Defining Teneo’s Culture Road Map with Chief People Officer, Brian Baker

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin, and Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone, facilitated a conversation with special guest Brian Baker, Chief People Officer at Teneo. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • Teneo is a global CEO advisory firm that draws upon an expansive network of senior advisors to provide services across five business segments to help their clients solve complex business challenges. They have 43 offices and around 1,600 employees.
  • Their HR/people strategy is focused on the three pillars of career, capabilities, and culture, all while making sure they nail the fundamentals.
  • Baker said that what makes a great member of his people team is a strong combination of skills, experience, and behaviors--but that these days adaptability is also critical.
  • Baker described one of their key L&D initiatives, their SMD Accelerator program, which aims to accelerate the enablement of newly promoted senior leaders to deliver on their responsibilities. The program, which involved around 20 individuals, was designed to build a strong leadership foundation for the future, integrating often separate discussions about wellbeing, mental health, and inclusion.
  • The program was highly successful, with 95% of participants feeling they had been accelerated into their roles, and 97% rating the program as very effective. Additionally, the program contributed to their culture by investing in senior people and fostering a more holistic view of leadership. The success of the program was also measured through an NPS score of 9 out of 10 and a positive impact on the business development pipeline. Baker highlighted the program's potential for onboarding senior talent and its innovative approach to integrating newly acquired companies.
  • Baker introduced the metaphor of leaders as lifeguards, emphasizing the need for leaders to create a welcoming and safe environment while also being capable of handling difficult situations. For instance, given the complexities of leadership in a hybrid environment, leaders need to spot potential risks and take appropriate actions, such as seeing a lack of engagement as a warning flag.
  • Regarding generative AI, Baker said that their goal is to create a unified understanding of AI within the organization for better client work and the development of a common language. Their AI 101 initiative was designed to be inclusive and to build capability at scale. He emphasized that the aim was not just to train the people team but to involve senior business partners for greater credibility.
  • Another recent focus is on data literacy on the people team, going well beyond collecting more data to also being able to put it to work effectively and leading with insights. Baker also noted the role that data is playing in their journey in shifting away from an emphasis on activities to outcomes.
  • In terms of organizational culture, Teneo positions where they want to go as "Our Shared North Star." This has the following six elements:
    • Our leaders care about culture. Leaders advocate, role model and take action to drive our culture and wellbeing.
    • We celebrate the right things. We discuss culture regularly in the context of collaboration with each other and business success with our clients.
    • We measure and reinforce. Culture is measured regularly and results shared transparently.
    • Growth and expertise mindset. We encourage innovative thinking, new/different perspectives and expect everyone to continuously grow and develop.
    • We are accountable for employee-focused outcomes. Culture, values and behaviors are integrated into performance and reward practices.
    • Poor behavior is addressed immediately and without exception. Zero tolerance of poor or misaligned behavior.

Links to resources shared on the call:

This event is approved for certification credits.