There was an error in this gadget

Friday, 16 June 2017

The HR, L&D, OD relationship at it's best is...

Salad, not soup!

I once heard this analogy for explaining isolation, diversity and inclusion and equality, but it strikes me it's quite apt to explain how HR, L&D and OD should interact also.

I follow the hashtag, #ldinsights on a Friday morning and the question this morning was...

"Can we still look at L&D in isolation instead of as part of systemic change?"

And there was, as always, a brilliant on-line discussion.

The immediate follow-ups for me were: "Did we ever?" and "How could you?". However, another part of me also gets quite frustrated that we try and either justify the distinctions or 'mush it all up', and that's when I was reminded of the 'salad not soup' (or stir fry, not soup) analogy, because actually the straight answer to 'can we look at x in isolation' is actually always: yes... yes, we could. But the real question is 'what's the value-add of that?'

I don't think L&D should be looked at in isolation, but to let it morph into OD or remain (as it's sometimes seen) in HR's shadow aren't the only options.

So, yes by all means chew on a cucumber or bite into a tomoto on their own but, better still, why not mix them up to make a vibrant salad and experience a variety of flavour and colour that just works so damn well together.

On the other hand, lets not go too far and mush it all up - yes, soup is lovely but many of the ingredients can lose their distinctiveness and we certainly don't see them stand out in any way.
In a work place, the dominant function will become what we see. Too much of one ingredient consistently isn't as beneficial as a balance/the right thing dominating for the relevant situation.

Neither the stand-alone approach nor the soup scenario help people to see the benefit of working collaboratively or adapting the balance, though they'll both suit some in certain circumstance. So my thinking is that making like salad (sliced or diced!) is, for the most part, the best of both worlds.

So, that's my two pence worth!



Find me on/at:

  • Twitter: @DamsonHR
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

Monday, 5 June 2017

Turnover is not your biggest problem...

...But why not?

To give this blog some context, this blog comes at a time when I've just focused on exit interview data and before I dig deep into the results of a recent pulse survey.

However, let me be upfront, this blog is not about providing answers but about seeking them!

I will though, answer it in part.

The thing I feel makes turnover a comparatively small problem is because it falls into the 'you can't do anything about it' box. Once someone has gone, they're well, gone. The question 'why?' at this point is usually too little, too late.

Yes, it's important to understand why and to try and stem the loss of too many good staff (however you define them in your organisation), but I see so much energy focussed on wondering why people leave an organisations that is wasted because it could be spent focussing on the people who remain...
...In fact, had that have been done, we often wouldn't be in the position of losing (usually/often the good!) people in the first place.

I don't know about your experience, but in mine, exit interviews are often full of examples of people who mentally and emotionally checked out long before they resigned because when we did have them they didn't feel heard, valued, sufficiently rewarded and so on.

Image result for exit interviews

It's as much a problem, when people are asked to/need to leave (re redundancies for example), as it is when people chose to. We focus on the leaver with outplacement, meetings, consultation and more and not the impact on the 'remainers' (Yes, I know that links to another issue but let's not go there!)

Either way, I don't believe organisations do enough to focus on staff who stay and especially those who stay (for now) and are disgruntled, disengaged, cruising, just doing enough, adding little value, bring no fresh thinking, quiet, staid and so on.

Turnover is, in many ways, a good thing. It can mean you've done a lot right (eg trained someone so they're attractive to someone else), it can mean that you've handled what's not right (enabling someone who doesn't fit to move on), it can lead to fresh thinking, give you a chance to restructure a team, or promote others for example.

Even if turnover is a problem for you, it's a great trigger for reflection, understanding and action (if you use it as such).

But there isn't much of an upside, if any, to those stayers who feel and/act as previously mentioned  - the disgruntled, disengaged, cruising-kind etc.

Whilst I appreciate this may not be a large group in your organisation, I can bet you they're the ones that keep you up at night. And let me be clear, they're not always a/the problem either...
...Imagine if we could harness their frustrations and the ideas they have to make things better?
If you've ever seen "Undercover boss" you'll know the type of thing I mean.

So, here's the question - if I've got a point (and feel free to challenge me if this isn't your experience), why do organisations get dragged into understanding turnover more than paying genuine, regular, hard, consistent, high value focus on those employees we have?

Note: I am not saying no attention is paid to an existing workforce, rather than we just let employee life tick along more often than not. Nor is this a reflection on my workplace as opposed to some general curiosity!

Discussion trigger - Thoughts welcome,

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Back to it with baby steps

Back to blogging!

It's been a while since I last blogged, or at least since I last published one! I'm often thinking, regularly writing and occasionally sharing my ideas. But, I've been doubting that what I've got to say could be said better than someone else is already saying it.

But, I've made a decision. I'm going to say it/share it anyway.

Last week I lead a creative writing session at our wellbeing week, and I've been thinking since about some of the fab presentations I saw.
Several people hesitated to share their writing, but did it anyway. And there was lots that was really good. And more than that, it was inspiring.

To feel the fear and do it anyway is something I've tried to apply to doing things. But I've not been so brave of late. Last week I decided to up my game, and today I went for it. Maybe not in a big way, but who said it had to be in a big way?!

I ran a meeting that was a little out of the norm. I wasn't sure it would work, and some might say it didn't. It was good to try though - same is often too safe and too boring. Afterwards, my fab internal comms colleague Kofi Kramo complimented me about my willingness to do something different, to just to something. Whilst some are busy talking about the hold-backs and hold-ups, I (he reminded me) do something.

All these little experiences of late have lead me here, so that's it for now, I'm just putting it out there. My lessons of the last few weeks are to:
- allow yourself to be inspired
- harness what you've done before (you must've taken some bold decisions in the past and survived!)
- listen to your champions
- do something different or brace, but mainly...
- just do something.

It's not really even a blog I suppose, just some rambling, but it is a (re-)start.

And, it might just inspire you to (re-)start something. Please share if it does.


PS - I am not ruling out blogs on the creative writing session (it wasn't all plain sailing) and the madness of my meeting (when I'm over the madness!)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Wrapping your messages - Internal brand

The brand is not the message, but it matters.

I've been working on an internal branding project and initial presentations have focussed on clarifying why we need it, given that it's a new concept in the organisation. I've found the following useful in explaining it:

Imagine that you've a really nice gift to give... would you choose to wrap it badly in second-hand, flimsy, grimy paper? Highly unlikely.

Now imagine how you'd feel receiving that badly wrapped gift in that shoddy paper, compounded by the fact it's unsuitable for you (or the occasion) eg happy 1st Christmas, green paper... when it's your 21st birthday, it's June and you hate green. Not good right?

I personally think it would be better to give a considered (not necessarily perfect, expensive) gift in especially nice paper as opposed to a nice gift poorly packaged in poor quality paper - at least you'd feel like you were worthy of some effort and you'd have the experience of an 'ooh' moment* when you initially see your wrapped parcel.

Now imagine getting a rubbish gift (by your definition), wrapped stunningly, wonderfully, beautifully in lovely appropriate paper. That's right, it obvious the wrapping doesn't make the gift any better.
And let's not imagine receiving a rubbish present badly wrapped in rubbish wrapping paper!

Would you be excited by a gift that looked like this?
My point (though I'm sure you've already got it!) is...

Internal brand is like good quality wrapping paper... It isn't the gift itself (eg the message) and it isn't pretending to be, but it should make you excited rather than nervous about what you're about to get/hear and reflect the quality of what you're getting into.

So, make sure your internal brand is...
  • Authentic - this is key as it has to reflect what the organisation is (or at least what it can demonstrate it is aspiring to be)
  • Polished - is it good enough in its own right?
  • Appropriate - reflecting the organisation, and for the audience (staff)
  • Consistent - in its application, as well as its quality?
  • Fluid - can it wrap a range of messages, and evolve?

Let's not forget, a great internal brand isn't going to mask poor(ly managed) messages... but let's remember, a great brand will enhance the experience and perception of who you are and what you have to say. And, your staff deserve that just as much as your customers.

Looks good huh! Wouldn't you be curious about what could be inside?
Does your organisation have an internal brand, and how do you ensure it's the full package?


Sunday, 31 January 2016

Month one 2016 - Learn, grow...

...It's been anything but slow!

January 2016 has been busy, busy, busy! So much so, that I haven't done much of the laugh bit in my blog title.

They say variety is the spice of life and its something I agree with, but I've recently given myself a talking to as I've been pushed to accept that there are times when I have to slow down or stop juggling, and focus on one or a few things.

Jack/ie may do 'all' trades but they master none. For me, the impact has been tiredness (yes, I know it's only January) and the dropping of the admin' ball. I can't do it all, well and consistently. That's the (re-)learn bit!

This month I've played all my roles, and there are a few professionally as well as personally.

As I firmly believe my personal development message begins with me, I'm going to challenge myself to slow down for Feb, and here's how I'm going to do it. I'm going to...
  • Think about why I do each thing
  • Look for the overlaps in what I do
  • Be better at using dead time such as train delays (though I usually work through those too!)
  • Practice saying 'no' 
  • Look to the future, rather than do the now by asking myself 'does all you're doing meet your long term aims?'
  • Stop thinking about how much I have on and remind myself I DO have a choice
  • Challenge others to do their bit
  • Ask for support - hence sharing this with you
  • Blog in working hours, rather than after an evening of reflection!
  • Look after myself more and take time out to rest, eat, have fun

I know I can do it all, just not at the same time! That's the growing bit.

Wish me luck... And laughs!

PS - How, if all, have you learnt, laughed and grown this January?

Thursday, 31 December 2015

"It's been a long year" and other reflections

Make your reflections more than chit-chat.

If you're going to reflect in a way that's meaningful, responses to the question: "how was your year (past)?" have to be more than short statements like "it's been a tough year", "it was fun", "it's been interesting" especially if you're asking yourself the question!

Overhearing a recent conversation reflecting on how 2015 had been, I heard the response... "It's been a long year" which struck me as the most silly response of them all. It may have felt like a long year, but the year in real terms had the same 365 days as the year before!

I wanted to ask 'why' and more to help them really understand what their year had been like, but instead I simply accepted that the conversation was just polite chit-chat and nothing more.

It did prove though that an open question won't always get you a full answer and therefore how important it is to ask the right question(s) and probe if you're really interested in reflecting on how a year has gone.

Questions that help us reflect in a meaningful way include:
- What did I learn this year? ("Nothing", is never true!)
- What were the highlights of the year?
- What challenged me this year?
- Why did 'x' go wrong? (Not the negative, self-blaming "why did I get 'x' wrong!")
- How did I get through my problems?
- In what ways have I grown this year?

I'm sure there are lots more questions that help us to reflect with more than a short statement but these are, in my experience, a good set to start with.

The answers to these should help you to understand your year past and propel you forward into the new one - How would you answer them and what are you manifesting for 2016?

Because that should be the greater point - not to stay rooted in what has been, but to use the responses to learn and grow. And so, in keeping with the title of this blog I've one more question... Who or what made you laugh last year?

Happy New Year to you all,

  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR (Twitter)
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD

Monday, 28 September 2015

The trouble with 'Training'

Training vs Learning and introducing Performance

Image from


I’m a huge fan of training/learning/development/performance interventions – it’s been my ‘bread and butter’ for many years and I believe that organisations who do it well will have happy, engaged, productive, capable staff who in turn provide excellent services and results. But whilst learning is something we should aim for as a constant, training should not be done constantly and just for the sake of it.

In my experience if you mention ‘training’ many people will still think of a classroom based intervention. Hence I do prefer the term ‘learning’. When we talk about training, we are lead down the road of asking ‘what training do you want/need to do’ whereas talking learning gives us the better option of ‘what do you want to learn?’– A subtle difference but an important one as one focusses on the intervention and the other the expected outcome.

When I started in this area the role, my role was ‘Training Officer’. Then came ‘training and development’ titles followed by ‘learning and development’ jobs. Recent discussions in the Learning and Development field have suggested that T&D and L&D should in fact be more concentrated on ‘Performance and Development’. It is a view I appreciate because in a work context training should be about improving performance (individual and organisational). It also means, more importantly imho, that training is not seen as outside of wider organisational objectives and agendas.
When we focus on the expected outcome – improved performance being one - we are more likely to choose the right intervention, may save time (away) and it’s often less costly too. I know that suggesting someone reads articles, looks on YouTube, spends time with a colleague or takes on a project is less obvious and may be seen as less prestigious, but it might be what’s really needed.

When offering training and/ development, as well as understanding what it is we’re trying to achieve we should also be mindful of how the ‘offer’ of development will be received.
In some cases, such as with those courses that offer time away from the day-job or those of high value, training is seen as a reward or compensation (eg “I can’t give you a payrise, but I can compensate that by putting you on this expensive course”!). In other cases, it is seen as a punishment - your sent on something whether you want or need to, at a time that's not right for you. In the worst cases, it is seen actually a benefit to the manager rather than their ‘subordinate’ - for example where a manager sends someone on a time management course rather than look at workload, a confidence course instead of offering praise and coaching or where a manager doesn’t tackle poor customer service but sends an employee on a customer service course. That's when training, especially on it’s own, is not enough...
...And that last attitude/approach is one that really grates on me!
Whatever the intervention and whatever the reason for it, one thing is for sure – the value must be measured by more than a ‘happy sheet’ or training/learning/development/performance-passionate people like me aren’t happy!

But more than that, it's not about us. What matters is the learner, the organisation and those it serves. And it's best served by people who are developed not just trained.

There, I’ve said it!
What do you think?
- Does your organisation focus on learning or training?
- Do you look for the right intervention to meet an actual outcome?
- Is 'training' used/seen to be about reward, punishment or a lack of management?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your views,

For more:

  • Contact me using the 'Contact form' above right
  • Follow me at: @DamsonHR (Twitter)
  • Call direct on: 07887 643807
  • LinkedIn: Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD