Speaker 0 00:00:03 Welcome to the culture of things podcast with Brendan Rodgers. This is a podcast where we call culture leadership, teamwork, plus business. Hello everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of the cultural things podcast. And this is episode 21. Today. I'm talking with Elizabeth Houghton. Elizabeth is a seasoned HR professional with broad industry experience across FMCG, fast moving consumer goods, manufacturing, professional services, information, technology, engineering, motor sport, and financial services. Her expertise in the HR leadership space stretches across coaching leadership, development, recruitment, and selection, succession planning and people management. Elisabeth's current role is people and capability business partner at dashing, which is a leader in the execution of retail campaigns, offering design technology and production services. Her greatest satisfaction comes from inspiring people to think differently and to capitalize on the evolving world of work. The focus of our conversation today is building organizational culture. Elizabeth, welcome to the culture things podcast,
Speaker 1 00:01:19 Having me, Brendan, it's really nice to be here today.
Speaker 0 00:01:22 We were joking just before we hit the record button that you and I have just been chatting at the desk here for about an hour and a half. We probably should have hit record much earlier. Right.
Speaker 1 00:01:31 It was really good stuff that we were saying.
Speaker 0 00:01:33 We covered all other elements of stuff. Now we're going to focus on some stuff that, you know, around organizational culture and building organizational culture. You're actually into a bit more stuff than what I've shared in the introduction. How about you tell us a bit about that and tell us, what's taken you into this area of passion of yours in this human resources area.
Speaker 1 00:01:52 Yeah. So I'll start at the beginning really of how I ended up in HR. There was no real grand plan to work in HR. I was like most 17 year olds filling out applications to go to uni, not really knowing what to do. And for me when you don't know what to do, you study general business because it's just so open for opportunity going forward. Well, that was my view. When I was 17, I started uni a year later and really didn't enjoy quite a lot of the business modules at uni counting and economics is not my thing. So I started to pick up more and more people related topics. And really from there, the rest is history. I went for a university for six years, studying HR and came out as the HR specialist. I'm very much a generalist. So I don't specialize in any set area in HR, which lots of people do do, but it wasn't for me.
Speaker 1 00:02:49 I like a lot of variety in my life, so I didn't want to specialize. And that just started me on my journey along the way. I have worked for so many different businesses in with that. You get a veal variety of different organizations. The way people do things is different in every single industry, but also every single organization. And I was really lucky to start my journey in recruitment for a very large bank in the UK. And after about six months of just doing recruitment, although it's a really exciting part of the HR landscape and is probably it's the first point, it's the first interaction someone has with a business. So it's really important to get it right, but interviewing people day in and day out was not something I enjoyed doing, interviewing people every now and then. It's great, but I wanted more variety.
Speaker 1 00:03:40 So I was then lucky enough to find a role in a privately Aiden business and with the business being quite small, it meant as a junior HR person, I got exposure to absolutely everything which propelled me along my career and has led to where I am today. And throughout my career. There's certain things about HR. I really enjoy the same things. I really don't enjoy. And you take the good and the bad with any profession, but my real focus and what I love doing is asking why questioning the status quo and being in conversations where you're pushing people to question why they doing something the way they're doing it? Why have they always done it like that? Is it still working or did it ever really whack? And what support do we need and what type of business do we want to be? And with that, what type of culture do you want to have?
Speaker 2 00:04:31 We always like to get into the nitty gritty sites. So you said there's some things you don't like about HR. How about you tell us what they are.
Speaker 1 00:04:38 I really do not enjoy the fairings side of HR. I like it's a thing. Most organizations, when they fire people do it with as much dignity and humility as possible, but it's never an easy conversation. I've been in HR for over a decade. And my husband Jakes, I've probably fired more people than he's ever worked with, which isn't a nice thing to be known for, but it is part of the role in HR and trying to do that in a way that you can say hand on heart. After the conversation, as a business, as a HR person, you've done everything you can to support that person, to ensure that person can be successful. That's how I've managed to get through it. That's how I've managed to ensure it doesn't impact me negatively. Cause that's a really hard conversation. You're messing up someone's life who had taken away their livelihood.
Speaker 1 00:05:26 And no one goes to work with the intention to do a bad job. No one wants to go and not be good at what they do. But then as a business, sometimes you haven't recruited right? Or something's happening along the way. And there's been this disengagement or misalignment between that person and the business on what's required. So you don't always have a choice, but to go me, like we don't always get it right. We don't always get recruitment. Right. We don't always get cultural alignment. Right. And having to have that conversation with someone saying, we're just not the right business for you. It's not the right fit. But yet I don't enjoy that side of it. I don't enjoy any the stuff with trade unions in the UK. We don't really have them. So the me coming here, I'm fine coming to Australia and seeing that unions still have quite a lot of power and can dictate or try to dictate how organizations do things.
Speaker 1 00:06:23 I found really, really interesting, like as this other layer of complexity. But my experience unfortunately, has been that union delegates behave in a way that I would never behave in the have conversations in a way and a tone that I would never do. So it's always it's. So you're going into battle straight away. There's not an open conversation across the table just between two people. So I don't enjoy that side of it. They're probably the, my goal. I don't enjoy. I really enjoy organizational development structure, working with people, understanding the career paths they want to go on and putting in place processes to support leaders, to lead their teams. Wow. And on an individual basis, instead of like this cookie cutter, everyone has to be the same.
Speaker 0 00:07:08 And that's certainly the area we're gonna dive into around organizational culture. But even before we get into the nitty gritty of that covert, we're still in this situation and you've been impacted by COVID even though, you know, you're an HR specialist. Can you just share a little bit about your experiences and how covert has impacted you personally?
Speaker 1 00:07:27 Yeah, of course I can. So covert has been really difficult. I think for everyone there's no single pattern in the wild. I think he can say that hasn't impacted them. It might not be that they lost their job. It could be that they can't go and get their favorite coffee anymore. They can't hang out at the local park, whatever it may be. Everyone has been impacted in some way. For me, I went through the challenge of supporting a business, going through downsizing quite quickly, right. Sizing the economy and the climate that we were in. And it also impacted me as well. Like my hours will cut back dramatically and I found myself having to find another way to pay my bills and mortgage doesn't stop just because COVID is here. So I was fortunate enough the right time, right place. I found a new role within two days and have managed to stay connected to the business I love and I am passionate about, but also go forwards on this new journey for me is an interesting change.
Speaker 1 00:08:21 I guess I never fought at the beginning of this year. I'd be changing roles, changing organizations, working with a different team. And that's a lot to get your mind around Jenny. When you look to leave a business, there's something that's happened or there's an emotional journey that you've gone on and you've decided it's no longer the right fit for you or you want progression and you can't get that within the business you're in. And when you find yourself in a position where you don't want to make that choice, that the business you love wants to keep you, but they just can't because economically it doesn't make sense. That's a really hard path to go on. And I'm lucky. Well, one of the lucky ones, I guess, who managed to get a job really, really quickly, I know lots of people who haven't had that opportunity and are still looking now in I'm grateful for it. But at the same time, I think if I could wave a magic wand, it'd be great. If I could go back to where I was. Cause I lived why I did it doesn't mean I don't love what I do now, but it's just different. And it wasn't something I was prepared to do this year.
Speaker 2 00:09:18 Thank you for sharing that. And as you said, there's a lot of people have been impacted and unfortunately all this stuff's really outside of your mind or anyone's control. So that's the, probably the hardest pill to swallow. Let's talk about organizational culture. Can you just explain what is organizational culture?
Speaker 1 00:09:35 Organizational culture is different. Every single business, no organization will have the same culture. It's all about. And the people you have, what you're trying to achieve and how you lead within a business. So it's a set of shared values and shared behaviors that come into kind of like this micro environment within an organization that you then support and build on. So you have building blocks within a business. So when a business is first founded, you have the founder and then have their set of values or beliefs. And then from that in an ideal situation, those key values are written down and articulated and behaviors are attached to them. So if you have a value of integrity, what behavior do you want that to display? Like how, how do you want that to play out within your business? If you have a value of speed and agility, what behaviors does everyone in your organization needs to display in a show to live that value.
Speaker 1 00:10:36 But also what impact does that value have? So you could argue speed and agility. Well maybe you do things quickly. You may get them wrong because they're not four hours or you don't have a quality product that might not have been your intention, but what connotations are attached to those words and it's those foundations and those building blocks that build onto and create a culture culture isn't static either. So I think that's something that lots of organizations sometimes forget that they've set this culture. They've got their values up on the wall. Unfortunately, some organizations still don't have anything more than a value poster on the wall. Some organizations and more and more these days have gotten to outlining, well, what behaviors do these values pull on? And what, how does it play out within a business, but values evolve over time. Every new person that joins a business joins with their value, set their experience, what has driven them to be part of that organization?
Speaker 1 00:11:34 What journey they've been on to now be in that role, in that business. And that changes the culture again, like it shifts it slightly. And then with every person that leaves and every person that joins your culture changes because you have more people, you have different people, you have different Fort, you have different values. So there's a piece there that needs to be done while the recruitment's agent. I think home, I said this earlier about recruitment is actually a really important part of the journey. And it leads into culture as well, because we generally, when we recruit, we ask people, what skills do they have? Why are they good at what are they not good at? How they can bring those skills to our organization and how that's gonna play out. But we very rarely sit down and I very rarely seen organizations do to sit down and say, well, what are your values?
Speaker 1 00:12:22 What do you value? This is what we value as an organization. How does that align with you? Because if you continue to bring in people with misaligned values to what your business is trying to stand for, then you have just this huge disconnect between what you're saying. You stand for as a business and what you actually stand for. Because these new people you're bringing in don't affiliate with those values, they don't align to them. They don't understand them that work for them. So they bring in a whole bunch of new values. And then you have, there's a massive disconnect across the business, around what behaviors are acceptable. Some businesses are, I've seen a very, very good at saying, these are our values. These are our behaviors of a businesses. Bring in new people, show you the poster on the wall. Don't really articulate what any of that means. And then they accept the new behaviors that this new pattern bring them because it's easier. It's easier than saying, Oh, we wouldn't have quite done it like that. Or how did you use our values to drive your decision making? It's easier to just accept it. As long as it's not been a massive error, it's easier to allow that person to behave with a value set and a set of behaviors that belong to that person, then kind of questioning it and changing it to say, Oh, we would have expected this behavior to get this result.
Speaker 2 00:13:46 What do you see as your first challenge or the first thing to get going? If an organization isn't clear on their values
Speaker 1 00:13:53 To understand their why? So why are they doing what they're doing? And to ask the leaders and especially the CEO to articulate in a really clear way, what it is they want their brand to be known as, and then, then from that you should mail to get a couple of sentences of, we want to be the leader in X, Y, and Z. We want to be known for quality and whatever that statement is that their CEO is focused on and saying, this is what the connotation we want to attach of our brand. And then from there, you kind of need to work through and go, okay. So that's what we want to be known as, and what we want to be known for. That's what we want people to be saying about our brand. What do we want people to be saying about our team, our leaders, and what words come out of that? And then, well, how do we do that? How do we ensure they're the words people use to describe us? So if we say we want people to say that we're supportive and a transparent leadership team, well, how would you be a supportive and transparent leadership team? What behaviors do you have to display and show regularly and consistently to be described in that way,
Speaker 2 00:15:05 Work with organizations or leadership teams around these values and to get them to own these sort of things when they're, when they've never had it before, it's all a bit new, it's all a bit foreign to them. Can you just talk to us about those challenges that I know you've lived before in organizations and no doubt you will live again in future organization
Speaker 1 00:15:25 Hit definitely say in an idle loud, if your designing new values or structuring new values or changing your values for any reason, businesses go on journeys. And I said, culture evolves. So values do need to be reassessed. And we looked at in an idle wired before you get to that point of pressing Gorrow and starting to articulate them to the wider, the business, the whole leadership team should be aligned and brought into them. That's not always the case in every business. Um, and if it's not the case, it's then around, well, how did we get to this point? How did we pick these values? It should never be something that's done in isolation. It shouldn't be an HR person saying these are great values. Let's use these. It should be a collaboration. It should be a conversation. So you bring people on the journey. And from my experience as the HR person, it's important to guide that journey.
Speaker 1 00:16:17 It doesn't mean you force it upon people, but you do guide that journey. You bring them with you. That's a huge leadership skill. Not everyone can do that, unfortunately, and or different points of being able to bring people on that journey. And then that doesn't work. And I have seen it not work it's around articulating the why. So why have you picked that value? Why is it important? How does it play out on a daily basis? And I think that how does it play out is probably one of the most important conversations to have, because if you want to reduce policies and documentation and step by step guides that we've all seen in the HR space, looking at how your values play out on a day to day basis and being able to clearly articulate, or we have this value, we connect all of these behaviors to this value, which means that gives you the context in how you should behave and how you should make decision.
Speaker 1 00:17:15 And that should having that conversation and making that really clear should actually empower leaders who might not necessarily understand values or the importance of values, or really understand what is organizational culture and why do we need to even articulate what it is we're here to come and do a job. I've had that many times, we're all here to do a job and go home. But that micro environment we live in when we are in an organization is important to people. We all like connection. So if you can explain how it plays out and how they can use, then it should actually give them far more freedom to do their job. They shouldn't be stuck in these kind of rigid. This is the process. If we do this, it should be more of under this open conversation of, Oh, so we have this by, this is the behavior was a pasted display, or these are the behaviors we're supposed to display.
Speaker 1 00:18:07 There shouldn't be this reliance on a detailed policy. People should just know, okay. So we've decided where open, honest and we deliver quality products. So you've got a, just say, we've got a team member that you need to have a conversation where you're not too happy about their performance. Well, how do you do that? Well, you've said that one of your values is being open and honest. So you haven't even an honest conversation or you don't need to write that down. You shouldn't have to document our, okay, how do I now go and talk to this person? There will be enough context behind it to enable someone to have that conversation and have a conversation in a way that is human open and honest, and everyone walks away with the same meaning and the same understanding
Speaker 0 00:18:53 With that value set. How does that help or how should that help in the recruitment process specifically?
Speaker 1 00:18:59 So when you interview people, you have all these data points, you know what your values are, you know, what your behaviors are, you know, how you meet decisions, you know how that plays out within a few key people within your business. So at the interview stage, it's around going, well, these are our company values. What are your top three values? Can you articulate to me what your top V values are? And very few of us in my experience really know what we stand for and what we believe in. We've gone through life. And we've picked up these whole bunch of values from our parents, from school, from people around us, but we've probably never really sat down and fought. What do I value as an individual? What, what is important to me, why my core values and our interview, if you want to bring people in to suit your culture and this isn't around not having diversity, like babies play out in different ways for everyone, but it is around the fundamentals.
Speaker 1 00:19:53 What you need are the foundations within this pattern aligned to what you would Hunter achieve for a business. And then asking those questions, understanding what, where that person sits and understanding whether or not there is alignment or there's not alignment. And if there's not alignment being brave enough to say, Hey, actually this business isn't for you. It doesn't mean you're not technically good at your job. You're probably phenomenal at your job, but this culture, we would be doing you a disservice. We brought you into it because there isn't an alignment from a value perspective, and then supporting that candidate, not all organizations do this, but maybe support in that. Can they in pointing them in the right direction, around what organizations have you seen play out with their values and supporting them on their journey? Because kinda they experience for me is really important and completely undervalued in the recruitment process.
Speaker 1 00:20:45 I'm sure many people listening to this have kind of got that automatic response. Thank you for your application. And we'll get back to you in seven days if you were successful. And you'll probably sat there as a kind of let go. And I spent three hours doing this application and I get an automated response. And that was kind of the same with interviews as well. I've also found that lots and lots of hiring managers. Now don't actually really like giving feedback. They like to send again the standard email response. Thank you for coming to me. I've asked you haven't been successful, but you're not helping that person. You're not saying that that person up for success. If you don't have an honest conversation, and if honesty is one of your values, it needs to play out in every interaction you have with people.
Speaker 2 00:21:26 What's the toughest thing for your round coaching leaders, to be able to have those, what we can term as tough conversations, because probably they're feeling like they need to have a conversation because they're seeing behavior. That's not aligned with the values as opposed to behavior that is aligned to the barriers. How do you help them get over that barrier? I suppose,
Speaker 1 00:21:47 Understanding that if you don't have the conversation, you're actually setting that person up for failure. Because if you, as a leader, your unhappy with someone's performance or unhappy with their decision making process, and you don't tell them that they didn't know that they don't know that they've kind of strayed off the path a little bit. And it, hasn't not in a good way. Like we want people, we stray off the path. We want people as question and stuff. But when you have a fam culture that you're trying to manufacture effectively, which is what organizations do as a leader, you don't say to an individual, Hey, you know how you spoke to the receptionist this morning. That probably wasn't the way to go. But my observation, you came across as being rude or didn't acknowledge the receptionist, whatever it may be, if you don't have that conversation.
Speaker 1 00:22:41 And that behavior in is individual plays out for the next week, two weeks, six months, it becomes accepted. That person thinks it's okay because no one said to them, Hey, that's not how we do things around here. That's not what we do. And then eventually what I've seen in these situations is managers and leaders, leave it go because they're scared or don't know how to have the conversation in an effective way. And then it comes to six months later or a year later where they've absolutely had enough. Don't want to deal with it anymore. And they just want this person gone. But this person has never been told they're doing anything wrong in a constructive way. So it's actually not that individual's fault. So the way I work with leaders in these situations is that I've had a very similar story to why adjusted if, as a leader, you haven't told them that's not okay.
Speaker 1 00:23:32 They're not mind readers. They don't know it's not okay. And it may be uncomfortable for you as a leader. I really don't like giving people negative feedback. I've been in HR for over a decade and I do it. I have to do it. It's part of my role, but it doesn't mean it makes me feel comfortable. But as a human way to have every conversation, you don't have to go into a conversation with your God up and being authoritarians and directive. The way I coach leaders to kind of have these conversations is to ask questions. So it would be around, hi, Brandon. I noticed today that you didn't acknowledge the receptionist and I've kind of noticed that you haven't done that. Oh, wow. Do you want to talk me through? Why? Like, why did that happen? Why do you not do that? And ask all of those, why questions to kind of understand what's driving that.
Speaker 1 00:24:22 And you might find out that they had a balmy that I'm awake over the coffee machine, who knows, right. It could be anything. Or it might be just that in their last organization, no one ever said hello to the receptionist. So why would they do it here? Because that was the accepted behavior. But unless you ask them why you don't know, and that's, that's how you can have the conversation because you're raising it as a, I've noticed this, explain it to me, you again, explanation. And then you can kind of say, okay, well, I understand your perspective, but round here, this is the expectation. And then if you can link that back to the values, that's even better because you're saying we do it like this, because this is what we want to be known as, as a business, this is what we stand for. It's not just your passion or preference of the leader. It's actually the overall culture in the second new start layer. One thing slide. We're going to culture, the whole culture shifts, and it slowly goes downhill and deteriorates. And isn't what you plan it to be, to start with. So unless you actually kind of call it out, you can't control it.
Speaker 3 00:25:24 How do you call these things out in amongst the senior leadership group
Speaker 1 00:25:28 Leaders and an idle out her all committed and signed up to the values of the business. And as an HR person, if you're seeing your leaders not display those values, it is your role. It is your duty. It is your accountability to call that out. But calling out with peers who don't necessarily have the HR background and we all make silly mistakes as well. And I think that's something that needs to, we all need to remember, like no leader comes in thinking they're going to do a bad job, or they're going to talk to a team member in a way that doesn't align with a value. So it starting that conversation of saying, Oh, Hey, I noticed this yesterday, or I heard this. We don't have eyes in the back of our heads as HR people. We generally build relationships really well. We're in the business.
Speaker 1 00:26:14 So people come and tell us stuff, but that also helps us because we're not coming from this judgment perspective. We can, I have a conversation of, Oh, Hey, I just wanted to have a chat to you about what happened on Monday at X, Y, and Zed. When you were talking about this, I've had some feedback that it wasn't necessarily potentially received in the way that you wanted it to be received. Can we just talk through that? How did you have that conversation? And then just see how you can interject as a HR person to help and support that leader time, ensure that a message is delivered in the way in which they intended it to be
Speaker 2 00:26:49 In your opinion, who drives organizational culture?
Speaker 1 00:26:53 So the foundation's definitely come from the head of the trees, say the CEO or whatever structure you have within a business, EGM the culture and the behaviors in which people are supposed to be displayed, needs to be displayed by the person in the may senior position within the business. And it's their responsibility to hold their team accountable for it. So people always go, Oh, it's the whole leadership team. And it is, but the CEO has to hold their team accountable and then so forth and so forth throughout the organization. I have seen some organizations try, the more bottom up approach of let's really educate the frontline staff, because it's really easy to, easier to educate them easier to get them to buy in. And I know some HR teams do some homes, but he struggled to implement that, that real senior level. So looking at you can go from the bottom up, sometimes looks like a good approach, especially if you have good relationships at that level, because you have more day to day interactions with that level in terms of supporting on the day, say people challenges, but that doesn't keep out. Like, it's great that you can get it at that level, but eventually they're going to hit this very block because they're going to go up through the organization. And eventually you're going to get to this group of people who aren't living those values and not living those dreams, say the people below that or lose interest or lose faith in those values. So the only way it has to be a top down approach,
Speaker 2 00:28:22 You talked a bit about recruitment. What are other important areas of the human processes? Part that help drive the right culture that that organization is trying to permeate through?
Speaker 1 00:28:33 Absolutely everything say every communication may that be email or verbal, what's the intent behind it? Has it been delivered in a way with the words that are aligned to the culture? Sometimes this is where the mismatch comes in. Like values are great and you can educate people on values. You can deliver training, you can develop people, you can give them packs on what value links to what behavior and how that's supposed to be, but it's not their true value. And it comes back to the recruitment place. As of what are your value question in times of pressure and stress, you start to see the truth. So if someone has to say, deliver a message, there is an ideal, or is potentially gonna be perceived negatively, or they're doing it under a whole lot of stresses that they're going through. And that's when you see it kind of uncommon done where those core values don't play through because they know that individual's core values there.
Speaker 1 00:29:33 That individual not going to say as masquerading as their values, but there's not this true alignment. So it's kind of stress testing. So if under stress and pressure, those values are how people still behave. Then, you know, they're right. They're aligned. So that's kind of like the communication piece, but it also plays out in one-on-ones any policy development, any process development. So you could have a, let's take something really simple. And I'll take one that might resonate with a lot of people, the expense policy, right? So you have a whole bunch of values that generally like organizations will use different words, but their values will all be about, do the right thing for the organization, do the right things for your peers and be open, honest, have integrity in what you do. And then you find a 20 page document that articulated to you what you can and cannot expense and how you are supposed to do that.
Speaker 1 00:30:36 If you are aligned to your values, you shouldn't need that document because you should know what is right and what is not right. Can you buy yourself a home PC on your expenses? Or can you not? You shouldn't need that policy because you already understand what is acceptable behavior. So your values also leak should link into what documentation you have. And yes, there is documentation that is required. There is a legal standard that is required, but if your values are so aligned to that document, that document shouldn't need to be referred to it shouldn't be needed to be used because every decision you make is driven by those values.
Speaker 2 00:31:18 Where does policy sit properly in an organization?
Speaker 1 00:31:22 My approach in my viewpoint is if your culture and your values and your behaviors are so ingrained in people, you actually shouldn't need any because no one should do the wrong thing. And if the wrong thing is done, they should know how to deal with that. Through the behaviors in which you know, to accept is what is acceptable. Like we all do dumpings and we're all going to have to have that conversation about doing a dumb thing at some point. And we're continuing to do dumb things. We're human, but your values of in the organization and the behaviors that you supposed to display should be connected enough to you, for you to have those conversations and go through those processes without having a document. Now, I'm not going to say that you don't need them. Yes. There are certain things under legislation that you have to have that the fair work says you have to have a process and you have to have a well documented process around things like whistle blowing in your performance management process.
Speaker 1 00:32:20 You need to, if it hadn't been EV ends up in a white case, you need to be able to clearly demonstrate that you have a well documented process. And you've followed that process. Now that process doesn't have to be anything different than what the lawyers have written down in the fair work act, but you do need to habit weave it in your business. And I guess for me, that's the conflict that I have in my role as an HR professional. And if you were saying that you treat everyone with respect and integrity as one of your values, then it should never be pulled into question that you've done the wrong thing in someone's employment, or that you didn't manage someone correctly because you've got this behavioral set. That is how you're supposed to behave. But then on the legal side and lawyers make them feel a bit more comfortable as well. You actually do need to document it.
Speaker 2 00:33:08 It's almost like the legality and the compliance side of life and industries is sort of undermining the ability to build trust and transparency and authenticity and whatever core values are, but for organizations to really live core values and maybe not then have to spend so much time on things that are maybe not as value driven activity as what they would rather spend time on.
Speaker 1 00:33:35 Oh, definitely HR as a profession has gone on this big journey and we're not just a compliance function anymore. I think we were maybe 10, 20 years ago. That was the sole purpose. There was so much legislation that we were there's massive compliance function, where it was all about what processes, what policies were in place. And that journey is evolving and it's still evolving today. And every organization is on a different point in that journey where by user behaviors are being seen as more important. Sometimes the legislation and the compliance side really hinders that human element or leadership, and the way you deal with situations, because legislation is ran in a way that kind of says, we all wear exactly the same shoes. We will have exactly the same shoe side. And we don't, we're all individuals, we all need different things. We all need to be spoken to in different ways in how different allowances made for us to ensure that we can be productive and effective our roles, where the legislation is a man like that is very black and white.
Speaker 1 00:34:43 You will do this, you won't do that. And it also doesn't take into account individual organizations either. It just kind of says everyone has to be treated the same and everyone is the same. And it might be the naive side of me, but I really don't feel that any organization sets out these days to MIS treat team members. But then there's that compliance side that says you have to do all these things in this way, and that just might not suit your organization. So it's ensuring that you have the right policies and procedures in place to cover yourself as an HR team from a compliance perspective, but then also using them in a way that gives you flexibility, allows you to treat someone as an individual in an authentic way that aligns to the company values. And that's the real tricky part because legislation that's all there is, is black and there's no kind of blurred lines. It is, this is how you're supposed to do it. So how would you take something that is so regimented and say, okay, so this is the base process. This is absolutely minimum. We have to do as an organization. We have these values, these behaviors, we have all these unique, incredible individuals that work for us. How do we white a document that enables us to have flexibility, to deal with certain situations?
Speaker 2 00:36:02 How do you go about trying to influence that, you know, you've got this perspective of what your role could be or should be. What do you do to influence and make that actually become a reality over these future years?
Speaker 1 00:36:14 Keep having the conversation. So keep asking why and having the confidence to question the status quo. So all HR people, when you move on, you'll go into an organization and there'll be a whole bunch of policies ask why you have them ask, are they fit for purpose ask, or how does the value set of the organization lead into this? Like how, how is that playing out in this policy document that we're holding everyone accountable to? Is it aligned or isn't it aligned and just continuing to be brave enough to have those conversations. And it's also around questioning of our HR people. I have a great deal of HR friends when you've been in the industry for a long time, as you all know, you kind of levitate to the same people who, you know, have the same industry experience as you and having those open conversations and questioning each other and feeding off each other as well.
Speaker 1 00:37:06 I think it gets to a point in sometimes in careers where you are just seen as expert. So one just listens to you and you are not necessarily questioned so much or challenged in a way that you should be. And I think it's really important for all HR people to keep challenging each other and keep challenging the leaders in which they work with to look at new ways of doing things, but then also open up working with our organizations. So let's stop being scared of sharing our weaknesses or things we don't do so well as an organization, it's open up that conversation and say, Hey, I just saw that business over there, did this. Why can't we do that? Or let's understand how they did that to see how you can make it fit for your organization.
Speaker 2 00:37:52 And we were talking off air earlier about covert. It's been a challenging situation for everyone. What are those challenges that leaders have come up against?
Speaker 1 00:38:04 I feel in an organization. So let's look at more of a corporate business who have the ability for their team members to work from home in that type of organization. And what's happened is people have been thrown into, I wish I in the office, everyone gets to work from home and potentially that wasn't always the case in potentially may have had leaders. We have the mindset and I've certainly had it in my career quite recently, actually. Um, probably we were in the last four or five years where I actually had a leader say to me, well, no, I expect you to be at your desk Monday to Friday nine to five, because if I need to call you, I'm going to call you on your desk phone, regardless of the bat, I had a mobile phone and I could be reached anywhere that expectation, whereas you have to be at your desk.
Speaker 1 00:38:49 And I think not all leaders know how to manage without physically seeing their team members every day. And that's not any fault of their own. It's probably some extent the full all of the experiences they've had, the way they've been led previously by previous leaders or how they've come up through an organization and through their career journey. But also, I don't always feel that organizations are really great at developing leaders. So organizations in my past experience, high someone who's really technically good at their specialty and then say, Hey, have a team, but they've never led people. They could be the best engineer in the whole entire world. And that's how they've ended up bleeding people, but that's not necessarily their passion on not necessarily something that they wanted to do, but they've ended up there because the organization wanted them there because they're a really good engineer.
Speaker 1 00:39:45 And people, leadership is a very different skillset and free COVID. Lots of leaders have been pushed into leading in a way that doesn't come natural to them and having to do that rapidly. You knew that that happened overnight. That switched from being in the office to being at home, literally happened probably within a couple of days, but lots of organizations and all of a sudden your having to make this decision of, well, how do you manage productivity and output and accountability when you can't physically see your team, how do you have those interactions and what do your team need? So you'll have some team members as a leader who are really struggling being at home because they love being around people and they get their energy from people. And all of a sudden, that's at home at their kitchen table on their own with no one's talked to all day and they're going a little bit crazy.
Speaker 1 00:40:37 You'll have other people who are loving being at home and finding Mel it's so much more productive for them because they don't have all the distractions of an open plan office and all the hustle and bustle going around them. But then as a leader, how do you know, how do you know which team member is struggling and which team member is loving it? So you see quite a lot on LinkedIn right now. And every team is pairing up their morning Skype calls and the pictures of that. And that was a really good way to do it, to have these regular check ins as you go, but that doesn't necessarily come naturally to every leader. And also it's not always the right thing for every single team member. You know, some team members might absolutely hate the fact that their manager calls them every single day to say, Hey, what are you doing today? Cause they may feel that that micromanaging or that they're not trusted. So it's as a leader being aware enough of your individuals, your team, to know what they need and how you can support them. So my view on leadership and especially through this COVID situation is understanding my team, understanding what they need. So it's not around what my preferred style is, or my preferred method of work is it's a around what does my team member need and what is their preferred method? And how can I facilitate that for them?
Speaker 2 00:41:56 What do you want to see happen in the future around HR and how HR supports organizational culture and how can you embrace that in your own journey and how do you be that force of change
Speaker 1 00:42:09 In a perfect world? Every CEO will give HR at the time of day and an absolute perfect world. Yes. Okay. There's the age old argument that HR doesn't make money, but if your people aren't happy, you're not making money. So that is really important to kind of focus on that. And I know every people listening to this go, no, she would say that she's in HR, but people are everything. Without people, you don't have a business without people, you don't have a product without people, you don't have customers because the, who do they interact with. So I think in an ideal world, every single CEO would be connecting with someone in HR, if not daily, weekly, to continue to open up those conversations around people. And to ensure that there is this alignment between what the CEO wants to achieve and what the CEO's vision of his business is.
Speaker 1 00:43:01 And the missing link between that is the CEO will have a vision. And yes, it's accountable for driving profit and making money and ensuring all of us get home. And we get paid every fortnight or every month. And that that's a real, huge fake, but this is where the HR function comes in by having that alignment and understanding or what the CEO wants to achieve. HR people can come in and say, Oh, okay, so human behavior, right? It's psychology. How, how can we do that? How can we drive this within our people? How can we ensure our people are aligned to this? And how can we ensure how people are making money and are productive? And that's not always about selling budgets and selling sales targets. There's a whole human element of what behavior is going to achieve that. So do you want to be a business at sands?
Speaker 1 00:43:50 You want to make sales at any cost or do you want to make sales in the right way with the white behaviors? So I think it was Richard Branson that says, look after your people fast and your customers second, because if you look after your people, your people will look after your customers. And I think that is something that I want every organization to see is how HR plays into it. You look after your people and then if you look after your people, your money will come and seeing that the HR function is a function that can support you looking after your
Speaker 2 00:44:20 Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing that. How can listeners get hold of you?
Speaker 1 00:44:24 Probably the best way is to reach out to me on LinkedIn Elizabeth Houton, I'm pretty sure I have a palletized. I think then URL. So I believe it's a linkedin.com/ Elizabeth Howard, UK. And that's is probably the best way to reach out to me cause you never know what's going to happen. And there's COVID well, so I'm sure if I give you my email address, it might change in a couple of weeks. Cause we don't know what's going on. Hopefully not that my LinkedIn will remain there and I'll remain having access to it. And I think Brenda mentioned this point before. So yes, I am an HR specialist, but my keen interest is more around the development piece and how culture is developed in also how that interplays with coaching. So I do have my own side hustle, which is Sutton for potential. So please do reach out to me there.
Speaker 1 00:45:18 You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram or LinkedIn again, and it'd be really interesting, but you to share with me your stories within whack, my real focus is around individuals who have kind of done everything right in their lives, but not necessarily what they're passionate about. So that kind of real traditional upbringing of you go to uni, you get good corporate job and you're supposed to be happy and successful. If you don't quite feel that do reach out to me, I'm sure I have a way of helping you align what you do and how you pay your bills with your passion.
Speaker 0 00:45:55 I think everyone's got a side hustle law two or three nowadays. It's just the environment we're in. I just want to say thank you very much for coming on today. You're our first HR person on the show. I think that's congratulations well done for coming on and sharing your experiences. I've never been in HR myself. I've worked with a number of HR people I do today as well in my consultancy business. And there's a lot of people out there trying to fight the good fight and they do get dragged into a lot of stuff that is probably not why you went into human resources in the first place. So keep fighting that good fight once again. Thank you very much. Appreciate you coming on the cultural things podcast. Thank you, Brendan.
Speaker 0 00:46:43 Hey char people are real people. They have the same feelings as you and I. I like an HR people in organizations somewhat to those in emergency services, they experienced some good, but they also experience a lot of bad. A lot of the bad side of HR is often as a result of poor leadership. For example, HR people often find themselves having to deal with the aftermath of a lead on not having the conversations that he or she should have had with a team member. As Elizabeth said, six months later, she gets a visit from a leader who wants her to help fire that person. This poor leadership leads directly into poor organizational culture. If senior leaders take ownership of their organizational culture with highchair working alongside to support them, it will go a long way to improving the lives of people at work. These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Elizabeth.
Speaker 0 00:47:45 My first key takeaway organizational culture must be driven by the CEO. This is a responsibility that must never be delegated. The ultimate leader sets the tone for everything related to values and behaviors. They must set the tone by ensuring they live and breathe. The core values and behaviors, and they must ensure they keep their team accountable and that their team keeps each other accountable. As they say, culture is a reflection of leadership. Human resources can and should provide support with this. But ultimately it is the CEO who must be the driver of organizational culture. My second key takeaway higher on behaviors, not on technical ability. Elizabeth mentioned how it is really important to stress test people, to identify their behaviors under pressure. This has to be part of the recruitment process. Don't have the standard interview in your office, get the candidate out and about with you, put them in environments where they will start to reveal their true self, put them in situations where they won't have time to think about their answer.
Speaker 0 00:49:06 I've had clients that have even set up situations where the interview is. Order is deliberately stuffed up to see how they react to the serving staff. At all times, during the recruitment process, you want to be reassuring yourself that the is core values are aligned with the company's core values. Employing behaviourally aligned. People will save you a lot of pain and suffering later on my third key takeaway human systems must reflect and reinforce the organization's culture. These human systems include recruiting and hiring orientation, managing performance, compensation, and rewards recognition. And even how you decide to let people go often the legality and compliance requirements around human processes can undermine the ability to build trust. The best organizations strike the right balance between too much and too little structure. Someone once said an organization has to institutionalize its culture without bureaucratizing it. So in summary, my three key takeaways were organizational culture must be driven by the CEO higher on behaviors, not on technical ability. Human systems must reflect and reinforce the organization's culture. If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a [email protected]
Thank you for listening. Stay safe until next time. Thank you for listening to the cultural things podcast with Brendan Rogers, please visit Brendan rogers.com to access the show notes. If you love the culture, cultural things podcast, please subscribe right and give her a review on Apple podcast and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.