Tell me about your role
I’m the HR director for Retail Savings, which is part of the biggest business division within Legal and General. I’m responsible for leading the design and delivery of people and organisation strategies for the business unit which employs just over 2,000 employees across a number of UK and international locations.
I’m expected to provide the right support and challenge to the executive leadership team, which includes thought leadership and best practice on a wide range of people issues to drive business improvement.
A key objective for me is to deliver an integrated, efficient and cost-effective HR partnership; I have a team of eight which is made up of five HRBPs and three HR consultants that report into the group HR director for the division.
What challenges have you faced in this role?
Right now, my biggest challenge is working with the executive managing director to bring together his newly formed leadership team and make sure they’re aligned to a common purpose and an ambition of high performance. This is against the backdrop of a recent integration of two legacy business divisions which resulted in the leadership team having to redesign the operating model at the end of Q4 2013, while removing a significant amount of cost out of the business.
The focus on cost will remain a critical challenge for 2014, but creating a culture built upon pride, ambition and performance is a key strategic objective to enable them to realise the customer, digital and growth deliverables we have across Legal & General.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Early on, I recognised that a key lever to delivering a culture of higher ambition was our approach to performance management. It was clear from interviews with line managers and focus groups that performance management was seen as a mechanistic, once a year process which drove pay review decisions rather than a tool that enabled and motivated our people to understand ‘what’ they do, and ‘how’ they do it, links to Legal & General’s brand, strategy and business results.
The outcome from this initial diagnostic created the business case to lead a review of our performance management approach. The project was set up as a business-led initiative; performance management has to be visibly and inspirationally led by the business, therefore setting the project up in a way which demonstrated this was critical to our success.
Our biggest single deliverable was to change their performance rating scales from six to five ratings, a complete overhaul of the ratings framework, and the introduction of ratings and definitions to measure the Legal & General ‘behaviours’. The project team piloted these with 1500 line managers and employees during the mid-year review process, and then successfully launched them for the year-end process, all during a time of significant change. The feedback has been universally positive, and they have definitely created a legacy to be proud of.
What are your HR plans for the future?
In the short term, the focus will be on the need to embed the changes made to performance management that were implemented in 2013. The focus for this year is on building the ‘will and skill’ of line managers and employees; I honestly believe that it’s the ‘hearts and minds’ emphasis that will really create the culture of higher ambition - which of course, need to be built on the solid foundations of the principles and process enhancements.
We’re currently piloting some e-learning and workshops based around core performance management principles - strategic, fair and effective, and drives ambition - our line managers need to be equipped to have meaningful conversations with their people to ensure the firm’s principles come to life.
At a business unit level, it will be creating an ambition of higher performance with the executive leadership team and providing them with a common approach which they can then cascade to their own teams. A continued focus on employee engagement also remains a critical activity, which will start by helping the executive leadership agree how they want to communicate their common purpose, and the step change activities they want their own teams to focus on.