E28 – Employee Experience with Caroline Shine – Expert Interview

 
 
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E28 – Employee Experience: Interview With HR Expert, Caroline Shine

Caroline Shine is a strategic Head of HR & L&D with an amazing track record of leading employee engagement strategy and HR. Caroline has worked with GANT, Rush Hair, A.S. Watson, and Austin Reed. In this interview, we get to dive into her wisdom of upgrading the employee experience.

Caroline Shine

You Can Read the Transcript of Our Interview Below:

Nathan Simmonds:

Welcome to Sticky Interviews. I’m Nathan Simmonds, senior leadership coach and trainer for MBM, Making Business Matter, the home of Sticky Learning. We are the provider of leadership development and soft skills training to the grocery and manufacturing industry. The idea of these interviews is to share great ideas, great concepts, and great ways these skills are being used to help you be the best version of you in the work that you do. Welcome to the show.

Nathan Simmonds:

Welcome to today’s Sticky Interview with me, Nathan Simmonds, senior leadership coach and trainer for MBM, Making Business Matter, the home of Sticky Learning. And today I have the privilege and honor as well to be interviewing Caroline Shine. She’s a HR head of with an exemplary career history in a plethora of well known brands, organizations and companies including Austin Reed Group, Rush Hair Limited, AS Watson Group, which you may not know from that name, but from some of their brands on the high street in multiple countries around the world, you definitely would though, and more recently GANT Global as well. With her successes there being numerous and illuminous, by leading a complete culture change, helping them to get more focused on their values and behaviors, she has reduced absence cost by 60K in one year and reduced recruitment cost by a further 70,000 pounds. And at the same time improved employee engagement from plus 11 to plus 59 points in the time that she was there.

Nathan Simmonds:

With this level of experience I wanted to dive into all things employee engagement talking about culture, talking about the ideas and implementations to make this work. And I wanted to dig in and share her experiences in this interview. First and foremost Caroline, thank you very much for your time. Thank you for being here. Really appreciate it.

Caroline Shine:

Thank you for having me.

Nathan Simmonds:

Look, first question with me is always the same. Why do you do what you do?

Caroline Shine:

I think I do what I do because I’m absolutely passionate about all things people. But it’s also about seeing results from all my interventions with people. So to see somebody go through a leadership program for example, and to get the feedback from that individual who has been with the business 19 years, never had any training, and to see his leadership score go up and up. But not only that, he tells me that his relationship with his wife has even got better. It’s those kind of personal what they do, not just at work but what I see people improve on a personal level. And that’s amazing to hear.

Nathan Simmonds:

It is. And I know this feeling because I’ve been in training rooms and sometimes it’s the most difficult person in the training room. And you’re having that conversation. You’re just, “Really bloody hell. It’s like pulling teeth in this conversation.” And then for some reason you go back maybe a month later, it’s me when I’m in the training room, or two months later or whatever, and it’s, “Ah. I remember you,” she says. And she says to me, “By the way I’m having less stress at home.” And I’m, “That’s the best thing in the world ever.”

Caroline Shine:

Yep. Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

And the other thing that comes up for me is do you know what? I hear a lot of people that the common [inaudible 00:03:33] response is when people say, “I’m in HR.” “Why?” “Because I like people.” And actually for me personally I’ve met a lot of HR people where actually it’s not about the people. And then I suppose why. But then to drill it down the example. But do you know what? Actually it’s about this and hearing this and getting this. That to me, that’s not the words, it’s the stuff that comes out of the good things that you do.

Caroline Shine:

Exactly.

Nathan Simmonds:

Phenomenal.

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nathan Simmonds:

And it’s not about numbers at the end of the day. It’s about the people.

Caroline Shine:

Exactly. Always is about the people. But, I think HR can show a return on investment. So when it’s not just about people but actually, “Look, it’s also about the business. Improve the business. But it’s improve people’s lives.”

Nathan Simmonds:

Massively. And I think if you chase the numbers you don’t get the people. But if you grow the people the numbers come along all by themselves. And it’s not a chicken and egg scenario. You can’t have one without the other. It has got to be that way first, which is phenomenal.

Nathan Simmonds:

So I wanted to talk to about all things employee experience and employee engagement and I wanted to get your take on this. Like I said, with your experience, I think it’s worth digging into that. So for you, what is meant by an employee experience?

Caroline Shine:

For me an employee experience starts with the candidate but it’s about the perception that they personally have about the company, its values, it’s how they feel that they’ve got a safe open environment with good technology, being able to do their job, but also that they understand what’s their purpose in the business, and that’s where for me it starts with the candidate experiences. “What’s my perception? Based on the consumer brand, what’s my perception of what this company is like to work for?” And then going through that experience, does it live up to those expectations on a personal level?

Nathan Simmonds:

I think it’s interesting when you get to the personal level because I think a lot of organizers, they paint a picture and you go through the doors and it’s, “Well okay. This is all well and good. And kind of do I want to work here?” But then kind of does the video and the audio sync up? Does what they’re saying actually match up with the reality?

Caroline Shine:

Absolutely. And I think I introduce people, my leaders in training, I’ve done lots of training that I’ve wrote and delivered myself. But one was all about recruitment. So I’m relying on store managers to do their recruitment. And some of them have never even looked at Glassdoor and looked at, “What’s the reality?” And there they were. I said, “You can’t get away from it. People will put their experiences on there and GANT was on there.” So it’s all about, “You are the brand. You represent the brand. These are our values and our culture.” So when you come to treating that candidate, that’s where you’ll get good employee branding. They’ve got to be the brand and act accordingly from the candidate perspective.

Nathan Simmonds:

You’ve got to be the ambassador. It’s a constant dialogue. And I also had the pleasure of interviewing James Kerr and he wrote a book called Legacy. And his phrase that he used was about getting values off walls and getting them on floors and helping people to really live them. I think it was a statistic that I read when I was writing some content is, actually 27% of people, and that is only 27% of people actually agree and believe in their company values.

Caroline Shine:

Yep. Yep. I went through a whole piece of work around that, which was if you’re going to embark on creating a values culture with the behaviors that match them, you have to be tenacious and not let go of it. I started off by doing a values workshop with all mixes of people from all over the business, brought them around to groups of about 10 people and the first thing I did was talk about, “What are values?” And asking people, “What are you passionate about?” And not just work but other stories. And what we got was some great stories of people’s experience of life that made them passionate.

Caroline Shine:

For an example, I had people that walk over hot coals, I had other people loved scuba diving. But then I distinctly remember some people who came to this country not knowing how to speak any English at all. She put herself through university and she now speaks fluent English and has a very good career with GANT. And she’s passionate about that what she achieved.

Caroline Shine:

So what we first all decided is that we are, our passion or our values are based on our own personal feelings. Then we dived into the values of what GANT are, which were authentic, passionate, and innovative. So we then had to decide, “Well they’re just a set of words. What do they mean?” So what I did is I wrote out to help the groups along, just strips of written paper about a behavior that would be what I then called GANT Great, GANT No Thanks.

Caroline Shine:

So what we discussed with the group for example, authentic. What does being authentic actually look like? But actually what doesn’t it look like? So for example, “I won’t gossip. I won’t bring my bad mood into the office and be the mood hoover of everybody else.” So the people themselves then chose, “Yeah. That’s what passionate means. Yes. That’s what authentic. That’s what it does mean, that’s what it doesn’t mean.”

Caroline Shine:

And then I went into something called a values dilemma with them and I gave them some dilemmas just to discuss. And I got quite interesting and heated. One of the questions I asked him is, “Would you give money to beggars?” And just let them discuss. What we got back is people saying, “Nope. I’d give money to the people selling The Big Issue.” Or, “I’d give money to a charity.” Or, “I’d buy them a sandwich instead.” And then because some of them felt very, “They’re going to spend it on drink and drugs.” And everyone had a different view. But the outcome was there’s no right or wrong answer but we asked, “Would you give money to beggars?” People decided they were going to do something else. So what we said is the outcome was that’s based on your own personal values. Even asking the question, “Would you eat your dinner sitting at the armchair at the TV?” And the people’s values of what they grew up with is, “Definitely not. We always eat dinner at the table at the proper time with the family.”

Caroline Shine:

But then the last question that I ask is that, “You are a manager, you have a group of seven people in your team, you need to hit a goal and you’ve got only one person in that team that’s got the skill to get that goal. However, other people in your team have come to you and said that they’re going to leave because this person is unbearable to work with.” And I ask, “What do you do in that situation?” And we get lots of, “Oh, well I’ll talk to them. I’ll do this.” I said, “Let’s say it’s a given. We’ve gone that far. The person is just not living the values.” And when I gave them the answer is, “You have to say goodbye to that person. Not in a maverick. You do it in a proper way.” But what I say is, “You will have never ever lower your values and your behaviors for the person. Those are your values. You’ve got to keep them. You’ve got to get everybody there.”

Caroline Shine:

And once we had launched these values I actually had an individual who wasn’t behaving in the GANT Great way, after having many conversations with her, we did eventually say goodbye. I then got a lot of feedback from the rest of their team members that said, “Thank you. She was bullying me and making my life hell.” So that’s just one example of how you have to live by them too.

Caroline Shine:

Once I had established what the values people’s choices were, I then did another survey to get it down to just three behaviors linked to the value. I then did a train to trainer rollout to every store. Every employee went through that workshop. And then at the end, I just asked people to fill in what they learned about values, what they learned about behaviors, and what they could commit to, and what would stop them committing. And the things I got back were, “What’s going to stop you?” “Nothing.” Because it’s your behavior, you’ve committed to them. One person even put, “Death.” Which, oh, they’re passionate. And then what followed on from there is people in every store in every area in head office, put up their own values boards and it was very kept alive.

Caroline Shine:

Where I then followed on from that was I worked with Reward Gateway and what we could do with them is begin to send people E-cards peer to peer recognition specifically around thanking their colleagues for living the values and explaining what they did. “You were really passionate today when you helped me with a customer.” Or everything like that. So what I then did is I started an internal communication program called Life At GANT, and I published to everybody who received cards and E-cards, “Thank you to Fred who’s got three people who have sent him an E-card.”

Caroline Shine:

We then set out that once somebody had got maybe 10 E-cards, I’d go to visit them in store, I would present them with a, “You’ve been GANT Great” trophy, photo, again back into our internal communication. People love that and we gave a 50 pound voucher to spend Amazon or whatever. But what people preferred more was that trophy and that recognition and they felt so proud. So that was just one of the initiatives that I did to get them actually living the values. But that’s also go to come with support from senior management team and sign off.

Nathan Simmonds:

It’s got to be up and down, left and right. It can’t be no a couple of people in a store here and there.

Caroline Shine:

No. It’s got to be…

Nathan Simmonds:

Got to be everyone. And the other part is I think there needs to be consistency with it. And I’m not just talking about kind of in the recognition piece, but in hat is being rewarded. And you say, “Having those steps…” And I say, “Look, these are the behaviors that lead to this, that demonstrate this. And these are the behaviors that are kind of the antonym of this, I think that’s the right word, pulling away from that. And actually we’ve got some clarity. And that’s coming from the people. That’s not coming from the senior leader saying, “You need to do this, this, this.” And then not doing it. It’s coming from the people and saying, “This is how we’re going to display it. This is how we’re going to deliver it.” Phenomenal.

Nathan Simmonds:

The other part for me is reward of recognition. And they talk about incentives. There’s quite a few studies now that are showing that incentives don’t work. They drive the wrong behaviors especially when there’s money involved. But is that recognition piece, is the acknowledgment piece, is actually, “Here I am. I’m being seen.” It’s a very human need to actually just be seen and recognized that wherever I am, whatever it is I’m doing, that I am seen by my leader by someone else and they’re actually acknowledging me for what I’m bringing to this conversation and to this business.” And even having a photo taken. Like you say, that sense of pride that comes with it is enormous.

Caroline Shine:

They just loved it. And then also when we launched the leadership program, it started off by all our store managers and head office staff where with my L&D team, we did a rollout of what we called every day leadership. So once a month we’d have a group come together where we do the first day is workshop on leadership, looking at their personality styles, their own leadership styles, et cetera, then I would continue with how to coach people, how to manage poor performers, how to understand the employment law, all those kinds of subjects that give managers and what we call our leaders the confidence to manage people.

Caroline Shine:

And at the end of the program, we were at a place where we were on our second survey which was a global survey where we actually had real data now on where every individual had scored on their leadership score. So we held a graduation night. Everybody was in the graduation attire and the MD was there, speeches were given. But the recognition we were able to give, part of my speech was to actually pull out that manager, “Do you know your leadership score has grown from X to Y or Y to Z?” They just felt so proud. And every single person’s leadership scored had increased.

Nathan Simmonds:

The painful bit, and you know this and I know this is 99% of the world’s leaders end up getting a management or a leadership job because they were good at the job they were already doing. And they go, “Well you were good at making this.” Or, “You were good at doing that. Therefore you must be good at leading the people that are making those things.” What you and I definitely know is it’s a misnomer. It doesn’t work like that. But for some reason the world continues to do it. I have no idea why.

Nathan Simmonds:

So the moment that you actually go, “You’re a leader. There is a reason why you are in this position. And I’m going to give you the support to do that. I see you for what you are and what you bring. And I’m going to give you these skills to make it even better.” And then you’re leading by proximity. You’re making that investment into them to develop them and then you’re celebrating it at the other end when they make those changes. And again, with the recognition piece, and this is how we know that you’re delivering on that, and this is how we know that your scores are improving and turning up and recognizing it yourself.

Caroline Shine:

Yep. Yeah. I’ve even got senior people, I’m not just talking about GANT, I’m talking about every business I’ve been into, the actual heads are often leaders, don’t have or have never been exposed to leadership skills understanding their emotional intelligence, understanding just doing a journo dare on them as to where they are with their teams and individuals and task, those sort of tools still not utilized enough. I used to drive my team mad because I’d come in with a new book every day and what I would do is share out snippets, bite sized snippets to my senior team so that they’d begin… We were drip feeding, if you like. Instead of trying to wash everybody through a training course, off you go, it’s giving some learning and getting their minds opened up to what is really leadership is all about.

Nathan Simmonds:

Great. And what you’re alluding to is a phrase I use. It’s corporate sheep dipping and I’m not sure where I heard that before. But not every training is going to fit every person. We’ve got a different personality types. We’ve also a different leadership types. We’ve also got a different areas of expertise. And it’s all absolutely fine. But you can send everyone on this course. It’s just not going to fit everybody. Maybe I’ve got square pegs in round holes. And that’s all okay. But like you said, you drip feed. You learn one more about, “Oh that’s really good. I’m going to overlay it with this.” And it starts to develop and become kind of organic for yourself as well as the people kind of in your gift as well.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

And they will take on board what works for them. But if you’re not demonstrating it and sharing it, nothing comes in, nothing changes, nothing evolves.

Caroline Shine:

Nothing goes up. Yep. Correct. Agreed.

Nathan Simmonds:

So, you’ve covered quite a lot in that. And one of my key questions here is what is employee experience strategy? And I think that’s kind of hitting the nail on the head. There’s some key elements. What else would you want to include in that strategy that would help that employee experience?

Caroline Shine:

I think it’s about looking at things like the onboarding, what does that look like and what should it look like? Very, very important on that is to how you make a new employee feel. What should day one look like to week two, week four, week six, et cetera? And HR still has to be completely tenacious on that because day one could be amazing. You take a new person a round, you’ve introduced them, you make sure that they’ve got the technology and the tools to be able to do their job, but I still find that I still have to chase senior managers to have their one to ones, do the feedback, “How is it going? What could we do better?” Keep getting that feedback. And that’s part of growing and why it’s important to have employee experience. And employee experience is everything we put into that employee will then give us the employee engagement at the end of it. So there’s an input, output is the employee engagement.

Nathan Simmonds:

People who are watching the video may have seen me pulling a face when you were talking about the senior leaders maybe not doing their one to ones and the feedback. Do you know what? Again, is it coming or going? But the bit that gets me, especially when I’m looking at personal development and coaching, the struggle that I find that senior leadership leaders have in not doing that is because they’ve never experienced it themselves. And we do to others what was done unto us. And whether that’s parenting or leadership or whatever it is, we tend to have as a human species kind of the idea that we just repeat. If it worked for me, I’ll do that and I’ll make a small adjustment. But we do it for something it becomes habitual. It becomes a habit. So the bit for me is the leaders is making sure they’re getting that experience.

Nathan Simmonds:

It is a tangent question for a minute. Where or how do you make sure that the senior leadership are getting their one to ones and their feedback? How do you make that happen?

Caroline Shine:

Yep. I think you’ve got to have the influence there with your MD or CEO to ensure that that happens. But it’s also about I do a lot of coaching with the CEO on what are those kind of meetings are going to look like and feel like for those individuals. So I think HR has a lot to input into that to make sure that it does happen and I’ve had examples of leaders who their leadership score wasn’t as high as they wanted them to be. And so that’s around coaching with the MD on that individual in as positive way as you make it.

Caroline Shine:

The output of that was that he was like a sponge. He became like a sponge and really listened and his team, the next set of scores was amazing and he’d take his tam out on team builds together and even just passing through the kitchen area, one of his team members would say to me, “I love working with him.” And I go straight back and say, “She loves working with you.” That to me is real life development if that makes sense. I know you asked a question about how do I ensure it happens, but I thought I’d give you an example of making that happen.

Nathan Simmonds:

And for me as you were saying, it’s that realization. Well actually if you think that that’s the way life is going to be, you’re kind of normalized to that. “Well I’m not going to get any coaching. No one gives two hoots about me. It’s tough at the top. Crack on. Suck it up.” All that sort of stuff. That we justify and validate how we’re feeling when we enter those positions. We wonder why there’s executive burnout is a thing.

Nathan Simmonds:

But then the moment that you start having the conversation going, “Well actually there’s this conversation that we could have.” And it supports giving you that development that you probably never really had or the care and attention that you may not feel that you’ve received over the course of time. And then the moment you start doing that, they go, “Actually here’s Caroline. She does actually give two hoots about me. She does actually give two hoots about what’s going on here in the employee experience and all those things.” And then you start to engage.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

And then that person opens up and they’re just so, “Actually crap.” There’s all this stuff and then they start to absorb and then the world becomes the different place.

Caroline Shine:

And I think it’s probably one element of the reason for it is when you talk about leadership, just that word alone, what does it mean to different people? Is it all too corporate, well corporate feeling for actually just have a normal conversation and people get an enlightenment moment. And that’s kind of where I’ve seen it happen for me.

Nathan Simmonds:

There was a post recently in this… And the core element of this post on LinkedIn I read was, “The world doesn’t need more leaders.” And literally I could feel the heckles going up on the platform when it goes, “No, this is the key problem with the world. There’s not enough leaders.” And actually like you say is, what I the leadership to someone? What does that actually mean as a definition to that individual? What does it mean to them when they’re at home? What dos it mean to them when they’re with their family? What does it mean to them when they’re getting out of bed to go to the job and maybe they don’t feel like it? These are the times when that leadership element needs to come to the surface and it is that self leadership, that leadership from the inside that then radiates outwards. And helping people tap in, because like I said earlier, it is different for each of those individuals to bring that to life.

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like that. I think there needs to be number one for me is you’re never going to do if they haven’t emotional intelligence and understand what it’s all about and how they present themselves, how other people see them, I just think that’s a great tool to use to start off with.

Nathan Simmonds:

[inaudible 00:27:41] Something that I read recently or was watching, and they were talking about the fact that basically you’re a body walking around with no head. And I was, “What are they going to…” And they said, “Well with your eyes, you can see the rest of your body.” I can see my shoulders, my hands, and my feet. But the one bit of me I can’t see is my head. And it’s like the leadership thing. You’ve got this kind of concept of, “Well maybe it’s like this. And I’ve got to interact. Okay.” But you can’t see your own self in this place. So again, it’s kind of having that introspection to say, “Actually this is who I am, this is what I’m bringing. This is what’s important to me.” And then being able to bring that to the table and taking charge of yourself. Because like I said, it’s the inside out that is going to cause the biggest impact to your people.

Caroline Shine:

And I think certainly leaders who have been around and operated for years in a particular way that they’re not leaders, I think they’d find that quite painful and that’s why they put a block on it because it could tap into them on a personal level and it could expose them. And it’s that part I think where you get the barriers to senior people changing.

Nathan Simmonds:

Exactly. Yeah. But it’s that exposure which was where the beauty comes from.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

Because then you find out actually who they are, not what they think someone else thinks of them. Now from the 360 feedback, from going out and speaking to their stakeholders and asking the questions and getting that information. It’s, “Well actually what do I need to work on?”

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

And having people hold up the mirror so they can see it.

Caroline Shine:

That is I think the most difficult first step for any leader, to actually say, “How am I doing?” Getting feedback, open honest and create an environment for open and honest feedback in their teams. And unfortunately I have in my many years seen that barrier and no open honest, they don’t want to hear it. They’re fearful of that mirror.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, and it’s got to be vulnerability. And vulnerability is a word that gets battered around a lot especially from the advent of Brene Brown TED talks, these sorts of things about shame and guilt. But vulnerability isn’t a weakness. It’s the ability to open yourself up to be wounded but to be authentic and honest. And my measurement of this was always when you do 360 feedback, no one ever wants to tell you to your face. And you’ll be, “I don’t get this. I need to know.” So you create this anonymity where they can tell you what they think about you but anonymously so that they don’t tell you to your face. I’m, “Doesn’t make sense to me.”

Caroline Shine:

That just creates more bad feeling. Nothing. It’s toxic.

Nathan Simmonds:

But then because we’re so used to that as a behavior, we almost have to go through that where we can then start having honest conversations with people and say, “Okay, I can see this feedback. I feel like it’s Caroline that’s giving me this feedback. Caroline I would like to have a conversation with you.” And then you and me talk about it and you telling me to my face, not written down in an email, giving it to somebody else to collate it and then give it back to me. Actually we create the environment where we all have a conversation. And as a leader, I can sit with my team, however many people in my team and they can all tell me to my face, and we can have an adult, honest authentic conversation.

Caroline Shine:

I think also in order to do that, when you look at the dysfunctions of a team, the number one disfunction is lack of trust, and if you don’t address those issues of why there is no trust and the trust to be able to talk out without having any repercussions et cetera, you need to build the safe environment first.

Nathan Simmonds:

Absolutely. Yeah, and for me I think that’s the gauge. And sometimes that culture takes while to get to. For me that’s one of the key things is honesty and the ability or a team to communicate with their leaders and vice versa.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Yeah. Without fear really.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, yeah. Absolutely. Amazing. Thank you. That was a complete tangent from where we’re going but I just felt that you had to go into that space. So you talked about in the video with Gateway for GANT as well and how do you measure employee experience. And for Caroline Shine, and we talked about it a little bit, how do you measure employee experience?

Caroline Shine:

Well I measure it obviously by doing an employee survey because that’s going to be the outputs of the experience and the surveys we’ve been doing, we then moved the survey to instead of doing the survey and results don’t come out for a couple of months and then you’re going to do something, they’ve forgotten about what they said in the survey in the first place. So, yeah. I think employee pulse survey is really important, to send out short quick questions, pulse surveys don’t take a long time to do. And also the experience is asking the right questions. I found that in giving people room to write free text on a survey, I was really surprised at the feedback but also to go on from there, is if you’re going to put a survey out, you’ve got to do the quick wins, you’ve to show that you’re listening to that.

Caroline Shine:

And also just asking for feedback from people. Asking feedback through, “How did you find your own [inaudible 00:33:26] process? How did you find your latest training and development? What can we do better?” So it’s keeping a open communication is how I’d measure it. And we do use it. Obviously it’s going to be the net promoter score. It’s going to give us the overall.

Nathan Simmonds:

I think it’s that part we talked about in that pulse, now I’ve been in companies where they’ve done the employee survey and there’s still a part of me that can’t comprehend why it takes so long to get that information together when you can go on somewhere and you can press a button and I can do a poll on GoToWebinar. And I can get the stats and performance numbers out the back of that within 30 seconds. So why does it take two to three months or even longer to see the results for… That’s not okay. I was going to say, by the time that you give the information, everything has been and gone and people have forgotten and you can’t even…

Caroline Shine:

They’ve forgotten about it. Or they feel like they didn’t get listened to. I mean one example where I first started at GANT, it’s a global company, it’s owned by Sweden, but there were no other HR people operating in any other country. So I just went ahead and worked with my senior teams to what strategy we wanted to build. One of those was an employee survey which I wrote myself on SurveyMonkey. And we got the results back from that and that was the first time we had ever done a survey. A couple of things that came out and we could just change quickly, I had part time employees and they were contracted maybe for eight hours a week. But the reality was they were flexing up and maybe working 20 hours, however their benefits would only match their contracted hours such as holiday and such as clothing allowance. So if you imagine we give 100 pounds, we’d only give one jumper and a shirt as a clothing allowance benefit. But they were working 20 hours a week. The same if they went on holiday, they’d only get eight hours a week.

Caroline Shine:

So the day the survey came out, got together with the senior team immediately. “You said, we heard, this is what we’re going to change.” And these are the other things that we’re also going to be working on because of your feedback. So that is the most important thing, to react very quickly to the quick wins that you can.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah. A lot of hanging fruit. Immediately getting down and getting done. One of the challenges I also have with kind of the employee survey and engagement side of it, is they’re looking at those things that come up time and time again. And kind of as a rough rule of thumb, there will be some commonalities whether it’s around communication or whatever. It’s how do you then go about, that’s stuff that keeps repeating. What is it you do to improve that?

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. I think with any survey, the next step is for the team leaders to meet with every single team member and explore those areas where they’re coming in a bit low. For example, I think communication in some areas or some areas of the business, they’re measuring really high, whereas others are not so great. So if you look at about working with those teams even to say, “Why is yours higher than ours? What are you doing differently? Let’s share top tips on what other departments are doing in comparison to this.” So it’s bringing together then if you like a more aligned communication policy, is the word policy? No. Communication ways of working of what every department should be doing.

Nathan Simmonds:

And it’s like best practices. And for me it came with that what you were saying about Glassdoor. Where is my brain going? Crikey, it has just slipped out of my head. Asking that leadership questions of, “Why do people leave your team and why do people join your team?” And who in that self reflection pieces of leaders want to go and get that sort of feedback, it’s the same with this. “Well why is working for them and why is it not working for me?” Having the honestly and the wherewithal to say, “Do you know what? I’m a bit crap at this and I need some help. And I’m going to go see Caroline because Caroline is bloody marvelous at it. Let’s get her up and have that [crosstalk 00:37:43]” but rather than worrying about whether there is going to be reprimand or there’s going to be a loss of respect or something, just go and grow.

Caroline Shine:

Go and do it. And that’s how I operate. I really encourage and share ideas but also share amongst the teams. It’s that whole communication. I set up for example in GANT, there we were in a beautiful head office, but you’ve got buying and merch, you’ve got PR, E-Commerce over there, you’ve got [inaudible 00:38:18] there. But actually what we didn’t know was what were the successes of what each department was working on? What were they working on but what were their successes? What are they doing great? So we then started monthly breakfast meetings and every department had a session to deliver, and it was great. We were sitting there thinking, “I didn’t know they were doing that over there in that department.” It’s just some things like, “Get off go and talk to people.” And that again brings in that sense of purpose of why I’m here and what I do to contribute to the bigger picture.

Nathan Simmonds:

And also it breeds connection. For me is talking about hackathons before where people would actually work on their own projects. And maybe you’d have one day every month where you wouldn’t work on a work per se project. But you’d work on this thing you were kind of incubating, an idea that you want to develop. But then by sharing that with other people, “Well this is what I’m working on.” And people go, “Oh, you’re working on that. Well actually I’ve got a qualification in this and I can contribute to that.” And you’re, “Oh crikey. Actually…” and all of a sudden these two different departments that never the twain shall meet or whatever it is, and all of a sudden they’re now having a different conversation, which just changes the dynamic of the relationship again.

Caroline Shine:

It’s just getting people to think differently. Being too long in a habit of working in their own silos.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah. And building that connection.

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nathan Simmonds:

So personally for Caroline Shine, always because it’s always going to be about you because the experience you’ve got and what has made these businesses a success where you’ve been in them, why is employee experience so important?

Caroline Shine:

I think it’s everything. It makes a place a great place to work. That’s why. Part of my presentation that I do in my values is how I’ll say, I always put up a slide that has, and I ask the question, “Where is a great place to work and why?” And every single group that I’ve put them through have always come up with the same. “Google, [inaudible 00:40:36] John Lewis, Zappos Culture, and Apple.” So that’s because they’re a strong consumer brand but their employee experience matches their strong view of the brand. They are shouting out. They are saying, “Do you know what? We look after our employees.” And that’s I think is so important. And today especially what we’re currently going through, I think that employee experience of well being, trust, it’s going to end in profit. But it’s not just a profit. It’s about sustaining the good employees and keeping that talent.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah. Great. And I think there’s a few more places now where actually that I said earlier that that video and the audio is not matching up. And I’ve seen people recently leaving Facebook due to ethics and morals and stuff, and also I saw a post from Jeff Bezos actually regarding some racial slurs that were put on his Amazon from a client and he’s… Actually my gut feel from reading that, I think there’s a shift. Actually we understand what’s important to people, that people aren’t just numbers. And Amazon has had a pretty hard time for the way it’s entreated it. I don’t think you can get that level of press coverage and not take an action to make movement inside an organization. And then to get someone to then remember who they are in the business, and what their business stands for, and actually to come back with a reply like that, I think that’s starting to move in the right direction to make sure that that experience for the employee is replete.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Agreed. Agreed.

Nathan Simmonds:

So how can HR improve the employee experience then?

Caroline Shine:

I think we have to. By improving, is getting feedback as to how we’re doing. And I think we have got to challenge and be the ambassador of the employee experience but at the same time, we’ve got to influence our leaders to ensure that they are carrying out everything within that to make it the best employee experience. So it’s just like values. It can end up being HR’s job. And it’s making sure that we’re communicating, we are tenacious, and we are consistent. And I think that’s the other way we can help to improve, is to make it consistent across every single touch point of the employee cycle.

Nathan Simmonds:

I love having these conversations with people. Why? These other ideas kind of percolate to the surface as I’m talking and people are kind of sharing. And actually this idea of human resources a lot of what we do in the human resource space, it becomes a box ticking exercise. The PDP, “Oh, it’s just a form. Oh, this.” It’s not. I’ve trained people in the understanding that the PDP is a mindset not a piece of paper. Now this is your personal development plan. It’s not, “Insert company brand name here, development plan.” This is you. And if you are not writing it down in your own handwriting, you obviously don’t care about your own personal development as one starts on that. So as you were saying human resources, this idea came up to me, “Actually everybody is human resources.”

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Correct. Absolutely.

Nathan Simmonds:

It’s not just a department here. Actually the leader in the store is human resources. The person in the location working with the customer is human resources because they’re resourcing the humans around them in the right sort of way through relationship.

Caroline Shine:

Couldn’t put it a better way.

Nathan Simmonds:

And it’s not just a group three or four people over here. A bunch of do gooders who sometimes hate each other saying nice to haves of whatever. And I’m saying that as a stereotype. I’m aware of that.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Or come in and pick up the pieces when something has gone wrong.

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, or just checking payroll. All that brand stereotyping kind of that goes on. Actually it’s building that relationship out into every individual so that they feel that connection across the whole business. This is the hub that HR truly are in their business.

Caroline Shine:

Agreed.

Nathan Simmonds:

Oh. This pops into my head as well. Think about all the stuff that you’ve done previously. What would you like to do differently moving forward? What other ideas would you like to implement into organizations?

Caroline Shine:

Oh now you’ve got me. What would I like to implement? I don’t know. Are you thinking something new that I’d like to implement?

Nathan Simmonds:

Anything. It might be new to you. It might be something that you just want to get your teeth into again and then just take it up another level.

Caroline Shine:

I think it’s ever evolving employee culture. I’m very much keep abreast of what’s going on out there that’s new, but I haven’t found anything completely different to what I delivered at GANT if that makes sense. But if I did find it, I’d be all over it. The sound gone.

Nathan Simmonds:

No I saw it. Yeah. I just got it back there. I just pressed the button. What’s one thing you’d do differently from GANT then?

Caroline Shine:

What would I do differently? I don’t think I put enough onus on the leaders to take responsibility for the values and behaviors and that whole piece. I did talk to the end but I think I looked after it in the early days more than I would have wanted. Because for example, I rolled out in the early days the focus groups to the senior team. In hindsight, the senior team should have been at every single focus group that I conducted. Yeah. So get early, early buy in.

Nathan Simmonds:

Nice.

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nathan Simmonds:

Good reflection piece.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Yeah. That was what I thought about afterwards. But, we have an ethos of, “Never stop learning.”

Nathan Simmonds:

Every day is a school day.

Caroline Shine:

Absolutely.

Nathan Simmonds:

Every day. So, look, the penultimate question from me then. How do you make behavioral change stick?

Caroline Shine:

I am tenacious but I’m also very passionate but also to make it stick I give leaders and managers real life examples of what could happen if they don’t. What is the payoff here if we don’t make that stick and we don’t change that behavior? And we’ve had real life examples where we’ve said goodbye to people and I’ve always said it’s my intuition and my experience. I’ll say, “I’ll bet your bottom dollar, when you say goodbye to that person, you will find out an awful lot more about that person after they’ve gone.” And sure enough, always been the case. Always been the case.

Caroline Shine:

So I can influence by explaining and talking through with an MD or a senior person the consequences of what could happen and the bigger picture to the whole brand and the rest of the people. And I think what does it for me is when you’ve got people that are not living the values, it’s about those conversations saying to those people that you’re GANT no thanks behavior. But it’s how you make other people feel. Do you realize how you’re making other people feel? Because that’s what it’s all about. When you’ve got people bullying, being nasty to each other, it’s getting that person to understand, “This is not my behavior. This is your behavior.” So I can be quite if I need to be.

Nathan Simmonds:

And it has to be. For me the two questions are what’s the benefit if you do make the change? And what’s the cost if you don’t? And getting people to highlight that for themselves. And like you say when you’ve got those two super clear variations, the GANT Great and GANT No Thanks. “Okay. Which choice would you like to make? Oh you want to go down there? Okay great. And if you want to go, okay great. I’m happy whichever choice you make. I know which one I would prefer you to make.” If the values aren’t being displayed and that feeling isn’t right and we know that this is going to breed some damage down the line or be of detriment, then, “Okay, we need to have an alternative conversation.” And it’s [crosstalk 00:49:48] honesty.

Caroline Shine:

Yeah. Well I found with the tool because we then published what do those behaviors look like? The GANT Great, GANT No Thanks, for each value. And they were very, very visible in stores and head office. What my leaders found that if they had an issue with someone’s behavior and they’re ringing me for advice, I say, “You’ve now got the tool. This is not about you and me. These are behaviors you are not following.” And when I did the original roll out, the last slide was, “Get on the train, get off the train, but don’t stand in front of it.” [inaudible 00:50:26]

Nathan Simmonds:

And that’s the truth. You’ve got a choice whether you’re on the train, off the train. And if you want to get off the train. It’s okay.

Caroline Shine:

That’s exactly what I said to people. “It’s fine.” But we have some individuals that want to work in a very process driven, “Those are the rules, nothing else matters and I’m going to behave in a way to ensure those rules stuck no matter if I upset someone or my behavior is not good.”

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, yeah. No. And it’s got to be that understanding of how it’s impacting those around you. And I think some people try and do things to the letter and almost use that as an excuse to say, “Well I did that.”

Caroline Shine:

Absolutely yeah. Seeing that real life example of, “We must follow this process.” I mean one example was when we were looking at a full well-being program and the kind of things we wanted to launch. And one of them was called working hours. If you 10:00 till 4:00 but if you want to start at 8:00 and leave at 4:00 cool. And we gave them options. And when I was discussing these options with the senior team, one person said to me, “We can’t do that.” And I said, “Why?” “Well we can’t manage them.” I said, “You’re not managing anybody. You’re empowering people. And if you’ve got a poor performer who is in the mix of all of that and going to abuse that, then you should have dealt with them before. If anything it will show through and then you’ll be doing…” But that first initial, “We can’t manage it.” was, “That’s where we got to change our mindset.”

Nathan Simmonds:

Yeah, no. Again, it comes down to their habit. You’ve created an environment where people believe that, they stigmatize it, they push that belief onto a situation, and they make it more difficult. And sometimes it takes a couple more conversations to develop up out of it. Then all of a sudden the world is a completely different place as a result.

Caroline Shine:

It is. Yup. Yup.

Nathan Simmonds:

Brilliant. Tenacity, and making sure those values are being lived too. The consequences for and against those things. Super important.

Caroline Shine:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely. Yeah.

Nathan Simmonds:

Giving people that sight to be able to make the decision on their ow terms. It’s a beautiful thing. Caroline, where can people find you?

Caroline Shine:

Oh, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can also find me on some of my talks that I’ve done. I’ve got a case study on Reward Gateway. But don’t find me on Facebook.

Nathan Simmonds:

No. Facebook is for social. It is for friends and family. Yeah, absolutely. So LinkedIn. What we’ll do is we’ll include the URL to your LinkedIn profile. We’ll also include the links in there to the Gateway case study as well. So we’ll get that included as well. Caroline. I just want to say a massive thank you for me, a massive thank you for everyone that has been watching this and paying attention and talking about employee experience and how employee engagement is so valuable. Caroline has such a depth of experience, of wisdom in this space, which is why she’s here having this conversation, which is why you should be reaching out and having a conversation with her, and why you should be going and learning from this case study to help you improve the engagement scores, the experience that your people get so that actually from start to finish, it is a good thing, from the onboarding all the way through to Glassdoor. Caroline-

Caroline Shine:

And I’m happy to kep support wherever is needed and share my ideas.

Nathan Simmonds:

Her words. Not mine. So please take advantage of that and go and dig into that wisdom. Thank you very much. All right Caroline, I’m so very happy for you to do this. Thank you very much.

Caroline Shine:

Thanks Nathan. Good to speak.

Nathan Simmonds:

Firstly, massive thank you from the MBM team for tuning into this Sticky Interview. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to click subscribe and stay up to date with our new training videos and great interviews. And secondly if you want to learn more about the skills we’ve been talking about in this episode, click the link and take a look at the MBM virtual classrooms. They’re there to help you be the best version of you and the work that you do. Until next time, see you soon.


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