Business Transformation HR Dinner

Business Transformation HR Dinner
Published: 23 January 2020

Tuesday 21st January saw Berwick Partners hold their first HR dinner of 2020, which was attended by 35 HR leaders from a wide range of industries. Our speaker was Helen Miller (Talent, Culture and Communications Director at The Very Group), who spoke passionately about their transformation from a traditional print catalogue business to one of the UK’s biggest online retailers, as well as their very recent rebrand from Shop Direct.

The focus of the evening was on the direct correlation between the engagement of employees on the transformation journey, and the subsequent success of the change itself. The key points that Helen made about how this worked for The Very Group were:

  • Leader-led change. Ensuring that the senior management team were all on board, were ’leading from the front’, and were accessible to everyone.
  • Creating a very clear and ambitious vision and end goal whilst also celebrating success along the way.
  • Hiring external talent from across the UK and different sectors that included “role models, storytellers and non-hierarchical people” to encourage all employees to join them on the transformation journey.
  • Ensuring the HR function ‘walked the talk’ by disrupting the traditional model through adopting agile working methodologies that included removing annual appraisals and the performance management system.

Above all, they strived for transparency across the business in terms of their messages and the way that they worked with each other, as well as ensuring that the employees affected by the changes were treated fairly and were not forgotten, and that the business did all it could to support them by offering re-skilling.

Helen was also candid about what mistakes they made and lessons that they learnt along the way, including how not to underestimate the level of resistance required by people, the need to “slow down to go quicker,” and to always try and put themselves in other colleagues’ shoes.

Out of the HR leaders who attended the event, 85% said that they were currently going through a major business transformation, and all said that HR was involved in this with the impact of people being a key consideration. Helen’s story therefore resonated with all, with a high level of engagement from everyone in the room and some interesting questions arising for her.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and we would all like to thank Helen again for her time.

For further information on Berwick Partners’ work please contact Amelia Black, Consultant in the Human Resources Practice at Berwick Partners.

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