Hacking HR to Build an Adaptability Advantage

richard-james-barnes's picture

Cracking the cultural crust

Adaptability is essentially a cultural element and reflects typical thinking patterns and ways of working.

The main enemy is therefore itself a cultural one.  Embedded behaviours in managers and staff, underpinned by procedures and systems which emphasise the day job and getting work done/targets achieved over development projects, networking with customers/end users and making time to be creative and challenge paradigms, individually and as a team.

L&D often focuses on sheep dip solutions and menus (look at the BBC's response to the Brand/Ross joke debacle - did everyone need to go on an ethics course at great expense to the taxpayer?).  How much of the L&D budget is targeted at outward looking change and adaptability - e.g. empathy with customers and innovation vs internal issues like appraisal, teambuilding, IT etc.?

You need to register in order to submit a comment.

richard-james-barnes's picture

Keith - I think it is because HR is very far culturally from marketing and sales in most organisation structures. The 2 disciplines share very little in process terms (when I was in HR, sales people were always very hard to 'train' and frequently went AWOL as they often saw little value in courses on appraisal, diversity and teambuilding for example). HR/L&D (largely as a result of the processes they own) tend to always be focussed on the employee and their needs, or what the organisation needs from them, rather than what the end user or the customer wants. Customer care training is often very superficial and dominated by getting Pavlov's dog responses from front line staff (smile, greet, have a nice day etc.) which is all well and good but doesn't reward excellence or going the extra mile. I recall upsetting the Ops Director at Virgin Retail (now defunct) after reporting back on an employee survey with a comment like this criticising their reward system which in my view rewarded mediocrity rather than excellence. His response was that their staff were the best on the high street and that customers were always greeted and thanked. Hmm.

Last week my partner had a problem with some antibiotics she was prescribed which she had picked up from Boots.
As she couldn't get hold of her GP when she felt poorly form taking them, she rang someone at Boots who gave her some advice. At 5pm she received a call from the pharamcist asking how she was. That wasn't in her training course (maybe Boots wouldn't have liked it) but it was a real example of empathy leading to excellent customer service and memorable experience. She took the time to care.

keith-gulliver's picture

Richard - regarding this question ==> "How much of the L&D budget is targeted at outward looking change and adaptability" I think you're on to something here. I suspect the answer is 'not very much', although some aspects may be embedded in to courses on other topics. Do you think this is because we find it harder to demonstrate a clear value of such learning to those who hold the purse strings? If so what can we do about it?