The Success Profile for Shared Services and Centres of Expertise

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1 1 The Success Profile for Shared Services and Centres of Expertise

2 Contents Role and models 3 Great minds think alike 4 Five factors that make the difference 5 Five factors in action 7 What can we take from this? 13 2

3 Roles and models The Shared Services and Centres of Expertise model is a well-established HR operating model. The roles you need within these teams are also well recognised and understood. What s less well understood, however, is what it takes to be truly exceptional within those roles. The aim of this guide is to shed light on that question. It s the result of several years experience and research with HR organisations around the world into the characteristics of exceptional HR professionals in particular the mindset and attitudes that make them so different. In the following pages we explain exactly what those exceptional mindsets and attitudes are, and why they re just as important as knowledge and technical skills. We also show how they manifest themselves specifically in the behaviour of exceptional SSC and CoE professionals, and the implications for people running an HR organisation. By understanding these factors, the hope is you ll understand exactly how to get your Shared Services and Centres of Expertise teams firing on all cylinders. In particular, you ll know what attitudes and mindset to look for when recruiting HR talent for SSC and CoE roles, and how to develop exceptional attitudes and mindsets in the people already in them. 3

4 Great minds think alike Since 2004 the team at Head Heart+ Brain have been working successfully with the results of a global study we conducted into what it takes to be an exceptional, high performing HR Business Partner. In 2008 we undertook further research to identify the characteristics of exceptional HR leaders. Thanks to the nature of our business, we have the opportunity to work with numerous shared service and CoE teams across the UK, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. In these teams, we repeatedly observe that, for leadership and management roles within shared services and CoE and also for specialist roles within centres of expertise, attitudes and mindset make the critical difference between the most successful practitioners and the rest. We also find that the most successful people apply the same mindset and attitudes whatever role they re in whether in shared services, a centre of expertise or as a business partner. However, they manifest themselves in different ways in different roles. With that in mind, this guide describes the critical factors of mindset and attitudes for two types of role: Technical specialists within centres of expertise Leaders and managers within shared services and Centre of expertise teams 4

5 Five factors that make the difference In a nutshell, we believe that an HR professional s mindset and attitudes are at least as important as their technical skills and knowledge. When we talk about mindset and attitudes, we re talking about the way in which someone defines their role, their sense of purpose, and the beliefs they hold about themselves, their team and the work they do. 5

6 The best HR professionals, whatever role and business they are in, share a common mindset and attitudes made up of five key factors: credibility and influence for SSC and CoE teams within the HR function and the wider organisation. 1. Self-Belief The best HR professionals consistently hold a strong belief in the value of the HR function overall and their team within it. They also believed in their personal ability to make a valuable contribution and have broader business value. 2. Independence Exceptional HR professionals have the confidence to have an independent point of view and express this with colleagues and clients. In CoE roles this confidence is often grounded in their deep specialist knowledge, and the impact this knowledge can have. 3. Knowing the business The best HR professionals display a profound knowledge of their organisation, its strategy and the external environment in which it operates. They also use this knowledge to make sure the service they deliver is highly relevant to business needs. 4. Relationships The best HR professionals obtain insights about the service they provide by viewing it through the lens of their customer s business objectives. This delivers more value and strengthens relationships with both HR and business clients. 5. One HR Finally, exceptional HR professionals want to work effectively with the wider HR function to deliver business results. They focus particularly on clarity of role and expectations of self and colleagues, and a shared direction across the wider HR team. In our experience, these five factors are common whatever the industry sector and organisation. It s when all are present that we have found exceptional performance accompanied by high levels of 6

7 Five factors in action So how do these successful mindsets and attitudes manifest themselves? Well it depends on the role and organisation in which someone is working. However, by looking at our experience of specific roles, it s possible to see patterns. Below are the patterns we saw in successful HR professionals within Shared Services and Centres of Expertise. We have compared them with the patterns from our Business Partner research The Success Profile for HR Business Partners A global study - to demonstrate the differences across each area of the model. 7

8 Self belief in action The people policy team for a large retail organisation put in motion a process to analyse ER data region-by- region, identify recurring themes and feedback on issues to their business partner colleagues. Having this insight into employee relations activity from the team helped the business partners to focus their business leaders on the challenges highlighted by the analysis, and work together to address these. Ultimately this proactive approach from the people policy specialists had a direct impact on business behaviour which led to fewer ER issues, reduced cost and higher quality handling of issues that did arise in the business. SSC/CoE leaders and managers CoE technical specialists Business Partners Self Belief A deep belief in the broader business value and potential of the SSC/CoE, as well as a belief in their own leadership role. Believe the areas are critical to the success of the HR service. A deep belief in the value brought by specialist CoE teams and the direct impact this has on strategic outcomes. Share a belief that the CoE role is equally important in ensuring high performance as any other in the HR function Share a deep belief in the HR function and its value. View the BP role as an equal partner with the business, with the purpose to contribute to strategy and business performance. 8

9 Independence in action The Organisational Effectiveness team at a global banking firm realised that the organisation needed to take a broader view of the workforce planning process in order to achieve more impact. Each year workforce planning was undertaken but the process was not providing solutions to the employee market challenges that the Bank was facing. Drawing on their expertise in talent and OD, this CoE team designed a broad range of economic and demographic data feeds into the process, targeted to different business regions and business types. This provided a more insightful backdrop to the planning process, including data relating to external market trends, competitor activity and future strategic skills requirements, as well as the current population. This gave the business partners a broad range of accurate information points to use when influencing the business, and an independent viewpoint which ultimately led to more informed planning decisions. SSC/CoE leaders and managers CoE technical specialists Business Partners Independence Hold a clear opinion on what makes for effective SSC /CoE operations, and how this should be achieved within their particular business context. Have the confidence to express this with HR and business colleagues, in the face of competing demands and priorities. Take action in developing thought leadership and policy Have an independent opinion, grounded in their deep specialist knowledge and expertise. Have a strong view on how this knowledge can be best applied to drive business performance, and the conviction to express this with HR and business colleagues. A willingness, or even obligation, to maintain and express an independent point of view to hold up the mirror to business customers, and challenge assumptions in order to drive business performance. 9

10 Knowing the business in action The HR shared service team leaders at an international manufacturer took the bold decision to restructure their shared service function, 18 months after launch. They wanted to increase responsiveness, and so reorganised their teams not just by process, but also by geographical region. They could see the value they were getting from having common processes, but wanted dedicated geographical teams who could work in local languages and understand the nuances of applying these processes to the business in their particular part of the world. Restructuring in this way enabled them to provide a service which was still standardised in large part, but was well positioned to cope with different challenges and levels of maturity of the business in each region. SSC/CoE leaders and managers CoE technical specialists Business Partners Knowing the business A consistent focus on continuous Improvement in service, cost and quality. They look outwards as well as inwards to ensure a well understood and aligned service. Focus on trends in the market, economy and the world that may impact the company. Can put these trends in the context of the business plans and strategy Understand the organisation s goals and bring an external viewpoint sharing best practice from competitors and thought leadership in particular areas to influence how these goals are achieved. Demonstrate a strong focus on business strategy, drivers of success and industry knowledge. They display the ability to think and communicate in business terms and to focus on business results. 10

11 Relationships in action The head of HR shared services at a global financial services organisation placed customer relationships at the centre of how they evaluated the service provided by their SSC team. As well as measures of what the team did volumes and turnaround times - they also measured how the work was delivered how did it feel to the receiver of the service? They applied this both to business customers and to internal customers in other areas of the HR function, and developed some concrete measures which were placed at the heart of their evaluation. This shifted focus from the soft side of building relationships towards quantifiable customer experience, and led to a change in attitude and mindset amongst those delivering the customer service. Relationships SSC/CoE leaders and managers Recognise and leverage the unique customer insights SSC professionals get from their touch points with the business. Use this insight to link services to clients needs and strengthen relationships. They also involve clients in governance forums to develop their engagement with the service. able to put themselves in the shoes of the client and determine the most appreciate priorities and design CoE technical specialists Take time to engage clients from HR, the business and external experts. Review data and analyse key strategic successes helping them gain insight into how to deliver most value through the CoE team. Business Partners Invest in developing strong client and colleague relationships. These relationships are trusting and also challenging, built from a deep understanding of the other person s interests and values. 11

12 Business results delivery in action Governance arrangements often demonstrate how committed HR leaders are to delivering results through the whole HR function. One great example is a client of ours who set out what they called their HR Service Proposition a promise of what HR would deliver for the business, in terms of both core and strategic HR services. This clear direction was developed through consultation with wider business, and explicitly stated the role that each area within the HR function had to play to deliver it. Every quarter, the HR governance group reviews HR s performance against this service proposition and communicates the results. This approach has provided a shared direction for everyone across HR, regardless of role and greatly improved the understanding and awareness of the One HR SSC/CoE leaders and managers Regularly revisit handoff points with colleagues across the HR function and evaluate what each part of the function can do best. As a result they encourage shared services to take on tasks that make use of their economies of skill as well as scale. They are recognised for excellent performance, and regarded as the lynchpin of HR service delivery. Review CoE priorities and fit for purpose design and implementation with HR colleagues and clients CoE technical specialists Raise the team s profile through strategic planning, which ensures that the service directly addresses business priorities. Act as thought leaders for their expertise areas. This builds credibility within the HR function, and increases HR s ability to deliver relevant, targeted initiatives. Business Partners Take accountability for delivering results through colleagues across HR. They are responsible for influencing the HR agenda to meet client needs, and for delivering quality business outcomes. 12

13 What can we take from this? Well the key thing is, when recruiting for SSC and CoE roles (or developing people within them), it s tempting to focus purely on technical and managerial skills. These are important essential, even. But they re not the thing that s going to bring about exceptional performance. What will bring about that performance are skilled people who also possess the attitudes and the mindset for success. business. It s a great way to ensure the connectivity across the function, and will enable you to fully realise the benefit of your HR operating model. The implications for people leading HR teams? Create that mindset and those attitudes that is the way to have a sustained impact on your organisation in the future. Start by ensuring that attitudes and mindset are given as much attention as other skills and capabilities when developing people. Invest in the development of common skills, attitudes and mindset across your HR business partners, CoE specialists and SSC leaders. You should also make sure your HR organisation is genuinely integrated and operating as one. By doing that you ll foster a clear purpose within the HR function the first vital step to generating the right mindset within the team. What can also help is to establish career paths that link HR Shared Services and CoE professionals to the rest of HR and the 13

14 Further information The Head Heart + Brain team have deep understanding and experience helping HR. If you d like to find out more about our research and development programmes get in touch at or visit our web site The team at Head Heart + Brain work with the rational and cognitive content - the head; with the emotions focusing on how people are successful -the heart and with the brain using the findings from neuroscience to inform their work. 14

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