INSIGHTS

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Pride Is A Protest 🏳️‍🌈

Pride Is A Protest 🏳️‍🌈

A very happy Pride Month to all our clients, partners and colleagues!

It’s been joyous seeing all the colourful rainbow flags on my social feed and in the shop windows around town…but it also got me thinking. How much of our corporate culture has become tokenistic rainbow-washing vs authentic support? And how can senior leaders make sure they tread that delicate line between genuine celebration and a hollow PR moment? 

Turning ignorance into empowermentThere’s no two ways around it – pride is a protest. Despite all the glitter-filled celebrations, this month exists because the workplace is still not a safe space for queer employees. 41% of LGBTQ+ employees have faced discrimination in the workplace and in the UK only half of these workers are comfortable being out about their sexual orientation with colleagues at work, according to a new research from Deloitte. A staggering 70% of transgender respondents faced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment.

Many leaders recognise the problem but don’t always know the solution. So below are three easy steps to meaningfully support your LGBTQ+ employees and make them feel heard.

Share your pronounsIf you’ve never had to worry about the pronoun someone uses to refer to you, this step might seem unnecessary, maybe even obvious. But stepping into someone else’s shoes for a second and you can see that for employees who are questioning their gender, having someone misgender may feel alienating and disrespectful.

Your talent is the most valuable asset in your company, so making your team feel seen and comfortable will be a win-win for them and for your bottom line. You might be surprised when talking to your team that they might not identify with the gender and pronouns you thought they would.

A good first step is to start with an icebreaker as part of your onboarding: “Tell us your name, your role and your preferred pronouns.” Or lead the way by including your pronouns in your email signature and LinkedIn profile, and asking the entire company to do the same. This might feel trivial, but to someone questioning their gender your actions can be affirming and sometimes even life-changing.

Diversify your job descriptions and job adsShowcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion in your marketing. Again, this might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many senior leaders miss this step.

Do you have a statement on your careers page and in your job descriptions, highlighting that you’re an equal opportunities employer? Do you have photos of your team on your website that showcases your diverse hiring – in terms of gender parity, ability, queer representation, ethnicity? Do you share personal stories of your employees (with their permission of course!) that demonstrate your values as a company?

These are small, manageable steps that certainly don’t break the bank, but make a world of a difference to what kind of talent you attract to your organisation.

Become an advocate for changeIs your company doing a team activity like running a 5K or doing a company Tough Mudder?

Perhaps as a leader, you could suggest that donations go towards LGBTQ+ supporting charities, and match all donations. This not only creates a stronger company spirit rooted in shared values, but also raises money for a good cause.

With the influx of Gen Z and under into the workforce (who are increasingly selective when it comes to companies that honour diversity and inclusion), it’s the senior leaders who create an inclusive company culture that will ultimately attract the strongest talent.

So how can you tread that delicate line between a PR moment and genuine support? By implementing small but powerful changes, not just during Pride month but across the year, prioritising action not empty words.

If you need a hand reviewing your framework for diversity and inclusion in your business,  drop us a line via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or give us a call on 0203 6277048. 

Don’t want to speak to anyone but would like to read more? Read my book The MAGIC of HR.

Pitch Perfect: Aligning Your Team for Funding Success

Pitch Perfect: Aligning Your Team for Funding Success

There comes a time in many business owners’ lives when they start to think about what options they have for growing faster than their current rate. Maybe you’ve had more success than you first thought and want to capitalize on a period of growth. Maybe it’s always been your plan to provide your product and then accelerate once you’ve shown your model works.

Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking of going for any external investment to accelerate your success, then aside from keeping your levels of resilience high during scores of presentations and beauty parades you will likely attend, you’ll be required to answer several tricky questions which will arise.

The obvious ones might come about your finances – cash flow, profit margins, customer retention etc. – however you will also get asked (in some level of detail), about the team you have in place to support the business growth. Not just who they are and what they have done in the past, but what provisions do you have in place for ensuring that once the money comes in, the team doesn’t say goodbye and take your ideas with them.…

They say that most ideas are replicable, but individuals are not, so if you want to showcase the robustness of your team and safeguard your most valuable assets, a good start is to make sure you are covering yourself by following these tips:

  1. Set the Stage with Clear Expectations: Transparency is key. Clarify roles, responsibilities, and rewards across your organization. This goes beyond the camaraderie of knowing your team well and into demonstrable expectations and how they’ve been set for people, especially concerning equity or shareholding promises. Cement these understandings in writing to avert any ambiguity down the line.
  2. The Cornerstone: Crafting Solid Contracts: Contracts are more than formalities; they’re mutual agreements that safeguard both you and your team. They comprise various documents outlining employment terms, duties, and rights. While a verbal agreement at a pub might feel binding because you’ve known someone ‘like a brother/ sister’, a structured, written contract ensures clarity and legality. This contract should explicitly address critical aspects like confidentiality and intellectual property rights, protecting your business’s core interests.
  3. Document Security and Accessibility: In today’s digital age, safeguarding and accessing your vital documents has never been easier—or more necessary. Utilize digital storage solutions to keep your contracts safe and retrievable from anywhere. Leveraging tools available through your HRhub membership can streamline this process, ensuring that your documentation is both secure and easily accessible.
  4. Succession is not just for Billionaires: Investors are keen on understanding not just the current team structure, but also your succession plans for critical role replacements and business continuity in case you or any of the key team ‘go under a bus’. Outline how leadership and key responsibilities will be managed in the event of major changes, showcasing your preparedness for long-term success.
  5. Highlight Personal Development and Retention Strategies: Demonstrate your commitment to team development by discussing your strategies for personal growth, training, and career advancement within the company. This not only reassures investors about the stability of your team but also shows your dedication to nurturing and retaining top talent.
  6. Emphasise Culture and Values Alignment: Investors are increasingly looking at the cultural fit and the alignment of values within the team. Describe the steps you’ve taken to build a cohesive culture that supports your business objectives and how you ensure new hires are aligned with these values. This helps in building a team that is not just skilled but also committed to the company’s vision.
  7. Introduce Performance and Reward Systems: Detail your mechanisms for tracking performance and rewarding contributions that align with company goals. Whether it’s through equity, bonuses, recognition programs, or professional development opportunities, showing that you have a system in place to reward and motivate your team can be a strong selling point.
  8. Plan for Equity and Ownership Structure: Go beyond the initial mention of equity and shareholding promises by elaborating on how equity is structured and distributed among team members. Discuss any vesting schedules, buy-back clauses, or other conditions that protect the business and its investors while fairly compensating your team for their contributions.
  9. Conduct Regular Team Assessments: Anyone would be reassured to know that you regularly assess team performance and know where your strengths and gaps are. Outline how these assessments inform your strategic planning and team development efforts, ensuring that your team’s composition and capabilities evolve with your business.
  10. Make sure the team is engaged and onboard: The journey towards securing funding is not a solo mission. The first place you will look is to secure your senior team to make sure they are secure and onboard with the plans, however engaging your team in this process helps create a sense of inclusion and commitment too. People love to feel ‘part of something’ and never is this more so than when you are growing. So share updates on your funding endeavours, the potential investors you’re meeting, and the hurdles you’re navigating and you never know, it may also unlock other doors through your team’s networks.

Securing investment creates a lot of different challenges that extend beyond financial readiness. It involves a deliberate plan to manage and protect your team —the core engine of your business – and make sure your HR house is in order. By setting clear expectations, formalising agreements, safeguarding documents, and creating an inclusive, engaged team environment, you’re not just preparing for investment, you’re building a resilient, forward-looking enterprise poised for growth.

Ready to transform your team into your strongest asset for investment success? Give us a call today if you need a helping hand making sure you have the best foundations for growth by contacting us at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or calling 0203 951 1208

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Perils of Hiring in your own image

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: The Perils of Hiring in your own image

Ever caught yourself thinking, “This candidate just feels right,” during an interview? Chances are, it’s not your razor-sharp instinct for talent, but rather an age-old friend (or foe) at play:  bias.  Yup, we’re all biassed. And it’s not just a ‘you’ thing; it’s a totally natural human thing.

Our Brain has ‘Old-Skool’ Wiring

Our brains are like those classic cars:  vintage and hardwired for simpler times. They’re designed to make snap judgments about who’s in our ‘tribe’ and who’s not. This was survival 101 for our ancestors as it gave them the ability to make immediate ‘friend’ or ‘foe’ judgements that may just save their lives and keep the human race in existence, but in our modern, civilised world, this ancient circuitry hasn’t quite caught up…..

The world has moved on: but our brains haven’t.

We’re still living with the same innate, and sometimes very powerful, unconscious tendency to prefer people with whom we feel a natural “affinity” and it’s natural to gravitate towards people who remind us of, ….well, us. Take a look at your close friends. Notice a pattern? Often, they’re quite like us demographically. These are the “people like us” – the people we’re likely to feel more comfortable and relaxed with. And while perhaps more diverse than it might have been if you’d been living in a Victorian society, chances are it comprises a high proportion of people demographically similar to you.  

“I just hire the best person for the job”

It doesn’t take a huge analytical leap to realise that this natural human tendency to gravitate towards “people like us” isn’t always going to lead to transparent and accurate evaluations about people.  Especially when it comes to recruiting them into your business.  

The big problem is that our subconscious, while very quick at processing information (e.g. good hair, tie, shoes, accent) can be profoundly wide off the mark when it comes to assuming other attributes on the basis of such very limited data (e.g. good sense of humour, likes beer and rugby, good with customers, perfect fit for my team).  

How often, when interviewing for a job, have you shaken the hand of a candidate on first meeting them and taken to them immediately, just knowing within moments that they will be perfect for the job and for the team? Chances are this has nothing to do with your penetrating ability to spot talent in a millisecond – and much more to do with your ability to gravitate towards someone who reminds you – unconsciously, remember – of someone else who you like..

Because when it comes to hiring, all this means we might unwittingly prefer someone because they chuckle at our jokes, share our taste in music, or went to our University.

Studies galore into bias repeatedly show the same thing. These include Steinpres et al in 1999 and (more recently) Nuffield College, which have shown how deep these biases run, with evidence that applicants with male names, British-sounding names, or younger profiles often get the nod over equally qualified candidates, just because they fit the unconscious mould we’ve set.

So when you hear ‘I just hire the best person for the job’, clearly we all need a helping hand with this….

Hiring in your own mould can be very bad for business

As you might realise, far from being a good thing, there are actually significant risks in populating your business or your team with people who are very similar to you.  

Filling your team with mini-mes might seem comfy, but it’s like putting all your eggs in a basket that’s… well, pretty identical to your own basket. Diversity is more than just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Diverse teams outperform the cookie-cutter ones in decision-making, learning, problem-solving – and ultimately business success, so it’s in everyone’s interests to work towards this if not there already.

A truly diverse team is a team which realistically reflects the company’s community and / or its customer base.  At the very least, it is a team that can point to having been selected from the broadest and deepest possible pool of talent, rather than a narrow stream of virtually identical candidates.

Taking the first step to change

Just simply being aware of bias and its potentially sabotaging effects is a good start: understanding that our natural tendency to be around people we can comfortably relate to doesn’t always result in the most accurate hiring decisions. Dr Helen Turnbull, an expert in unconscious bias, says that while we may never totally rid ourselves of bias, “we need to feel affinity for more people of difference” and “pay attention to our reactions” when “interacting across differences”.

If you want to find out how you can mitigate against bias in your hiring process & improve your team’s hiring overall, contact us via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call on 020 3951 1208

Beyond Mind Reading: Uncovering the Real Reasons Behind Team Underperformance

Beyond Mind Reading: Uncovering the Real Reasons Behind Team Underperformance

Among the top complaints I’ve heard from various clients is a familiar refrain about some of their team members: ‘They’re just not delivering as expected.’

And it comes in many guises:

The ‘Promising Interviewee, Disappointing Employee’ one;

The ‘Missed Deadline for Important Meetings’ scenario;

The ‘They Should Know Where to Find Information’ assumption;

And the classic …… ‘They Should Just Know’ expectation.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the harsh truth often points in a different direction: it’s not solely on them; it’s also about you, the leader.

Communication Is Everything When It Comes To Performance Expectations

In my experience, upon probing how expectations were set, it becomes clear that 9 times out of 10, clear direction from them on what is actually required has been lacking, if not entirely absent.

I recall a manager who bluntly stated, ‘I pay them to know what to do!’. And whilst it’ might seem frustrating, this mindset overlooks a crucial aspect: payment doesn’t guarantee understanding or alignment of expectations.

The Disconnect Between Said and Understood

Fair enough you might say. You pay a wage and you expect certain standards to be delivered. But what you believe you’ve communicated, clearly might not be how your team perceives it. Effective communication involves not just stating expectations but also ensuring they are understood

You might think that what you said had been understood by all, but how did you summarise and play it back? Did you involve them in how they might deliver what was being asked? Did you check to see that they understood what you had asked? And, crucially, did you do this in the way in which your team work best? Because each team member is likely to hear different things. What is understood by one team member, may not be understood in the same way as another as we all learn differently. Which is why you should also write things down and follow up wherever possible. Your role here is as a coach, helping them to see how they can achieve the goal in hand, providing the support (and environment) so that they can deliver with aplomb and inspiring them to want to do it.

Leaders often fall into the trap of assuming that their team members will connect the dots on their own. This gap between assumption and reality is where underperformance begins. To bridge this gap, leaders need to practice active listening, understanding the unique perspectives and challenges faced by each team member

So the person you hired that isn’t working out – could a more thorough assessment have predicted the challenges? Reflect on your briefing methods. Were there gaps in how you communicated timelines or deliverables? Self-reflection on your communication style can unveil improvements for both your team’s performance and your leadership.

There’s No One Single Way To Get Great Performance Every Time

…But there are some simple steps you can take to get your message across and make the dark art of getting people to perform and behind you a darn sight clearer:

  • Set Expectations From The Outset: From up to date job descriptions to quality time during the interview process and discussing what success in the role looks like. This stage is critical.
  • Support Them When They Do Join: Don’t just leave it to chance that they will ‘pick it up’. Spend time with your new recruit on a regular basis outlining what you expect from them and when. Like to be updated on a weekly basis on how the product is progressing? Tell them. Show them. Share with them how you do it. Try it all.
  • Focus On WIIFT (What’s In It For Them): For you it’s probably very clear what you get out of their high performance, but What’s In It For Them? Learn what motivates them and push those buttons to get the most out of your team.
  • Return The Favour: Give them feedback on how they are doing. Do it immediately and make it real. A well-timed comment along the lines of “That campaign you ran totally hit the mark in terms of coverage but the signups we were after didn’t materialise. Let’s analyse it together and see how we can do it differently next time” is far more supportive and constructive than leaving it a few months to the end of the probation to tell them they didn’t get the results you were after. You’ll have missed valuable time for them to improve and will look as though you were too incompetent to raise it beforehand.
  • Keep Talking: Few people like to work in a vacuum, so keep the conversation flowing. It builds relationships. Makes giving feedback (good and bad) much easier. And makes people feel involved.

Despite spending much of my adult life coaching on the subject, I’m not immune from it either. 

There’s been many times over the years when I found myself ‘tutting’ in my head when a piece of work failed to materialise or arrived half finished. At that point I have to check myself and think about what exactly I said/ did/ wrote when I communicated what I wanted. Almost every single time I realised that I hadn’t been clear about the importance of what I’ve asked for, why I’ve asked for something and what exactly I’ve needed.

For HR help, advice and all the tools you need to manage and develop your team & help you take your People & HR plans to the next level, contact us via hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call on 020 3951 120

‘Saluting Our Sisters’: Celebrating Black History Month this October

‘Saluting Our Sisters’: Celebrating Black History Month this October

As Black History Month arrives this October, your business has a unique opportunity to engage in recognising and valuing the rich tapestry of cultures that form our shared human story. This year’s theme, “Saluting our Sisters”, serves as a potent reminder of the vital contributions Black women in particular have made, and continue to make, across myriad fields and eras.

Established in the United States in 1926, Black History Month began as a week-long celebration, spearheaded by historian Carter G. Woodson & has evolved into a month-long observance now celebrated annually in each October both in the US and here across the Pond.

The essence of the month is to spotlight the central roles and narratives of Black individuals in history, so without further ado, let’s share some of the most impressive Black women of our very own UK history:

  • Nicola Adams – Gold medal winner in Boxing in 2012 and 2019, Nicola has smashed down barrier upon barrier by helping to bring women’s boxing to the fore at the same time as continuing to advocate support for LGBTQ+ rights. And if that weren’t enough, she’s born and bred in Leeds, which – as we all know – is the best city in the world 🙂

  • Baroness Floella Benjamin (b. 1949) Trinidadian-born actress, author, and businesswoman. For many of my peer group, she’ll be forever best known and loved for her role in Play School, however Benjamin’s career in education and entertainment is extensive and she has grown into a prominent advocate for diversity in the media and has served as a member of the House of Lords since 2010.

  • Doreen Lawrence (b. 1952) After the tragic racially motivated murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, in 1993, Doreen Lawrence became an anti-racism advocate and campaigner. She played a significant role in bringing about reforms in the British police service. She was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2003 and was made a life peer in 2013.

  • Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock (b. 1968) A space scientist and science educator, Aderin-Pocock has worked on numerous space projects and is a co-presenter of the long-running BBC program, “The Sky at Night.” She has been a passionate advocate for increasing diversity in the sciences.

  • Fanny Eaton (1835 – 1924). As a big lover of the Pre-raphaelite art moment myself, I’ve seen Eaton grace many a canvas as I was going about my studies. An influential muse of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, Eaton was a Jamaican born artist’s model and domestic worker, who sat for many paintings in the Royal Academy.

  • Joan Armatrading (1950-today) . West Indies born Armatrading, moved to Birmingham in her childhood and grew up to become a three time Grammy award nominee whose music influenced a generation, not to mention producing some of the catchiest tunes out there. #dropthepilot

  • Deborah Anne Dyer OBE (b.1967) aka Skin : In homage also to my own teenage music influences, the list wouldn’t be complete without inclusion of Skin, the lead singer of SkunkAnansie. Brixton born Skin was the first every Black music artist to headline Glastonbury and was awarded an OBE earlier this year for her services to the industry.

  • Olive Morris (1952-1979) A community leader and activist, Morris co-founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) and was an influential member of the British Black Panther Movement. She worked towards racial, gender, and social equality.

  • Diane Abbott (b. 1953) In 1987, Diane Abbott made history by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to the UK Parliament. She has been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since then, advocating for various social issues.

This is just a taster of some of the many influential UK based women of colour the UK designed to encourage you to research further. Why not go further however and encourage your teams to celebrate their own icons and influences in order to honour Black women’s past and present contributions?

For more information about access and how this can help you become a more inclusive organisation, contact hello@thehrhub.co.uk

Image: Canva

Walk This Way 🚶

Walk This Way 🚶

Later this year,The HR Hub team will be moving up in the world, as we take part in the Three Peaks Challenge.

The race to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon (the three highest mountains in the UK) within 24 hours,  is one I’m both looking forward to and with apprehension in  equal measure. On the plus side, it will be great to spend some time with the team away from laptops and with the wind in our hair ( and perhaps the odd blister on our feet too….). However given that the last time I saw Scafell Pike through a window out of the back of an ambulance as I was whisked away to the hospital having suffered hypothermia was on a Silver Duke of Edinburgh exercise, I’m hoping very much that my visit this time will be with less need for medical intervention!

Notwithstanding this, the team and I are all primed and ready to start our training for the big weekend! And so how lucky we are then, that in the first month of our training for the race, that May is none other than  National Walking Month – an annual campaign that takes place every May to encourage people to walk more and improve their physical and mental health – something that can only. boost our motivation to lace up the trainers.

The campaign is led by the charity Living Streets and aims to raise awareness about the benefits of walking, as well as promoting walking as a sustainable and environmentally friendly form of transport. It’s also therefore a great opportunity for you to support your team members in engaging with this & some suggestions of how to do this are shown below:

  • 3 Weeks Challenge: Create a walking challenge for different team members to rack up the distance of the Three Peaks Challenge between them, but to be done over the remaining days are left in the month. Less sleep deprivation needed for this one that the real Challenge but still provides a sense of achievement for those who take part.

  • Walkey Talkey: Encourage team members to take their meetings outside and walk while they talk. This can be a great way to boost creativity and productivity, while also getting some exercise.

  • Happy Feet: Create a walking club within your company, where team members can get together and go for a walk during lunch breaks or after work. This can help foster a nice sense of community and support among the team as well as often getting to see parts of your city and town that you’ve never seen before!

  • Keep on track:  Share resources to help people get started such as route maps, apps to share or trackers in order to make it more accessible & achievable for everyone.

  • Lead from the front: As a business owner or leader, you can set an example by prioritising your own physical activity and encouraging your team members to do the same. This helps create a culture of Unity as well as one which values and supports their team’s well-being.

For more information on how to keep your team engaged and firing on all cyclinders, drop us a line via hello@thehrhub.co.uk, give us a call on 0203 6277048 or pop in a diary time here.

#walkthismay #lighthtspark #employeemagic #wellbeing