning is largely social too (that information comes with emotional tags)
  • And in ‘Coaching to build Innovative Mindsets’, Nick Jankel from wecreate positioned social collaboration as a basis for innovation.


Social connecting also came up in presentations from:

  • Peter Cheese, ex-Accenture, who referred to nGenera research noting that while only low relationship management competencies are required in a sustaining culture, high levels are needed for transformation
  • Callum Petrie from Philips Electronics, where connecting with employees is seen as a basis for performance (see slide)
  • Kathryn Pritchard and Judy Noonan from iris, for similar reasons
  • Jacky Simmons from TUI, where interrelating is positioned as the centrepiece of an approach to developing organisational resilience.  Interrelating consists of:
    • Connecting across the organisation through the development of strong networks
    • Collaborating by developing shared plans, cooperating and sharing knowledge.


And in his presentation on ASDA, David Smith talked about creating fun / buzz & a sense of community

  • Work made fun gets done
  • Energy is attitude
  • Buzz is infectious
  • Getting more from people by engaging the whole person.


In addition, according to Mark Adams from Santander, collaboration between HR and business represents two thirds of the increase in the effectiveness of talent management.


But probably the most powerful argument for improving connectivity was provided by Andrew Kakabadse from Cranfield in his presentation on the divisions between members of top teams.

Kakabadse’s research suggests that banks knew about the credit problems 15 months before the financial meltdown, but that division, denial and paralysis had become the cultural norm.  More broadly, he suggests that Boards often share few penetrating insights and have little shared view of differentiation and competitive advantage.

If this is the case, how likely will it be that employees will all share one common view?


So what can organisations do to develop greater connectivity and improve collaboration?  I’ve already posted on the role of social media, but there are many other opportunities too.  In his session on organisation design, Andrew Campbell from Ashridge suggested that organisations need to guard against these blockages on collaboration:

  • Unclear objectives
  • Differing objectives or incentives
  • Competition for money, people, promotion, praise
  • Unclear authorities
  • Transfer prices
  • Physical or cultural distances
  • Interfering bosses
  • Control freeks or secrecy.


And in her workshop on ‘Facilitating OD Interventions’, Sylvia Baumgartner suggested that we need to influence group dynamics, particularly as work becomes increasingly situational and less routine.  Appropriate OD interventions include:

  • Diagnostic activities
  • Team-building activities
  • Survey feedback activities
  • Education and training activities
  • Structuring activities
  • Process Consultation activities
  • Third-party mediation activities
  • Competency development
  • Coaching and counselling
  • Life and Career Planning activities
  • Planning and Goal Setting activities
  • Strategic Management activities
  • Organisational Transformation activities
  • Organisational Effectiveness
  • TQM (Total Quality Management)
  • Conversations…..


All of the above issues and activities are things that I deal with on this and my other blog, Social Advantage

It’s why I was rather critical of the session on Next Generation HR.  The rise of connectivity is leading to much bigger changes that those identified there.

These include the social business (enabling organisations to connect with their people) and social HR  / HR 2.0 (the move to facilitating rather than managing HR outcomes).

And it’s also why I was delighted with Shaa Wasmund’s description of me in her tweet:





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  • CIPD conference summary: Sustainability


    Sustainable HR leadership   Sustainability is the last of Jackie’s key themes and follows on directly from the last theme / last post (Morrisons’ point that Everyone’s got talent = sustainable performance).

    At the conference, it came up several times.  Rebecca McIntosh and Claire Jelley from the University of Cambridge referred to Adam Werbach’s definition of sustainability as ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

    It was also addressed by Siobhan Sheridan and colleagues from Defra, and David Benson from Oxfam.

    At Defra, the key actions were:

    • Getting the basics right
    • Using resource flexibly
    • Making policy that works in a consistent way
    • Focussing on customers
    • Engaging staff,


    For Oxfam, it centred on the annual talent process, consisting of workforce planning, succession planning and the identification of high potentials.

    But the session which probably gave it the highest priority was the one from the CIPD on their Next Generation HR report.  Although I didn’t think that much of this, I do completely support the research’s focus on longer-term business sustainability.  Indeed, I’ve been arguing since the very beginning of the recession that organisations can’t afford to allow themselves to become too focused on the short-term.

    And I do like the way the research suggests this focus on sustainable performance means that we need to understand HR leadership differently:

    Operational Excellence is a pre-requisite to everything else. For instance, there is no point developing world class insights into talent management if this is not backed up with excellent processes and delivery. In some organisations, as this implies, there has been a focus on the thinking leadership elements of the HR agenda at the expense of delivery. [Yes, and in some organisations, it’s the reverse – ie good delivery but without enough thinking.]

    Organisational Insight and Influence is all about the function trading on its position at the heart of the business, and being able to see the organisation clearly as a result. HR functions do not therefore simply serve the business, but run a commentary on its current health and effectiveness, and on its fitness for the future.  [I like this – a good example of HR creating value.]

    Some HR functions are also able to play a powerful Organisational Commentary and Guardianship role by looking beyond short term business drivers to the implications of decisions in the medium term. In adopting more balanced positions that take into account the needs of wider stakeholders, they are looking beyond simply the wishes of the current CEO, or the senior team.  [To be this is a necessary part of organisational insight and influence.  HR needs to have a medium to long-term view of the organisation in order to comment independently now.]

    In the past, HR tended to overplay its role as the voice of the employee. Now it is possible that many HR functions overplay their role as partners of the current management regime. [I don’t believe we ever did overdo the employee champion role – it’s just that it wasn’t sufficiently balanced with the business management one.  These aren’t alternatives, both are required.  But the addition which is required now and in the future is an additional,equal focus on human capital / organisational capability.]

    The CIPD suggest that HR functions can drive the medium term sustainability of the business by taking actions like developing a balanced remuneration strategy; challenging decisions that might undermine the long term integrity of the brand; developing processes that challenge inappropriate behaviour at all levels in the business; and defining future leaders differently.

    I think we can do more than this.  The future isn’t just about balancing these competing demands, its about offering a new, more sustainable basis for competitive advantage – one that puts people first, and really does treat people as an organisation’s most important asset.  Yes, it’s human capital management time!




    See my previous posts on Transparency and Authenticity.

    See my other conference posts.


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  • CIPD conference summary: Authenticity


       Authenticity was also at the heart of many of the presentations.

    Rebecca McIntosh and Claire Jelley, working for Indi Seehra at the University of Cambridge explained that authenticity is about substance, being knowledge-led, inner satisfaction, serving others, gratification from sustainability, multi-focus and outcome objectives.  It’s not about style charisma, ego, self-interest or even greed, instant gratification, singe focus or output objectives.

    My favourite presentation in this area was given by Normal Pickavance from Wm Morrison.  Pickavance explained that for Morrisons, authenticity is about dealing with reality as it really is.  It’s not about the ‘Best companies to work for’ criteria!

    And for him, it something that marks the end of an era – the ‘fast company era’, with its associated ‘fast company mindset’ (in which talent is seen as scarce – and can be, and needs to be singled out; in which talent can be bought; and in which talent should and does command a massive premium in rewards) – also see my post on the global reset and differentiation / inclusivity.

    At Morrisons, authenticity is built upon the following four pillars:

    • Authenticity begins with your own people
    • Grow your own people your own unique way
    • Top performance comes when everyone works together
    • Everyone’s got talent = sustainable performance.


    Other organisations seeking to act authentically need to:

    • Be clear about who they are (linking and aligning core capabilities, operations, culture and competence to create a sustainable point of difference)
    • Understand what makes them different (which Helen Rosethorn from Bernard Hodes referred to as their cultural strengths and weaknesses, and Allan Leighton, former CEO at ASDA used to call “the stuff other buggers don’t do”!)
    • Be proud of what they do
    • Consistently align employee and customer experience (being true to themselves)
    • Communicate extensively.



    See my previous post on Transparency.

    See my other conference posts.


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