If you need policies, your HR strategy has failed
Last week, Prof Dr Rudy Moenaert invited me to speak to a group of high potential ING employees. During my presentation, we had a discussion about the social media policy of a big company like ING. Many people found that it is really necessary to have one, but Rudy suddenly launched an impressive quote, saying: 'If you need a policy to let people know what they can and cannot say, then it means that your HR strategy has failed!".
And then, we had silence. People thought it over. After a while the discussion continued and we all agreed that most big companies need some sort of policy just to make sure that people are not afraid to do certain things.
We also all agreed on the fact that social media policies should be positive and engaging. The moment that it is full of ‘Don’t do x, don’t do y’, it will result in… nothing.
In my car, I was thinking back to the quote of Rudy. And you know, I think he is right. If you need policies like that, your HR strategy is probably failing. And of course, reality is that only in the last few years we are looking differently at the recruitment process and culture management. For bigger organizations, there is no other choice then to develop a policy. Changing the culture is a process that takes longer than a few months.
Culture first, skills second
One of the crucial steps in this new HR strategy, is changing your recruitment strategy. Most companies recruit people based upon their resume and their skills. If you are serious about culture management, it is important to hire differently: culture first, skills second. If I look at InSites Consulting, since we defined our values in a clear way, the recruitment process becomes easier and we tend to make less mistakes during the hiring process. Skills are easier to learn than culture, is our experience.
A culture of empowerment = a common sense policy
And once you hire on culture and your employees really fit in your desired philosophy, the next step is to empower them. As they know your culture, they should know what your company stands for. Last week my parents in law told me a story that really fits this idea. They bought a whole bunch of material in a big ‘do-it-yourself’ chain, Gamma (Maldegem). One of the services is a free van that you can rent, which is great. But next to this service, my family was really surprised by something else. Once they came home with all their stuff, they saw that another chain in the neighbourhood offered a much lower price for exactly the same things. They were dissapointed and discussed this with the guys at Gamma when they returned the van. Their reaction was great. They looked at it and decided to give my family a similar discount. And the best part: this all happened with a smile on their faces.
I’m not saying that we should all lower our prices if the competition does. I’m just saying: empower employees to make decisions based on the company values. If they fit into your culture and your beliefs, they don’t need many additional rules to know what’s best for your company.