HR Solutions to Clients: Case Study

This consultancy assignment presented as a problem with the company’s culture. The business, a manufacturing company, was haunted by historic problems with bullying, inter-departmental rivalry was now at an unhealthy level and people were becoming stressed. The management team was not clear what intervention they required, but they were aware that something needed to change. Following preliminary diagnostic interviews with key personnel, it became apparent that the culture of this company was almost exclusively task focused. People were recruited, trained and promoted on their ability to deliver the technical aspects of the business whilst insufficient attention was paid to the ‘soft’ skills of organisational life, such as the ability to work together in a team or to manage and motivate staff. As one might expect in such a non-people-centered environment, people were not adept at handling emotions or difficult situations, they did not have the frame of reference or language to deal with such alien issues. Unsurprisingly the HR systems were lacking and offered little to encourage quality, interpersonal interactions. It also became clear that the different technical disciplines lacked congruent goals; there was no overarching framework that bound the teams together.

There were a number of other issues which will not be addressed here should they distract from this particular case study. For simplicity, the solutions that mapped onto the above issues will be reported.
The business needed to raise the profile of interpersonal skills alongside the technical skills. But precisely which interpersonal skills did it value? Kisane facilitated a number of workshops in which individuals from different teams came together and discussed which attitudes and behaviours helped produce excellent results at work and conversely which hindered them. Using the outputs from these sessions, Kisane defined a bespoke set of ‘Values’ that described the interpersonal skills that helped the business perform at its best. Demonstrating value comes through actions, not simply words. Kisane took these value statements and redesigned the HR systems to include criteria that selected, appraised, trained and promoted people who displayed these behaviours. The workshops were also used to define a shared purpose (Mission) and ambition (Vision) for the business. These became the guidelines for departmental decisions and inter-departmental cooperation.

For such a simple intervention, people were really excited by the new perspective and new opportunities this offered to their work life.