Blog 2 – CIPD HR in SMEs conference 13 May 2013

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
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So why on earth would a huge global hotel chain have relevance with SME conference?

Well loads when they are franchising small to medium enterprises running their own hotels using the branding and buying power of a franchiser.

So Interchange and Consort Hotels know a lot about SMEs and the way they approached their own organisation was in keeping with the agility, simplicity and action-oriented approaches Peter Cheese and Clive Hutchinson of Cougar Automation mentioned as being so key.

Asking the simple question “What is it about working here that means so much to you?” is just a great question to ask. From it came some lovely values like making people smile everyday, and thinking big but acting small to get going.

Relevant. Human. Worthy.

There is a still a lot to do admits the CEO and head of Learning, but this has re-centred people on what it means to people to be part of I&C Group/ Best Western.

Video vignettes were used here but they were so natural and not staged, you could smell the authenticity of them. Real people talking about what really matters.

An organisation that has a big reach with rooms in hotels across 108 countries adopting a small business mentality to everything they do. Keeping it simple by inviting the board/exec to share a slice of pizza with people as a way of grounding board meetings and bringing excitement and opportunistic engagement to something normally stuffy and corporate grey.

A name check to our HR colleague on a walk around @FloraMarriott was another human touch – Flora was key in the values work and took so much heart from the boundary pushing elements of them, she left Best Western to walk the length of the UK. Bless her.

I was pleased that this example encouraged us that simple things can make a huge difference and small actions with big thinking is something all SMEs can do.

After a quick break we reconvened to hear from Jane Middlemiss. Not of the TV presenter variety but of the logistics and warehousing types from ILG.

An organisation founded by streetwise (not bookwise) entrepreneurs. Doing really well and having an ambitious growth strategy inherited by Jane as the incoming HR Director. Well, incoming HR division/function.

What was heartening here was that Jane had been in HR roles before and whilst there were hallmarks of the archetypes we know are traditional HR practice, Jane took a totally relevant, people-centred approach which was in keeping with that which would help ILG be the place it aspired to be.

With a limited budget, ie no budget, Jane took over and instead of cautious, perfected processes, Jane took a fleet of foot, iterative approach to the HR agenda BUT there was a plan, it all lined up to the strategic direction of ILG, to the key deliverables the Exec Team were setting and to drive up peoples’ connection to the overall agenda and future direction.
All the components were there but behind a brand that meant something to warehousing, forklift drivers and clerical staff alike and a regular bulletin

And proving size isn’t important (!) the graduate scheme of 1 still proved valuable even for the 1 graduate given an MBA-busting tour of duty across the business. And that worked as did Jane’ s other talent initiatives around on boarding and career paths.

I felt a sense of comfort and inspiration from Jane’s work. I recognised the hallmarks and I applauded the bespoking to make it


We then moved onto Hillary Graves and Little Dish – more on that in blog 3; along with our own hackathon in the room plus thoughts over lunch.

A great day so far..!

Relevant, human and real

  1. Flora Marriott says:

    Hi Perry. I’m really glad you found the ICH/BW presentation interesting. Being human and real is really important and I’m pleased that came across in the videos. Meanwhile, I’ve reached Yorkshire under my own steam – the walk is going great.

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