Insights For Practice
From our case study research we suggest six insights which we believe are important to support the sustainable long-term performance of SMEs, with implications for practice. Under each insight we pose questions for you to consider – whatever stage of transition your organisation is in – about whether your current HR practices and approaches are contributing to the long-term performance of your organisation. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution, as the most appropriate courses of action will depend on your organisation’s individual situation.
As mentioned in the introduction to this report, we tested out our six key insights for practice both through our case study research and with local SMEs at various events and forums in Singapore (attended by more than 200 SMEs). The feedback from these local organisations was that the insights largely resonated with their experiences. However, we were careful to also remain open to any new and different findings, and we did uncover some subtle nuances to the insights, which we have incorporated into our explanations of them below.
1 – Anticipation is key: readiness and relevance will determine success
To be truly sustainable, it is not enough to just understand the current business priorities and the practices that will enable you to deliver today. Anticipation of the next stage of organisation transition, through having a deep understanding of your organisation’s context, strategy, vision and values, will enable you to revise your current approaches and avoid hitting a ‘crisis point’.
• What is your organisation’s history of change and transition, as well as your future transition scenarios?
• What are the limits and the opportunities of your current HR approach that need to be addressed under these scenarios?
• How will you maintain close relationships with your stakeholders through the different stages of organisation transition, hence preserving your understanding of operational issues?
• To what extent are people in the business actively scanning the external environment to anticipate trends and opportunities?
Atlas is adopting an interesting approach to talent sourcing, creating an external talent bank.
They aim to establish an employee outreach programme, with employees visiting institutions and schools as Atlas ambassadors.
The senior HR executive explains:
‘We know that recruiting for talent is going to be an issue in years to come so we need to continue to build our employer brand now, making sure people know about us and entice them to want to join us. We know word of mouth is a powerful way to let people know about us as an organisation and our current employees are our best ambassadors. Already many new people join us because of a personal recommendation.’
2 – Organisation values and purpose need to be the constant bedrock of the business
• To what extent are your values threaded through your people management processes?
‘As it continues to grow, the company is determined to remain faithful to its founding values of diligence, integrity and service excellence. It is also essential that customer centricity remains the guiding philosophy at Home-Fix, continuing to meet and anticipate the changing needs of its customers.’
3 – Skilful alignment of people management insight with leaders’ aspirations is a critical HR challenge
In May 2011 Hoe Shu Hui joined Mothercare Singapore as the first HR manager.
4 – Simplicity of structure and purity of process preserves innovation and entrepreneurship
• To what extent do people feel empowered to innovate and drive change in line with business goals?
One such area was job descriptions:
5 – Sustainable growth involves striking a balance between preservation and evolution
• When was the last time you dropped a process that was no longer appropriate for your organisation?
• What are the advantages of being your current organisation size that you don’t want to lose?
• How do you maintain employees’ engagement with the business through organisation transition?
6 – Look beyond immediate operational issues and take the opportunity to lay the organisation’s cultural foundations for the future
• How often do you put a process in place and then move on to the next challenge?
Serene Tan (HR manager at Jason Marine) explains,