This blog is generally about HR. One thing about HR though - the best HR leaders generally help their clients (internal leaders of business units and functional areas) think differently about business problems. Since the solution to most business problems generally involve workforce alignment and OD issues, it stands to reason that HR people could have something valuable to say.
That's fine until you go back to the central theme in the first paragraph - that the solution to most problems involves people. And if you don't have opinions and hot takes about that, then you/we deserve the administrative tag that so many put on us.
Let me give you a great business solution that could have been the idea of any above-average HR leader in the field. T-Mobile is a company that is shaking up all kinds of shit in the wireless industry. They recently made Fortune's 100 Best Places to Work list, but the focus of their profile was as much about business solutions as it was about perks and ping-pong. Which is another way to say that how you approach business can drive your culture as much as anything.
More from Fortune on one such strategy at T-Mobile:
T-Mobile is doubling down on “do what they tell you” under an effort called “Team of Experts,” which has given call-center employees unprecedented authority. Under the plan, which launched last year, T-Mobile divided its customers into blocks of about 120,000, who are each assigned to a specific group of a few dozen employees at a specific call center. When customers call for support, they are routed to their assigned team, instead of being assigned to a random rep at the least busy center in the country, as is typical in the industry. There’s no transferring of calls elsewhere in a frustrating ducking of accountability. Reps are held responsible for the outcomes of their customer group, measured by metrics such as how frequently customers defect to another carrier or how often they call support, and reps and their managers are empowered to hand out service credits or alter bills.
“People in the industry told us we were crazy to do non-randomized routing,” says Callie Field, T-Mobile’s executive vice president in charge of customer care. But T-Mobile’s cost to serve customers has dropped by 9% overall since it was implemented, while customer satisfaction scores increased by 20 percentage points, Field says. Legere says that the customer-care team’s new responsibilities give them even more data they can use to assess how promotions are going or whether customers understand new plans. “These people talk to 20 customers a day; that’s your gold mine.”
How many HR leaders have looked at the dehumanized, cattle call, big box call centers and thought "there has to be a better way"? Not only for your people, but for the business?
I think a lot of us could have come up with that solution. Putting people in the right type of role to do their best work leads to great business results, and culturally, it's more sustainable than almost anything else we can do to build great company culture.
Few of us would naturally go against the grain against something like big box, next globally available rep call centers. But it's where the biggest impact for HR is.
What is your company doing that's incredibly stupid in your business when it comes to people? If you want a big win in 2018, be a proponent of a business change involving people that gets business results.
Do that, and you'll get your culture thing.