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Human Resources Cisco Italy
In February 2015, Cisco launched a new Employee Value Proposition, strongly oriented to people and called People Deal. It aimed at maximizing the value of people by really putting them at the centre of a path of communicative transparency, clarity of mutual corporate and individual expectations and personal growth.
The role of the manager has become essential in leading this change, which is achieved by eliminating performance rating in performance management, reducing superstructures, placing emphasis on feedback and coaching, performing a managers‘ measurement able to promote their development, through a half-yearly People Leaders Feedback Survey and a series of managerial growth experiential activities. Regarding the latter, in the Italian context Cisco decided to work in an innovative way on the concept of sharing knowledge. Together with the coaching partner MyNoiLab Ltd. we designed and launched an initiative called Leadership Circle. We created managerial groups able to share experiences through direct engagement as HR and the facilitation of the team of professional Coaches to improve group cohesion and to better identify objectives and themes of common interest.
The aim of the initiative was to connect leaders of different organisations, encouraging them to share and align on the subject of People, defining common managerial priorities and opening up to debate and discussion. Stefania Capelli - Country Consultant Human Resources of Cisco Systems Italy Ltd. - tells us about some aspects and details of this experience.
Why starting from measurement to trigger an individual and group development path?
The choice to start from measurement stems from the desire to innovate and improve our approach as HR Business Partners, aware as we are that Cisco leaders are first and foremost business managers, accustomed to work and use numbers to make decisions. This awareness also arises from the support and knowledge of corporate culture and people that our coaching partner MyNoiLab Ltd. has shown. We decided to use this model to gain a competitive advantage, trying to use the external perspective provided by the data to better guide initiatives and activities that can be linked to people, and to better measure the effectiveness of HR processes and projects.
Two examples were crucial: the first is the creation of the People Deal, strongly linked to the collection and analysis of feedback, data, employee engagement and internal surveys, as well as focus groups. This has allowed us to limit interpretations and work a lot on listening to build our vision and HR strategy for the future. The second arises from an activity of the Italian Management Team that aims to define the strategy and our Country objectives of the next three years. All the long-term objectives linked to the business have also translated into KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), while the one linked to the theme of People has remained generic given the breadth and complexity of the related themes.
What better opportunity than the Leadership Circle initiative to help us make our actions on people more measurable, using the data to better focus and improve both as individuals and as a team? What kind of measurement was made? What data were used?
The goals of the Leadership Circle initiative are dual and oriented to the development of both the leaders and the teams. So we started by analysing the results of the first People Leaders Feedback Survey at Country level and with a benchmark sorted by geographies and functions, in order to have a cross section of the managerial perception and of the areas for leaders‘ improvement on which to work all together. We also used the numerical results of past Talent Assessment Centres carried out in Italy to have a cross section of more or less developed skills. This allowed to promote a reflection on what is induced by the organisational model, what people experience more and the main investment areas - also with respect to the evolution of the potential we expect for the future, increasingly focused on decision-making, the group and risk taking. To the internal perspective of the feedback that managers receive from their teams we added a report with aggregated data of the emotional intelligence mapping of a large group of managerial population, which our partner MyNoiLab Ltd. has followed through individual coaching paths. This has further stimulated awareness of the areas for improvement of the People Manager.
How were the measuring tools used?
We always used the measuring instruments taking the aggregate into account, and trying to always use a cross-functional approach to reflections and data, so that everyone could benefit from them regardless of his/her role. Part of the time was obviously dedicated to know measurement tools, to increase awareness of how many other data on People we actually have (performance ratings, talent reviews, skills assessment, employee surveys, great place to work, emotional intelligence, etc.) and to reflect on how these data often give a coherent picture of the context. In particular, the intervention of external coaches stimulated reflection on how these data can be used for personal and team development.
What were people‘s reactions to measurement?
Let us think about the issue of feeling evaluated... The personal experience of the measurement was actually positive: it was received as an incentive rather than a punitive tool. It has been clarified and demonstrated that the corporate culture of Cisco in recent years is development-oriented, and that evaluation implies a path of awareness and learning.
What were the results of this approach? How aware are people now of what was monitored through objective data?
Two examples were crucial: the first is the creation of the People Deal, strongly linked to the collection and analysis of feedback, data, employee engagement and internal surveys, as well as focus groups. This has allowed us to limit interpretations and work a lot on listening to build our vision and HR strategy for the future. The second arises from an activity of the Italian Management Team that aims to define the strategy and our Country objectives of the next three years. All the long-term objectives linked to the business have also translated into KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), while the one linked to the theme of People has remained generic given the breadth and complexity of the related themes. What better opportunity than the Leadership Circle initiative to help us make our actions on people more measurable, using the data to better focus and improve both as individuals and as a team?
What added value did you get from the use of measurement tools to support personal and team development?
Measurement is definitely an innovative way to work in HR. We often risk doing it asynchronously, without getting the value of a broad reading, of the links and picture that the data pieced together provide us. A more informed reading, guided by a subject external to the organisation, represents a competitive advantage able to liberate the company from self-referentiality or inability to get the weak signals in the management of people, to better respond to the real needs and to guide business strategies more effectively.