Interview: Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google

Kim Wylie, Google
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Kim Wylie is Head of Customer Change and Culture at Google. She will be speaking at UNLEASH 2018 in London on March 20th and 21st. HRZone readers get a 20% discount to UNLEASH by registering through this link.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: What are your current priorities/projects in your job?

Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google Cloud Professional Services: I lead the Google Cloud Change Management Team for EMEA, Japan & Asia Pacific regions. We are responsible for working with Google Cloud’s largest customers and providing them with support and advice for successfully managing the people side of their Google technology deployments.

Organisations typically come to Google Cloud so we can help them with their technology-lead digital or culture transformation initiatives. We take them through our proven change management methodology and help bring to life new values, behaviours and redesign processes that will help the organisation to gain / maintain competitive advantage.

What I love is that I have the opportunity to work with organisations all over the world in multiple different industries - there is never a dull moment!

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: What workplace/HR trends/ideas are you keeping your eye on at the moment?

Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google Cloud Professional Services: Not sure if I would consider these ‘trends’ as such - for me these are timelessly important so I always have a very close eye on them (probably my personal confirmation bias!)

  1. Hiring: Hiring people who can demonstrate the cultural values that your organisation desires is so important - yet for many organisations I talk to this isn’t something that they do, or if they do, it isn’t well structured/widespread/consistent. I’m also shocked when I hear that hiring decisions can be made by one person. How can you avoid unconscious bias and create an inclusive environment for employees if that is the case? In order to build a diverse team with values & culture that are aligned with where the organisation wants to get to, I believe it is critical to have multiple people involved in hiring decisions.
  2. Organisational culture: I really get a sense that more than ever before people are starting to understand the true value of getting organisational culture right and the value of having engaged employees. However my sense is that organisations are still struggling with understanding how they go about changing/improving culture.
  3. People analytics: Using data to inform our people decisions is something we spend a lot of time and effort focusing on at Google.Our people analytics team are always working on interesting projects that provide insights into how we can improve performance. We uncovered some very interesting insights about the magic ingredients needed for high performing teams, and also what are the attributes of our best people managers are - with the ultimate goal being that every employee has a great manager

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: You've said before that 'all management is change management.' Can you give us some more detail?

Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google Cloud Professional Services: With the pace of change ever increasing, I believe it is essential for all people managers and leaders to have an understanding of the psychology & neuroscience of change.

Naturally people find change challenging (our brains think we are still roaming the plains and are hardwired to avoid change as it typically represents loss).

With more understanding of how change impacts the brain and employees behaviour they will be better placed to create the right conditions for employees to thrive during change. An organisations ability to be agile and to quickly adjust to changes in the market is going to become even more critical in the years to come.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: You've said that modeling culture change at the highest levels is key to effective change. But how do you orchestrate this in practice?

Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google Cloud Professional Services: At the heart of it organisational culture is simply the values and behaviours that exist among that group of people. Employees will look to their leaders to see what values and behaviours are expected of them.

If the goal is to become more open & transparent (for example) - leaders need to start behaving openly & transparently themselves. If there is no desire by leadership to change the culture or the way they work it’s going to be tough!

If that is the case I’d suggest focusing on culture change within an immediate team (with support of team leader) and redefining the shared values and behaviours that you hold each other accountable for and capturing the impact & value that the change brings.

Once you’ve got a strong case study from one team it should be easier to convince leaders of the value of making culture change more widespread.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: What in your career are you most proud of achieving?

Kim Wylie, Head of Customer Change and Culture, Google Cloud Professional Services: I’m going to cheat and pick a couple...

  1. Being a part of the Google story for the past 11 years. Helping to build multiple teams and hiring a bunch of incredible superstars along the way.
  2. Overcoming a fear of public speaking. Nowadays I regularly speak at events and conferences - but that wasn’t always the case. If you’d met me 15 years ago - you’d be as surprised as I am about the fact that I can get up on a stage and talk to people!

About Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence, HRZone

Jamie Lawrence is editor of global online HR publication and community 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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