When an education provider needed major strategic change, it was on this HR professional to ensure organisational alignment throughout the entire process.
In her last role before becoming Skills and Learning Lead: Education Partnerships with Lockheed Martin Australia, Naomi Holding CPHR managed a five-year change program for an online education provider.
The company was managing a significant shift in organisational focus, from vocational training to a higher-education model. That change was brought on by a partnership with an Australian university, and it introduced entirely new requirements across the business.
“HR led the project that would align the values, vision and mission of the company,” says Holding.
“I worked with the senior leadership team to create a very clear alignment for everybody, from individual roles through to the broader organisational strategy.”
“If a business doesn’t succeed in this, activities won’t match the vision and it won’t achieve what it wants to achieve.”
Holding used this program as her capstone project to gain HR Certification via AHRI’s Senior Leadership Pathway.
“I’ve worked and taught in the people, culture and performance space for over 25 years, but I don’t have a formal qualification in HR. Achieving HR certification provides external validation of my capabilities and experience,” she says.
Having ensured as much support as possible from the leadership team, Holding designed a planning cycle that began with strategic goals.
These were broken down into operational modules, then further split into faculties and departments, and, finally, into action plans for individual employees.
“Then there was constructive alignment of those plans all the way back up to the five-year plan,” she says. “Those plans were revisited regularly.”
Leveraging a custom-built HRIS to ensure alignment
Tracking of each part of the plan was conducted within an entirely new HR Information System (HRIS) which Holding worked with the IT department to custom-build to meet the company’s unique needs.
The newly created system utilised Microsoft Dynamics 365 as the cornerstone software. Unique PowerApps were developed to enhance the user experience. This resulted in user-friendly visual dashboards which enabled individuals to develop a clear understanding of the parts of the process that mattered to them. This could be their personal progress towards professional development plans, or 360-degree feedback against the general capability framework.
“Every individual could see what their impact was on the KPIs, and how their work and their talent related to the bigger-picture goals.” – Naomi Holding CPHR, Skills and Learning Lead: Education Partnerships, Lockheed Martin Australia
It could also be a collaborative goal, such as team-based progress which incorporated live data from a variety of sources including student cases, subject results, learning analytics and a wide range of projects.
Holding’s project also helped identify priority areas for HR to focus on, and KPI deliverables, and delivered the associated documentation and protocols related to all processes and policies.
“Every individual could see what their impact was on the KPIs, and how their work and their talent related to the bigger-picture goals,” she says.
Most importantly, every individual sang off the same song sheet in terms of the organisation’s values.
“After a little while, I could ask anybody about the company’s purpose and how they fitted in with that,” says Holding.
“Their understandings of the company values were all the same, all clearly held and valued. Most importantly, people felt they were making a difference.”
Driving performance through tailor-made development plans
Perhaps controversially, at least in comparison with the more traditional hierarchical management-model approaches, individuals in the organisation were able to choose their own development options.
“Because people understood their purpose and role, and their alignment back to the big picture, they could manage their own performance, in a sense. They identified what they needed to do to step up, and were supported in doing that.
“For example, some staff came from a vocational background and didn’t have the qualifications to be recognised as a lecturer or academic. We created a structure where they worked in an academic assistant role, so their future pathway was clear.”
Holding was able to address any concerns from the leadership team about giving this level of autonomy to employees by reporting back on the success of the approach.
“Most leaders saw there was huge value in this process,” she says. “For those who might have originally questioned it, it quickly became clear that allowing people to manage their own development was working, so it actually became a non-issue.”
What also became clear was the sense that people felt appreciated – by the organisation, by the partner university and by the students.
“They felt their work was highly valued,” says Holding. “Nothing boosts performance more than that.”
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