David Enser is co-Founder of the RES Forum and Head of International Mobility and Rewards Innovation for adidas Group. He spoke to HR Grapevine about the issue of centralising mandates versus engaging a workforce.
“One of the biggest challenges I deal with in my role is assessing and defining how we best achieve organisational impact as a central HR function. In many organisations this is a quick and simple task; the HRD says ‘it shall be so’ and the organisation follows. However, this is certainly not so for many organisations I have come across recently.
“At a recent RES Forum event this discussion permeated throughout a whole day of fairly disparate topics. It’s all well and good discussing trends in HR policies, systems, usage or functional value propositions but, without a clear way to achieve real organisational impact, some discussions may be doomed to failure. So how to gain impact?”
Understanding perceptions of value
“Firstly, I would challenge any HR function to ask itself whether it truly understands what the organisation expects of it. And what does it wish the organisation to understand about it in return?
“Although it’s fundamental, I believe that many enterprises fail to come to grips with this relatively simple question. Before you can seek to define a blueprint for an organisation (in my case, how should a mobility programme look and inspire others to feel, think and act) you first need to stake out the territory and engage in a dialogue with stakeholders to ask what value means to them. For some, mobility’s value may be the proper management of a fairly complex yet transactional process.
“For others, it might be a keen business enabler of organisational change and the development of a truly global talent pool. And still further, for others it might be a key employer brand tool essential to attract future talent with the lure of an international career – a real pull for those millennials intent on a global career.”
Alternatives HR models - CoE/HR BP model
“So, role chartering’s done and an understanding of differing perceptions of value taken on board, so how best to deliver?
“This is when I ask myself if the classic model of HR Business Partner, expert global function and regional delivery organisation is really fit for purpose? The answer, of course, is that it may be for some but certainly not for others.
“Without the luxury of a central, non-negotiable mandate for all areas of a business to act in a common way, you may struggle to achieve true global roll-out unless you engage with group businesses and stakeholders in a different way.
“For example, how to find agreement for a company-wide global policy or initiative within an international group of entities with their own P&L responsibility and with no obligation to follow central global practices?
“I’m not sure I have a definitive answer for myself on this yet – though it’s nice to mull it over. Maybe I’ll go and check in with my business stakeholders again first and see what they need me to be before I make my mind up.”