Virginie Boyard (Executive Director & Partner, VISTIM S.A.) and David Holland (Founder & CEO, Results Rules) focus on the concepts of flexibility and agility, applied to HR. The experts also discuss the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on HR practices as well as the advent of teleworking.

Flexibility and agility are key words in today’s corporate world. But how do they apply to HR? How does HR flexibility and agility allow the company to grow?

Virginie Boyard: The role of HR includes designing and deploying the people policies within a company: all of it can be rather restrictive or permissive. It is a strategic choice: a choice that demonstrates and communicates the corporate values and company culture.

Organizing wo/man work requires an overall vision & objectives, defined expectations, and clear frames (labor law is one of them).  However, some latitude can/should be given in how teams and individuals organize themselves to achieve their goals. Quite often results are exceeded when employees have the freedom, the trust, and the empowerment to deliver. Such an environment allows people to take ownership, find creative and agile solutions while growing their skills. HR has a key role to play in making this happen.

David Holland: Both words are misunderstood by too many managers and leaders – it’s agility within a corporate framework and flexibility within tight constraints. Homeworking was impossible until mid-March 2020 when it was imposed and suddenly became possible overnight – brave, risk accepting companies will gain competitive advantage through leading and trusting people; measuring outputs not inputs. Andrew Barnes in his book “The Four Day” week has transformed the working practices of many people – working four days but being paid for five. When HR professionals take the initiative and establish radical, attractive and effective strategies that reward agility and flexibility, then the benefits can be realized.

A company has a system where a homeworker that doesn’t make any key strokes for 10 minutes has their PC screen turn red – a clash of industrial age leadership and management with 21st century values. These organizations will fail to attract and retain top talent, and therefore growth and potential will be adversely affected.

 

Did the recent health situation and Covid-19 crisis change the way HR experts and CEOs perceive agility?

DH: It was forced on Management – too many still want to snap back to the old ways but there is a real opportunity for competitive advantage to be gained by those organizations that think creatively. HR experts and CEO’s have come to recognize that business can continue and thrive under the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the right conclusions may have been reached as a consequence of a series of unfortunate situations.

There is a unique opportunity now for organizations to retain the benefits of the flexible, remote working approach – and the agility and speed they all pivoted to make it possible. When the lockdown is eased, with government support and organizational creativity, a new way of working and leading can emerge.

VB: With the Covid-19 crisis, companies must demonstrate an unprecedented level of agility. As an example, no one thought such a level of teleworking was feasible prior to March 2020! The results show that, not only it is possible but, for those companies which reacted quickly and efficiently, it has proven to be a strong engagement factor for employees. (Ref Luxembourg engagement survey from VISTIM).

If the Covid-19 crisis provides the opportunity to test the business continuity strategies it also emphasizes the need to adjust some people management practices to the new reality! Numerous companies are exploring new ways of managing people and performance as a consequence of the recent evolution of the working environment.

 

What are some of the key topics and best practices linked to flexibility? What about teleworking?

VB: Organizing sustainable teleworking is the number one topic at the moment! Flexibility however impacts companies in a broader way and requires sorting out matters like flexible working time & places, working methodologies, technology and of course leadership style!

Whether it is on finding the right balance between trust and control, revisiting the way they measure performance or even reviewing their communication style, the challenges are multiple for people managers!

This evolution was already on its way, but the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated it. Now is the time to look at embedding the new practices in a sustainable way.

DH: Outputs vs Inputs – the hourly rate mentality, working between 09.00 and 17.00, taking fixed breaks and carrying around a folder to look busy must be changed…

Meetings via Video are so much more effective than “in person” ones, it is for the Baby Boomer Leaders to embrace the Millennial Values and technology that will make the difference – the ego and identity of leaders from Control and Structure to Quality and Value must precede this.

When employees can be trusted with organizing their own work, achieving deadlines and outcomes without micromanagement interference then leadership and management will have achieved a significant step forward.

 

When it comes to career evolution, how does flexibility help? Also, what are the strengths of employees with an atypical background?

The 40-year career in one organization has long gone, we are in the flexible, gig economy where people will be hired on a project basis, working in diverse teams and then moving on to the next project – traditional CV’s and stable career progression don’t apply any more.

Many people, because of their circumstances, health, education or other constraints were unable to flourish under the traditional model of employment and so talent was displaced in favour of those that could simply “show up” regularly and tick the timesheet box.

Flexibility and the increased inclusion it affords to a wider group of people will undoubtable strengthen the career opportunities for many and broaden the skills pool for progressive companies too.

Hiring people on their ability to add value, rather than just show up regularly and bring cakes in on a Friday will be the new paradigm.

I believe companies should revisit their career management policies and make space for atypical backgrounds and professional experiences. The level of flexibility, innovation and agility organizations seek needs to be reflected in the way they recruit and manage their talents. By leveraging the good practices on diversity and inclusion, companies will be able to truly acknowledge and benefit from employee’s global experiences, skills and competencies. This will provide competitive advantage and equip them to face any new, unknown, challenges to come.

 

What about the future collaborations between VISTIM and Results Rules?

We have known each other for several years and share similar ideas and spirit. This gives us opportunities to share our diverse experience through podcasts (one to come mid-November!), training, conferences, and many more activities.

 

Joint events and workshops…

 • Leadership Development Program

 • Managing Change

 • Creativity and Risk Taking

 • Negotiation and Persuasion

 • Difficult Conversations

 • Building Organizational culture

 • Competitive Advantage through Agility and Flexibility


Publié le 12 novembre 2020