Workforce strategy and the importance of good communications

SLT had an excellent briefing yesterday on the progress towards the Workforce Strategy, led by our interim head of HR Sarah Getley. Many of you will have been involved in the workshops and interviews to seek your views on what we need to do, and I’m very grateful for your input. I’ll try to give you some feedback in this blog entry and more widely in the coming weeks.

In essence, we are a pretty happy ship, to borrow a phrase, but there’s more that we could do to go from “good to great”. Much of that comes down to some measures which are easy to describe, but much harder to implement.

The most striking aspect was the alignment between the views on communications between managers and their teams. Being absolutely honest, all of us in leadership positions could do better. It was surprising how many of our colleagues, particularly in the younger cohort, are frustrated by our not recognising good performance and perceive an apparent unwillingness to manage poor performance. By that, I don’t mean awards ceremonies or resorting to formal processes, but rather congratulating and thanking colleagues in public when things go well, and having honest conversations in private when things aren’t going as they should.  The same is true of our uptake on the My Performance Conversation (MPC), which despite our best efforts, struggles to get much above 50% uptake. As we implement the Workforce Strategy, we’ll be looking for simplified systems that encourage meaningful communications – after all, the other finding is that you prefer to hear news from your line manager more than by any other means.  Let’s make that happen.

It didn’t come as a surprise that you feel that we spend too much time in meetings, and I have written before in this blog about that very issue. Apparently a snapshot of SLT/WLT/OMT diaries suggest that we spend up to 85% of our working day in meetings.  Let’s have another go at this, but my old measure remains true – if you’re checking your emails while in a meeting, you shouldn’t be there, as clearly there’s something more useful that you could be doing.

Lastly for this blog entry, Smart Working is hugely popular, but there’s clearly more to be done, and it’s more in building trust between leaders and led than in technology or infrastructure. I’ll be giving this more thought in the coming weeks and months, as I will the wider aspects of implementing the Workforce Strategy.

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