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Building Capability 2013 - Skype's Gavin Russell - Building a flexible Employer Brand in an unpredictable world
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Building Capability 2013 - Skype's Gavin Russell - Building a flexible Employer Brand in an unpredictable world


Gavin Russell's presentation from our Building Capability Conference 2013

Gavin Russell's presentation from our Building Capability Conference 2013

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  • Heard a lot about how EB theory. Read a few books, followed a few groups, been to a lot of discussions. This session not about recapping the theory or a post implementation review – taken for granted that you believe EB has value for your organisationThis is about the journey Skype has been on - the reality of trying to make it work. This is about the unpredictability…… and how to flex not only your EB but also your approachTargeted at people trying this for the first time, though it may also be applicable to those of you looking to refreshThe Skype situation: 4 standard pillars of rolling out an EB – Understand, Create, Activate and Measure – we are still at the beginning of that journeyMy goal is that Skype’s experience over the last few months will help you prepare and execute better on whatever stage of the journey you are on
  • 2 reasons for showing this. Your target audiences will have different experiences of your brand, even though they are on the same journey. Your stakeholders. As you go through this project, your stakeholders will interpret the same journey differently = un-predictability. Take time to understand your stakeholders and LISTEN….
  • This is the face I normally get when I start talking about EB to the business. Likely to be pessimists. “How will this make a difference?” “Fluffy HR nonsense!” “Just get on and bloody hire…..” (actual quotes)Sounds obvious but want to stress this. Before you start to write the business case, get out into the Coalface of your org and really take the time to understand WHAT their pain is and HOW your Employment Brand initiative will address it.“Attrition in x team is killing productivity, if EB reduce this by 5% it will equate to y savings and z profitability”. It will save you time and grief in the long run…… Don’t fall into the trap of only downloading the stats from professional bodies like CLC to explain why EB adds value – it doesn’t feel relevant to your audience. Instead understand your org well enough to understand how EB adds value to them3 ConclusionsGet into the business, talk to the influencers, get your finger on the pulse of what’s impacting them, understand their pain and their opportunity before writing a business case. It will help define common goals, drive a level of shared ownership and it will underwrite your credibility….Don’t forget to turn this into business case, including value statement that your exec stakeholders can sign off. That will be invaluable but more on that later…..
  • Don’t underestimate how far this initiative will reach into your business……Think of Employment Brand as a promise. A good brand is a promise kept. Where do we keep our promises? Through all the experiences people have with your organisation (directly and indirectly)… That’s before they join, as they go through a recruitment process, as an employee and finally as an alumni. If you don’t keep your promises……This is big. Committing to an Employment Brand initiative is not a small undertaking – your programme will need to touch pretty much every part of the ‘People lifecycle’. You can fix parts of the lifecycle, like creating a CVP, but it without fixing the whole, impact is limited (or even damaging). Action: Can tread on a lot of toes if you are not clear on where this will reach and don’t talk to the right people upfront.Figure out all the key people who may be impacted by your initiative and reach out to them, talk to them and include them where appropriate. (obvious balance is that you cannot consult with everyone)2. Tread carefully – brand is emotional. Everyone has a view and starting this process is licence for people to share – whether you ask for it or not. That can open up a can of worms. More about this under stakeholder management later on…..
  • Talked about Promises in the last slide – continue the theme. As you start your research on your EB (exists whether you like it or not) you understand what promises you are keeping and the ones you arenot = experience mapHow do you do that – experience is built around the touchpoints people have with your organisation. Building experience maps can help you prioritise which touch points you need to focus on, which to safe guard. You can build deeper dive Experience Maps on any of the sectionsAction.Measure the experience people have at these touch points – you’ll already have a ton of data but you may need to commission more to build out your knowledge of what works and what needs fixing. This becomes a prioritised list of all the things you’ll need to do to activate your brand. Important as for your EB to live and breath your HR practices will need to make this live….
  • Stakeholder Management.  Internal Stakeholders. Define the right group early. Think carefully about who within the business is going to help you get this through and get close to them. Think who is going to stop you, and get closer.They need to prioritise this too. Ideally make them accountable – Global Head of Brand wrote these into his commitmentsGet them involved in your decisions. Co-creation leads to a greater sense of co-ownershipX function, X country, X culturalCommunicate. Communicate. Communicate. If you’ve asked for Stakeholders to be accountable, you need to share (Irada)ExternalIf you are going to get external help, few things will help you:Ask your internal S/Hs to get involved in RFT eg define criteria (Global Skype Brand, Internal Comms, Audience Marketing, HR community - depends how you are organised)Bit like defining a role – define the skills and experience but ALSO define the behaviours. Very surprised at the range of proposals when we did our RFT – cost and content. The biggest differentiator was about who we trusted, who ‘got’ our situation and who we thought would be able to flex their style/approach/process to get us the right result (not just going through the motions). Credibility – acid test – if you stuck them in front of your CEO or your most challenging business leaders on an angry day– would they sink or swim?
  • Uncomfortable truths.  There will be bad as well as good – holding up a mirror. It may reflect poorly on some of your colleagues / some of the decisions that have been made so expect some challenging conversationsPrepare the ground early – socialise the idea that there will be bad news AND that we will need to do something about it. Gauge the temperature for difficult conversations / timing with the Board. You may have come up with a magic bullet but if the timing is off then you will not get the buy-in you needBe clear/evangelise the big picture – fixing these issues will reflect well on everyone. There is a direct benefit to colleagues impacted – the initiative will help them outStay strong.  Remain truthful to the research findings - objective vs subjective. Stay honest.
  • Journey – external and internal influences you won’t be able to predict. Don’t assume your business case will stay the sameFlexibility - aim for best imaginable but be flexible Think ahead - EB often a reaction to immediate / visible issue. Can also help with opportunities further down the line. Think how might you scale this if you acquire a company, move into a new geog or recruit a new skills groupWorkshop Idea:In your groups build experience maps for: Awareness, Discovery, Application, Interview, Onboarding, Employment, Exit. AdvocacyMake a list of the stakeholders


  • 1. Rollercoaster - don’t lose sight of value you set out to deliver.Flexibility - it won’t always go according to planThink ahead - not just about the current challenges