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Putting the PIECES! Together: Developing an HR Strategy the Works for Business

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Bob Bennett, Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at FedEx Express, discussed how his PIECES! strategy helps to drive success at FedEx in a presentation to the 2012 CLO Symposium Conference. The slide deck of this presentation is available to i4cp members, as well as the following summary:

Bob began his presentation, Putting the PIECES! Together: Developing an HR Strategy that Works for Business, by revealing his key take-home point - that culture will always trump challenges. While every business wants to make a profit, Bob explained, the people that make up that organization are the driving factor behind success. FedEx focuses on people and service before profits - which, Bob explained, “is a cycle [that's] very important to understand.”

Bob told the audience that an organization must know what its core values are, and make sure that the culture is aligned to those values. He said that you can and should let multiple cultures exist within one company, but you have to make sure that they all fit within the core values of the organization. Some of the core values of FedEx include: people, service, innovation, integrity, responsibility and loyalty.

PIECES! is a strategy that Bob created in response to the major challenges that FedEx Express faces (multi-generations, technology, social media, globalization and education), as well as a philosophy that provides the HR Team with a vision, value, role and an anchor for success. PIECES! stands for:

Partner with our customers: Partners work toward a common goal; they have shared objectives. Partners may succeed or fail, but regardless of the outcome, they reach it together. To achieve this, there must be a high level of trust developed: trust that each will be responsible for doing their part, and accountable for the results of their actions.

Increase flexibility: Change is inevitable, and it is happening faster every day. There are things you can do about change: ignore it, in which case you will go out of business; react to it, which may allow you to remain somewhat competitive; or lead it, to become the leader of your industry and achieve success for your company. It's essential to lead change to proactively meet the ever-changing needs and demands of customers, so the organization must remain flexible. Things should not be done the way they have always been done. Innovation, creativity, outside of the box thinking, and just-in-time training must continue to increase. Flexibility and innovation need not be that ‘aha' moment - the big breakthrough idea - but can and should also contain continuous incremental improvements that not only add up to a significant result, but create a culture in which improvement is valued.

Expand the Sphere of Influence: Expanding one's sphere of influence does not mean growing the size of your organization, but rather increasing the positive impact it has on the business, internal and external customers/vendors/suppliers/partners, and the communities in which it operates. It requires building customer-supplier relationships internally, working collaboratively, and a high degree of teamwork across the organization. Externally it demands active involvement and leadership in governmental/community/industry organizations to proactively lead them to those actions that are desired. These efforts will not only help direct future focus and actions, but will strengthen the brand and reputation of your company.

Calculate the value add: Calculating value add pertains to internal as well as external value. Measuring impact to the bottom-line is a must. In FedEx Express' case, this pertains to results/impact on employees (satisfaction, engagement, turnover, safety,etc.), customer service (deliver commitment attainment, job knowledge, customer relationships,etc.), and, of course, profit (cost, damages, increased revenue, etc.). This filter is used to prioritize efforts and, if none of these three items are impact favorably by what they do or are considering (or unless they are required for regulatory reasons), they are not pursued.

Enhance reputation: Branding is what you do through services and offerings, while reputation is how those things get done. This philosophy incorporates both providing the solutions/services that are of value to customers in a proactive manner where possible and doing it in a way that fits with their needs and culture. This element is about ‘over-delivering' in terms of product/results and the customer service experience.

Sustain results: Employees are expected to produce at the same level of quality and timeliness (or better) while being asked to take on more responsibilities. This can only be done by improving efficiencies, effectiveness, policies and procedures.

! Develop ourselves and our employees: FedEx Express firmly believes that people are their greatest asset/strength, and they recognize that they cannot deliver on promises to customers/shareholders/community unless their employees are committed and fully engaged in what they do and how they do it. Consequently, it's imperative that they allow and encourage team-members to grow and develop as individuals in the directions they wish to go and in which they will be happy. The organization considers employees as ambassadors who must be empowered to make split-second decisions that will affect the service, the customer experience, cost and relationship - all the things that are essential for continued success.

Bob closed his presentation with a challenge; saying that HR has come a long way, from having no seat at the table to a having a complete place setting, but that we can do more. Bob encouraged the audience to continue surpassing expectations and to move their HR departments to the head of the table, with the eventual goal of becoming the chefs that prepare the meal.


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