11 years ago I designed and implemented Rolling Performance Appraisals for my employer at the time. This was one of the easiest implementations I had ever done.
Because it was driven by the Chief Executive who wanted to do things differently. I’d put the suggestion forward some months before as a result of some feedback from the Times 100 and Best Companies results in addition to some feedback from our people who wanted more conversations with their manager, only to be told we weren’t ready for it.
The Chief Exec, following a conversation with a Business Consultant had been convinced the rolling appraisals were a great thing to introduce, and so I was asked to meet with him about his new idea and how quickly we could implement.
The process, already designed, was tweaked slightly, managers briefed and people engaged. By the end of the first year it had proven to be successful and with some slight additional amendments for the following year, everyone seemed happy.
Throughout the rollout the Chief Exec and myself had had some conversations about the process and I found myself brave enough to ask why ‘his idea’ had been seen as a business benefit whilst mine was a bit too forward thinking.
He explained that I had planted the seed, but had focused at the time on the process instead of the benefits. The process appeared to be too time consuming, managers and their team members would never go for it, after all, they struggled to meet to complete an annual appraisal, and whilst the finished article wasn’t too far away from my original concept, I hadn’t hit the spot with my delivery.
I hadn’t firstly explained how this would meet the CEO’s wish to move up the ranks as a Times Top 100 (we got to Number 2 the year after), nor had I focused on how many issues this could resolve more quickly, how it could improve business performance and ultimately the bottom line. I had instead focused on the ‘fluffy stuff’, the engagement, the continuous development for our people, and without the bottom line all he saw was the additional time – and more importantly the additional time away from the business.
The suggestion though had stayed with him though because of the seed I had planted and as he was always looking for ways to be seen as a different kind of employer, he started doing some exploring of his own. So when it was mentioned by a Business Consultant, who wanted to charge him a fortune for something that was already created and sat in a drawer who was able to focus on the financials of this sort of initiative, he instantly wanted it.
I learnt fast from this lesson and since then have always focused on the financial benefits of anything that we implemented in HR. Not everything will have a financial figure, and it won’t always save time either, and in these instances you’ll need to find out what your people, your leaders or your CEO have on their priority list if you want to get ideas over the line.
Whilst working on a strategy with a client recently whilst they had done a lot of the leg work and included a lot of the ‘fluffy stuff’, no numbers and key measurables were visible at all. What were the outcomes? Why would the Board say yes? What was in it for leaders? And what was in it for the people? We looked at some of the cost savings that could be associated if the strategy was implemented successfully and planted the seeds by speaking the language of the Board in terms of numbers and answered all of the questions, and then some.
It was the first HR strategy that had ever been approved with a resounding yes first time round.
The truth is, when it comes to people, not everything that will benefit them will be of interest to the business and the numbers won’t always add up. But try if you can to make the numbers work and ensure the language is tailored to your audience if you want a BIG Fat yes for your proposal.
Not one for thinking outside the box – mainly because she believes there isn’t one, Kelly founded Chrysalis in 2014 after being appointed as the UK’s Youngest HR Director (something she was told she couldn’t achieve with two young sons), after feeling that consultancy needed to more people and less process driven because – well that’s what gives consultants a bad reputation.
Through her consulting, coaching, talks, presentations, workshops and books, she rips up the rule book and helps people create what’s best for them, their teams and their organisations – not what’s best for their competitors.