Any good business needs customer feedback. HR is a business, and the leaders and employees are our customers—but as I've highlighted in previous posts, we usually don't think of them as such.
As a result, HR rarely gets the feedback we need to thrive. Leaders and employees are users of our products and services, and they're the ones who can tell us whether products are easy to use and whether services are adding value. Their feedback is how we know whether the cost of products and services measure up to the buyer's satisfaction.
Facing the Lack of Feedback in HR
But as HR practitioners, we get complacent about understanding our customers' needs. We hide behind the litigious regulatory environment with a false sense of security that we can and should mandate work to our organizations to avoid putting the organization at risk. We assign tasks: "Hold meaningful conversations with your employees," "Measure employee performance to make sure they're accountable," and "Develop their skills for growth."
While our customers generally can't fire us, they can grown and complain—and do a mediocre job with tasks that, in reality, are critically important to the success of the business. No organization can afford to simply pay lip service to such important work.
We have to think of the employees and leaders of our organization as our customers if we want them to take this important work seriously.
Alleviating the "Busy-Work" of Leadership
There is another reason to focus on our customers: Today's leaders could easily begin to buckle under the weight of all of the work required of anyone in a management position. When a leader is too busy to lead, we have lost our ability to be competitive as an organization. Anything a leader does should have a clear and defined positive business impact, or else it will seem like busy-work (and fall to the bottom of their to-do list).
Let me give you an example. Because we're HR leaders, we know the organization needs a performance management program, so we source a vendor to build a program that is both cutting edge and affordable. We design it, train it, wrestle with leaders who don't want to do it and then spend our time chasing down completed evaluations.
Let's switch it up.
Start with the business premise: Improved performance will improve the bottom line. We engage leadership in a dialogue about what improvements in performance could/would have the biggest impact on the bottom line. We then agree on 2-3 outcomes, and design a simple process to meet that specific need. We help leaders decide the consequences they would impose for not completing the simple process, and we partner with the Finance department to measure results.
At the end of the first phase, we ask for customer feedback, and share quantitative results and qualitative ideas about how well the jointly designed process worked, and make adjustments based on the results.
Stepping Up to the Proverbial Table
This approach takes courage; it is not for the faint hearted. It means stepping up and saying "HR can make a difference, but this is what we need from you." It means letting go of "best practice," in favor of mutually designing something that works.
Your leaders may not want to participate, but remind them that it's an opportunity to discuss the time and resources they are willing to commit to improve human performance in the organization.
If we, in HR, shift our thinking to act like a business selling services that needs customer feedback, our business processes will dramatically improve. We will:
- Have clearly defined products and services, and know the cost of each to produce;
- Work hard to understand the customers' stated needs, but also listen for needs that might not be easily expressed;
- Develop a sales and marketing proposal to educate the customer on how our product/service could impact their business results;
- Listen carefully to the customer feedback and adjust accordingly and;
- Build trusting relationships based on mutual benefits.
Take a step in this direction. Ask some trusted operational leaders about your HR processes and programs. If they LOVE 'em, great. If they don't, you now have a tremendous opportunity to step in, step up and really make a difference.
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Empowering Employees by Learning & Development at Amplifon
Learning and development strategies must continue to evolve in the ever-changing world of work. Training and development provide employees with a softer landing into change, and the introduction of digital learning and development platforms allowed employees a smoother transition into a new style of work. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation. Amplifon created a learning and development strategy that is hyper-personalised and skills-focused, allowing their people and their entire organisations to become more agile and adaptable. Amplifon invested not only in learning and development content but also in strengthening the global network and collaboration across geographies and functions, to encourage an equal sense of belonging across the entire organisation.
Howdens shares how they grew learning by over 500% in one year
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4 tips to managing diversity and gender equality in your company
If you want to generate success in your company and work in a harmonious environment, then you need to consider each and every one of your employees, get to know their interests, and offer them the best treatment and commitment. However, one of the most important principles that should be commonplace in every organisation is the equal treatment of employees (regardless of gender, race or religion). Gender, for example, should not be a factor that influences how we treat our workforce. Having a gender equality policy shows employees that they are valued and that the company is serious about ending discrimination. Having a fair remuneration policy that is not distinguished by the employee’s gender, but by their job position and their development within the company is an important step towards gender quality too. Opt for a gender-diverse workforce Having more gender diversity in a company is very positive and not just for the company’s own benefit. In fact, the UK could boost its GDP by 9% if the female employment rates matched with Sweden’s for instance. The challenge for HR departments is to successfully and strategically find and enrol more women in their business. It could solve a real problem, breaking barriers of gender discrimination in the workplace and promoting equality within the company. Equality between your workers is essential It is important to not only review the salaries of your employees, but also other professional aspects such as career plans and promotions, ensuring that there are equal opportunities for both men and women. Equality will undoubtedly be a motivational element for employees, regardless of their gender, as having clear objectives is a contributing factor in maintaining employees’ interest levels Strike a balance between work life and family life Fostering harmony between work and family life is key to attracting and retaining talent. It can contribute to the company culture, and to a positive attitude and collaboration amongst employees. Another important point is not to make sweeping generalisations about different genders, and instead to consider the specifics on a case by case basis. Employees need to see that their family life is considered and respected. They will appreciate this and it will likely improve company loyalty in the long run. HR must ensure gender equality in their company HR’s role is essential in managing and promoting gender diversity within the business. They must ensure that the motivation and commitment of their employees is strengthened, which, in turn, strengthens the workforce overall and benefits the entire company.