Apr 18 - May 8Phase 1May 8 - 27May 28 - Jun 5Jun 7 - Jul 1Phase 2Jul 2 - 14Jul 17 - Aug 14Phase 3Aug 15 - Sep 16
Radically review all of those processes that we slavishly follow in HR, or think of as 'best practice'. Ask yourself what value they are really adding, and whether or not they could be holding you / the organisatoin back. Think job evaluation, handbooks, exit interviews, employment policies etc etc. If you can't articulate clearly the value of something in the length of a tweet consider just not doing it.
Ban the word 'precedent'.
HR departments often find themselves undertaking a policing function, and are often preoccupied with risk (e.g. risk of the employment claim) leading to complex processes that often perpetuate an adult / child relationship between the company and its employees. HR gets bogged down in administration activity, limiting its ability to deliver more value added activity.
The structure of many HR departments, expecially those organised on Ulrich lines, push people towards processes and impersonal systems. This reduces personal interaction, but the amount of policies and processes that exist in many organisations also dis-empowers management by removing the requirement for them to make decisions for themselves, have genuine conversations with their employees and act accordingly.
All of these factors together can negatively impact upon the reputation of the HR function and its ability to be a strategic partner (partly because it is too busy to be strategic when it is administering job evaluation).
More importantly, this rigidity of approach and collective approach (e.g. treating everyone the same) does not fit well the predicted future of work.
We are proposing that HR departments need to reduce inefficient / low value processes, minimise bureaucracy, reduce administration and encourage people managers to make decisions. Employees need to be treated as individuals.
This Hack could be linked to / mutually support those being run by Tim Scott and Kev Wyke.
This Hack has the power to achieve several things. Firstly, it reduces the adminstration burden on HR, freeing up time for more valuable activity. It can empower managers to make their own decisions. It could, if linked to other Hacks (such as the one being run by Kev Wyke) start to move culture away from parent to child to adult to adult.
Finally, it can positively help the internal reputation of HR.
Culture. The HR I describe is embedded in many organisations and is usually aligned to / reflective of a wider command / control culture. Therefore, a HR department will need to be brave - both in terms of challening that culture, but also being willing to let go of 'the way we have always done things'.
Leadership capability – if you are going to empower people managers then they need to be able to take that responsibility and make decisions.
Take the Chintz Challenge.
The Chintz challenge is designed to free up HR teams from a burden of bureaucracy and low value add administrative tasks.
This Hack is designed to provide a guide for HR teams on how they can begin the journey of transforming their function.
The hack presents a challenge to HR teams – a test that can be applied, and some next steps. It is then over to the HR team applying the challenge to decide how they fill the void left by the reduction in bureaucracy. It starts with a test that can be applied to each and every process, procedure and activity undertaken……
- Can you simply explain the value of the HR activity to the business and to a non HR professional?
- Does anyone do anything with the output, or use it to make decisions or changes?
- Does it help change our culture, or improve people’s skills?
- Is there a bloody good business reason?
- Is there a legal requirement to do the process or does it significantly reduce legal risk to the organisation?
- Does it fit your organisation'?
- Is there anything you are doing, just because you believe it is best practice?
If you can't answer yes to at least a couple of these questions, consider stopping the process or practice.
The How To:
- Do a quick and dirty list of all your main processes and procedures within the function – where is your time going every day?
- List all the documents you produce.
- Hold a workshop. Your choice - just HR or involve the business.
- Apply the test and take the Chintz challenge.
- After you have completed the test and the challenge, sit down as a team and figure out what you are going to do with the time you have saved.
The Challenge to HR people everywhere:
- Apply the test. Find three things you currently do in your HR department that you can stop doing immediately, and just do it. Don’t ask anyone for permission. Just stop doing them.
- Identify three things that you do in your HR department that you can simplify or strip back, and just do it. Don’t ask for permission.
- With the processes you decide you want to retain, define a clear measure of success, so you can clearly explain why you are retaining them. This needs to be articulated in terms of need for the business, and not just need for the HR department.
- Employment Policies. Review all of them, and simply delete, remove or chuck in the bin any that do not meet the test. Take every policy you have and aim to reduce its size by half, removing any sections that state the obvious. Replace as many rules in policies as can with line manager discretion. Remove as many clauses as you can which reduce the element of conversation.
With what is left of the employment policy, use the following design principles:
- Ensure they are written for the majority of sensible employees, and not the ones that will do something wrong or dumb.
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes – if you were on the receiving end of the policy how would it make you feel?
- Principles, not rules.
- Generating discussions between line managers and employees.
Measures of success of the challenge / chintz test:
- Less paperwork, more talking
- A clear rationale for processes
- HR reputation improvements
- More time for value add HR – determine what this means for you! Create your own best practice.
Team were awesome! Thank you.
Also thanks to Tim Scott who suggested an additional question related to his own Hack about best practice.
I might be repeating myself but here is my response to the challenges from Michele and from Peter
Stage 0 - recognise that clients do not all speak with one voice and that any HR response needs to meet multiple requirements
Stage 1 - talk to the clients - for anything HR is doing find out what constitutes success from their point of view (if they can't define success then that must be an instant chuck out)
Stage 2 - establish a method to measure whether the approach being adopted is achieving success (again, if you can't identify how to demonstrate success then it is a chuck out)
Stage 3 - track performance - if desired objectives are not being met and success measures not achieved then, again working with clients, identify and agree options (this may lead into a proper process review)
Of course, the more robust model would be Peter's zero budgeting approach. In my experience this is very powerful both for HR and for the business team involved. It focuses on real value add and ensures very close alignment between HR and the business users. In this version, stage 1 becomes an exploration of the HR contribution to achieving business goals.
Finally, I would develop Peter's comment about learning from others. Specifically I would recommend "Lean" methodolgies as a powerful tool with which to inform HR thinking. Perhaps "The Machine that Changed the World" should be compulsory reading for all CIPD students.
Dear Gemma, Perry, Tim, Bruce, Sean, Nigel, and Simon,
thanks for sharing such a great hack... both radical and practical. Wanted to share a few builds on this hack as you seek to finalize it...
1. It’d be really helpful to provide a concrete example of how the Chintz challenge could play out, perhaps taking a specific HR process or activities as illustration. For instance, how might performance review be improved by going through the Chintz challenge? Specifically, would it look like pre-challenge (based on standard practice), and how would this process be improved based on the answers to the diagnostic questions you pose?
2. This hack could become a real resource to HR practitioners around the world, especially if we generated some sort of “Chintz challenge toolkit” that gave those willing to try this out an easy way to get started. For instance, it’d be really helpful to have simple templates that can help HR teams put the idea into practice, e.g.: generic process / activity map, worksheets for people to write down their answers to the diagnostic questions for each process.
3. You’ve alluded to the fact that some of the input on where is the “chintz” should come from customer, and I’d encourage you to expand on this opportunity. One simple but powerful way to do get the voice of the customer is through a regular “silly rule” contest, along the lines of what Bob Sutton described in this blog:
http://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/02/is-it-time-for-a-stupid-r.... This could be done fairly easily, especially given the on-line tools available today (like this hackathon!)
Thanks again for contributing such a great hack—look forward to seeing how this great hack evolves further...
Good hack and points to a core issue for us and a source of frustration for many outside HR - too much obsession with process and thinking we are doing our job by making more process and making it more complicated, when we should be doing the exact opposite. It's part of HRs traditional comfort zone and to some extent has been reinforced with shared service models. Agree also very much with the points about making HR less one size fits all (which tends to come from a process obsession where the best way to make process efficiency is to standardise) and much more able to be tailored to the individual needs - think the lessons learned from marketing...mass customisation ideas...
Couple of additional thoughts as to how to approach. Firstly we could get even more radical and start by 'zero basing' HR - i.e. start by taking all the processes away and then build what you really need or more to the point what the organisation really needs (I believe this is something they have been thinking about at BSkyB as an example).
Secondly, we need to look more at the underlying HR 'science'. How does the real human being work - motivation, learning, response to stress, leadership etc. I think we have lost sight of this with all the process obsession, yet it should be what underpins our world and what we bring to the table. We (CIPD) are now engaging with the NeuroScience world and there are some fascinating learnings coming from there which would tear up many of our beloved processes such as learning (small bit size oft repeated chunks vs long overblown training programs...).
Overall the message I think is lets get back to basics!!
Thanks for the comments Peter.
I believe that the Shared Services approach has been over played. It suits some organisations but too many have implemented it where it just doesn't fit. It can put artificial barriers up between the business and HR. I have actually just dismantled the approach in my organisation. We have gone back to talking to people instead. Service Centres lend themselves to creating Chintz. I have often seen HR teams who launch an process or a policy, and then keep tweaking and adding, and before long it has grown arms and legs and become unmanageable.
This morning I read an interesting article about the need to unlearn old ideas before you can generate new ones. I think HR needs to unlearn many of its current approaches - including the devotion to the 'Ulrich Model' - at least in the way it has been interpreted by many.
The biggest barrier to a zero based approach would be our own risk aversion and fear. If we can let go of that, then HR can lead the way.
Quote from Laurence J Peter: "Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status."
Bureaucracy could be labelled as the enemy of productivity not the enabler. Over engineering, over mechanising, stifling, restricting all words that come to mind about bureaucracy. So we DO need to do something and this hack sets it out very clearly and that starting with HR would buck a trend, de-stigmatise an already maligned function and generate something more akin to responsible, adult attitudes to the way we develop and lead people.
The 6 tests are great and as Deb says, we should look at applying them to all functions. Starting with HR could be an unexpected turn up for the books and symbolise a new way of thinking in HR. The equivalent of Lean without the mechanical elements. Keeping things Human. Professional. Relevant. Useful. HR Policies feel like they are there to state what you shouldn't do as an employee. Therefore they feel critical and allocate a "finger waving" aspect before anyone has even thought about committing an offence. What that does psychologically is drive a sub-culture; deviance; avoidance; rebellious (dangerous) approaches and disregard.
Instead of "don't offend" the approach ought to be about protecting people. From others who would create a sense of organisational/professional injustice.
Massive organisations have massive policies of a general nature to cover every eventuality. Here's something potentially radical : each individual person creates their own understanding of what constitutes their expected levels of attitude, behaviour, performance, compliance, resource utilisation and responsibility. I'm not advocating people sign up to 4-hour weeks but instead of being emulsioned with a range of policy "directives", they have some guidance on how to craft their very own Memorandum of Understanding with the organisation which is built by them; agreed by their manager, their immediate team and then underscored by HR (checking the legal implications mentioned above as one aspect of this).
Chaos you say. For a 70,000 strong global how can this be? Well how about 70,000 people who genuinely feel part of something and that they have the responsibility firmly set out BY them. I would hope that's just as - if not MORE - enforceable by the organisation should they offend. I would also hope the likelihood of offence is significantly reduced. So for the "time" spent by individuals crafting their own MOU using a de-Chintzed set of guidelines produced by HR, they build their own agreement and set their own operating standards in line with the reason they were employed in the first place. At all levels. Not just the domain of highly skilled professionals.
HR can guide/coach people in the completion and understanding of how to build their own MOU and how to measure that against the expectations of the organisation in a performance; development; cultural; behavioural; reputational; attitudinal sense. The psychological contract becomes the physical contract through a de-Chintzed HR approach.
People aren't machines or sheep or programmable objects. They have hearts and minds that might need a little help to line up to achieve successful application of their skills and talents. There are also manipulative, malevolent and mischievous types. I doubt any policy they come across eliminates those tendencies. IF they have to craft their own MOU it might - just might - trigger their conscience a little more than being sheep-dipped in "thou shalt not..."
So de-Chintzing policies could lead to a whole new approach to the way people think and act in their work. It starts with us. We've mechanised and de-personalised work to a large degree and reacted to offences in a risk-averse manner. Yet still offences happen and people are exited and tribunals needed.
I quote Princess Leia - "the tighter your grip the more (star systems) will slip through your fingers". It is time to loosen the grip and bring work to a new level of federation and understanding between people and their organisations.
Why stop with HR? Companies have meetings, reports, policies, and practices that build up over time. Some continue even after the people who initiated them are no longer there. It is a great practice to "clean house" every now and then. and this house cleaning can support greater adaptability by helping the organization jettison the things that no longer serve it and identify new ways of getting things done. The process you recommend is essentially that of "Work Out" -- GE's process for "getting the work out".
Love this hack, and totally agree with Deb's point here--there is chintz in all parts of the organization. If we really want to increase adaptability, perhaps we figure out how to apply this hack across the entire organization? Could we simply rewrite/reword parts of this hack to make it more globally applicable across the company?
I started this Hack with HR, as it is currently something I am doing in my own organisation, and I see it as a clear issue within many HR functions. There is nothing to stop a similar process or test being adopted in any part of an organisation, department or team. I shall have a ponder on how it could be made more generic without losing any value.
Thanks for the feedback.
Hi Chris if you love this hack have a look at the Systems Thinking hack this is exactly what systems thinking, reduction of failure demand. which runs at about 60% in all organisations. There is so much out there about how to do this, its been around for a long time and many organisations are all ready achieving great results. Speak to Andy Lippok who has worked with John Seddon on projects like this.
Also see how Aviva have implemented Systems Thinking ( NOT LEAN)
The first link is when Aviva fist started the Systems Thinking
Avivaout comes Over the last three years
There are many examples and this approach works in both public and private sector
Great Hack Gemma and Team,
This hack is in line with systems thinking, its not just HR that have many process that have a negative impact on the work across the company. Most companies have a round 50% - 60% failure demand, simple put activities that don't serve the customer and enable the employee to meet the customer need first time, there for require additional work to be undertaken.
The London Borough of Camden London and over 5,000 people.
The results of cutting out the chintz!
The results achieved in just the first following adoption have been impressive.
Reduction of wasted capacity by 50% (10 FTE).
Betterservice forthe customer.
‐ The number of queriessuccessfully resolved forthe customer atthe first point of
contactrose from56% to 96%.
‐ The number of progress chasing and complaint calls(failure demand)fellfrom44%
Staff are reporting betterjob satisfaction and highermorale.
Here's an example of something similar they did at Camden Council: http://www.systemsthinkingmethod.com/downloads/Vanguard_Camden_HR_case_s...
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