Interview: Raj Kaur-Hooper, HR Engagement Manager, Twinings

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Rajdeep spoke on organisational values and how to get the most out of them on our HRZone webinar, 'Organisational Values: are they worth the bother?" Click the link to watch her full presentation and the Q&A discussion that followed. She has worked in talent/development/HR engagement roles for 10 years in a variety of industries including retail and construction and, more recently, FMCG.

With time spent both in businesses who truly live by their values and others where values are nothing but words on a screen saver, Rajdeep has a deep understanding of the impact true and effective values can have in a workplace environment.

1) One of your specialties is coaching. What are the secrets to successfully coaching an individual?

Listening!

Not just to what they are saying but how they are saying it and also observing, it’s amazing how much you can pick up from a person if you keep your mind open and concentrate on them and only them during that time, rather than starting to think about what you’re going to say or do next.

Coaching is something people may perceive to be something that happens with your manager or a professional coach, but actually to adopt a true coaching culture it has to be something that everyone can do and everyone has access to.

2) What are some key initiatives you've implemented at Twinings that you feel have really made a difference?

The things that have really made a difference are around encouraging a high level of trust throughout the organisation…..at all levels. We want to drive a culture where hierarchy is disregarded and the most junior member of the team has the confidence and the access to the Managing Director to ask questions or even challenge the direction of the business. That’s important because to be a successful business everyone in the team needs to be really behind and have a clear understanding of our vision and strategic goals.

To help adopt this culture we have already ran a series of two ‘energisers’ which everyone in the business attends regardless of role or level. The first one was about high trust & rapport and the 2nd about personal resilience. The days were balanced with personal reflection time as well as group work and activity. After the first event which happened in functional teams there was a clear demand from employees to work more cross-functionally, so for the Resilience energiser the teams were split at rando. Both events were a huge success and gave people the opportunity to form relationships that they may not naturally hold in their day-to-day roles. Above all else it’s helping to live and embed a ‘healthy disrespect for hierarchy’.

Our next initiative is designed to help everyone play to their A game and reach their full potential with a series of skills development modules, which again are open to everyone through the business to attend.

3) What are the key challenges of employee engagement that you've identified during your work?

The key challenges for me have always been resource, whether that’s budget or time. To drive a high level of engagement throughout any organisation takes both! You have to invest continually to keep your employees engaged and you have to be consistent and communicate to them regularly in a variety of ways. Above all else you have to do what you say you will do, and if you can’t then be honest! This is one of the things that I learnt early on and can have really negative effect on engagement levels.

4) What's the point of organisational values?

Your people are what drives your business and naturally you want the right people in the right roles. In my view this is what can give any business its competitive edge – sounds simple but it’s amazing how many organisations still haven’t cottoned on to this! The values are a key part to knowing what kind of business you are and therefore what kind of people do you want driving your business and in what way. They are up there with the company’s strategy, it’s no different to how we would set out an individual’s planning, development and review (PDR), the values are the ‘how’ in how we get to where we want to be.

5) What advice would you give to other HR managers looking to implement organisational values and make them stick?

Coming up with values and a framework is the easy bit (as it is with most initiatives) while getting it to stick is what takes the hard work! Here are my tips –

You need to have a strong reason on why!

And one that your employees will understand. Where I have seen this done really successfully, it has been because of linking the behavioural values to the overall strategy, e.g. how are these values going to give you a competitive edge or how do they link in to brand vision. Values have to be a business-led initiative not seen as a HR initiative.

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Raj spoke on organisational values and how to get the most out of them on our HRZone webinar, 'Organisational Values: are they worth the bother?" Click the link to watch her full presentation and the Q&A discussion that followed.

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Role model them

If the people that employees look up to aren’t living them, they will soon fizzle out and lose their meaning. You need to have a clear view of what your values-led behaviours are and make sure that your senior team are role modelling them and are happy to be challenged or picked up on non-values-led behaviour. This means you need to get their buy-in up front.

Keep them simple and in full view

Simple enough for people to remember, be creative when you communicate them as you want people to not only remember the value but also what it stands for. Values that are truly embedded will be evident as they should end up forming part of the language commonly used in meetings or the office.

6) What's the next big thing in HR at Twinings? 

The next big thing for us is the concept of supporting every individual to play to their ‘A’ game, we have things in the pipeline as I mentioned already about encouraging everyone to develop their skills. Alongside this is also about refining our strategy to ensure we continue to attract the highest levels of talent who are ambitious and creative!

7) How do you ensure you recruit individuals that fit in with the Twinings brand and organisational values?

Recruiting the right individuals is really important to us at Twinings and it’s the fit of culture and values that we will not compromise on. This may from time to time mean that we can’t fill a vacancy as quickly as we hoped however our team are comfortable with taking the time to make the right choice rather than take a risk on the wrong candidate. 

To do this we work closely with a recruitment partner with whom we have a robust process to ensure only the right candidates are walking through our doors to meet with us. We are honest about what they can expect from us as an employer and if the first meeting goes well then we encourage other members of the team to do a meet and greet with potential candidates, e.g. afternoon tea to get to know someone on a more personal basis as well as the more formal interview and selection processes. We like to make sure that everyone that comes through an interview process gets something out of it, so whether they are successful or not we will give them the opportunity to get feedback from a coach around any testing or psychometrics that we have asked them to complete. 

About Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence, HRZone

Jamie Lawrence is editor of global online HR publication and community HRZone.com. He is committed to driving forward the HR agenda and making sure that HR directors have the knowledge and insight necessary to make HR felt across the whole organisation. He regularly speaks to audiences of 250+ and has interviewed key HR industry names, including Daniel H. Pink. He has worked previously as a small business journalist and a copywriter and has published non-fiction that reached #2 on the NYT Children's Bestseller List. In his spare time Jamie likes writing fiction, films, fitness and eating out.

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