Mismanaged HR

When HR goes wrong or is poorly managed your business can suffer untold damages. Not only will you and your people suffer in the short term but in the long term you may have difficulty recruiting, retaining staff, experience low morale and productivity from your teams. 
 
As a business owner your turnover and profit targets are only met when you have an effective, skilled, well-motivated and engaged team. 
In this article we take a look at a few examples which have been published on Glassdoor. We have kept the individual profiles and the companies anonymous. 
 

What’s the issue?

“The senior leadership team in finance are a closed group and if you are not in the group, you are shut out” 
 
Why had this has happened?

This has happened because of the culture and management style of the finance team. They have formed such a tight bond that it can be difficult to be accepted into the ‘pack’. They may also not see the impact their hierarchical management style is impacting on others within their own teams and potentially across the wider business. 

What could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place?
To prevent this from happening you should look at:
  1. The environment within which the team works. Is it an open plan office or are individual team members working in an office? If the latter, do they operate an open-door policy? Look to change the working environment so it is more conducive to team working.
  2. Communication – Look at how the team communicate with each other. Do they respond to each other only by email or do they go and see people within their team? Think about introducing weekly team meetings and asking for other members of the wider team for their input and involvement. This widens your expertise and knowledge within each project.
  3. Socials – Look to implement team building and social events 
What should the business do to fix this?
  1. Hold a team meeting to discuss the concerns that have been raised. Obviously issues like this can take time to resolve and old habits are hard to break. With this in mind ask the whole team to come up solutions which could include increased internal communication workflows, socials and internal networking activities.  
  2. The senior management team should actively seek out new people to ‘lunch’ with from their wider team to improve communication and inter team relationships.
  3. Consider people management training for key members of the senior management team.
What’s the issue? 
“No direction at all from senior management” 
 
Why this has happened?

Senior management is seen but not heard – by this we mean they haven’t communicated their strategy effectively. People therefore do not understand how, why or what they are doing, relates to the bigger picture. They have no purpose. This can cause engagement issues, high turnover and low productively. People like to be part of something special and with no direction there is no purpose.

What could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place
 
To prevent this from happening you should look at:
  1. Communicate your strategy with your teams. Invite them to challenge and have input on key deliverables like targets. By engaging your teams within the strategy planning process, you will know whether they are on-board or not and enthused with the challenges set.
  2. Review and communicate progress. Regular check in with your teams and with individuals can be carried out informally weekly, monthly or quarterly. You can also consider 6 monthly team reviews to report on top level strategic progress and if needed realign to ensure delivery of the strategy.
  3. Everyone is key. When employees understand how they fit into a wider strategy they can take ownership for their part in it. Set individuals with their own targets and ensure they understand their role with projects. Think about making this part of their personal development plans and ensure they have the resources, support and training needed to make it happen. 
What should the business do to fix this?
  1. For any business to get this kind of feedback from staff is worrying. Initially you will need to hold a check in meeting with the team(s) this could be a town hall meeting or similar where everyone within the business attends. Don’t just present to them what you want them to hear – Ask for questions and give good answers and if you don’t know the answer make sure you find out and give everyone the answer at a later date – bring your people into the fold.
  2. Consider running a scheme to engage employees to come up with ideas on how to achieve targets or fix a business problem. Strategic information can be confidential so only share what you can. Get department heads speaking to their departments about what they have been doing and how their work relates to other departments within the business. 
What’s the issue? 
“Being part of a small company owned by a larger entity we can feel a little out of touch with the rest of the company” 
 
Why this has happened?
This is a very common issue for business with subsidiaries. Poor communication can lead to a lack of involvement. Where an acquisition or merger has occurred, often due to cultural differences, employees can feel disconnected, undervalued and threatened.
 
What could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place
  1. As we discussed earlier communicating a strategy is key and this is even more important when you have subsidiaries or a group of companies working under one banner.  Communicating how those employees within a business support the goals of the wider group is really key.
  2. Ensure the CEO is visable and has a guiding voice. Podcasts and videos are a great way to get messages across and on a regular basis. Open up communication channels with regular newsletters, create an intranet if you don’t have one and make sure it is regularly updated. Ensure communication is two way. Give your employees a voice.
  3. At a subsidiary level ensure that all staff understand their role. Hold teamworking events and socials to foster relationships and improve productivity and engagement across the business.  
What should the business do to fix this?
This isn’t an issue which can be fixed overnight but when you get feedback like this, it needs a collaborative approach between all parties.  
 

A key message of unity and strategy needs to be communicated by the CEO to all parties. Start with creating and utilizing the communication channels that are already available to you. Don’t delay in getting a message out because you want to have the intranet first. Email will do to start or even better face to face team meetings – communicate that you are looking to implement new communication methods in the next few months and keep your staff updated with progress. 

Ensure you have your vision and mission statements and communicate these to your teams. Make sure each business within the group has their own vision and mission statements and that these support the wider goals of the group.  

In order to improve awareness of other member firms and their employees within the whole group, encourage employees to take part in case studies, podcasts and to write articles about their role and their area of specialism which can be shared with everyone. 

Communicate the good stuff, the positive and the wins. Don’t hide the bad stuff, but communicate it in a sensitive and supportive way to employees. 

What’s the issue? 
“Too many of the good people have left or are leaving” 
 
Why this has happened

If your business is haemorrhaging staff, then you have a wider issue. This could be down to management style or a change in management. It can also be down to bullying or harassment in the workplace. 

There may also be a change in business direction and people don’t feel like they are on the same journey. Perhaps the salary is no longer competitive or there has been a salary freeze.  

There are lots of reasons as to why staff could be leaving – but there is a saying that people leave a manager not a business – so let’s start there!
 
What could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place
  1. Review your HR Strategy and put policies and procedures in place to ensure your business doesn’t suffer the effects of high staff turnover.
  2. Review the whole employee experience, from recruitment right through to termination. Plot each journey and what you want the employer journey to be. Make sure this employer journey is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART)
  3. Review your recruitment process and make positive changes and remove any barriers. Make sure that new hires understand your culture and ethos and are a great fit for your business.
  4. Review in detail your onboarding process. If you don’t have one create one gaining insight and feedback from your existing employees and implement improvements. Again, remove any negative barriers which could be lack of planning an organisation.
  5. Review your personal development procedures and if your business doesn’t carry these out, make sure you have a plan to do so and actually implement them. Reward the good and make sure you have training, mentoring and support in place to help employees with any skills or knowledge shortages.
What should the business do to fix this?
When you have a large number of employees leaving, this is a time to learn from them and take that feedback to improve your business. 
 

Hold exit interviews with everyone leaving and find out the real reason they are going. Recommend an impartial person from within HR or an HR Consultant to conduct these interviews so leaving employees feel they can be honest about why they are leaving. 

Then review every bit of feedback you get.  Take it along with your recommendations to senior management, who can then take note and implement actions. 

Keep reviewing and don’t forget to engage and involve your remaining staff. When people leave, for what-ever reason, it can be disruptive.  Consider an employee engagement survey to get a good underpinning of what people like and dislike and what they want to see improve. 

Getting feedback like this can be a real insight into what is of importance to your employees. Usually, you are surprised to learn what motivates and demotivates a person. 
 
Please Note: Just because an employee gives you feedback doesn’t mean you have to do it. Only that you should consider it. But don’t take feedback and do nothing at all with it. This will only make matters worse.
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