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Case study: How Essilor’s HR team increased its capability as internal consultants



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A new project presented opportunities for the HR team to work on a cross-functional project, in the form of a consulting project for a non-profit organisation, bringing a number of successes to the table, affirms Amrita Rajumoothy, global talent acquisition specialist, Essilor International.

An opportunity was presented for Essilor’s global talent and global learning & development teams to work on a cross-functional project and to experience new ways of working together, in the form of a consulting project for a non-profit organisation in the area of HR capability.

Through this project, we hoped to increase our capability as internal ‘consultants’ and for us to apply a new skill and experience gained with our daily job, that is, to understand, listen, comprehend, and ask questions before coming up with a solution.

In addition, we have always wanted to create a design thinking programme internally and we were very thrilled that we had the opportunity to do so – especially in a HR context.

Bird’s eye view of the strategy

Before starting on this consulting project for the non-profit organisation, the project team was cautious in considering many factors before coming up with a concrete strategy for execution, especially keeping in mind the time frame that was set aside for the project.

Our objective was to manage and execute the project within a realistic period without compromising the quality of the output. We had to ensure that the information, tools, framework, advice and our recommendations would be meaningful and impactful to our clients.

Since working with an NGO was new to the team, the entire process was initially difficult. However, having worked in a NGO previously, our team member Darlene shared valuable advise and her experience greatly helped Sherrie and I to understand the nuances of working in an NGO vis-a-vis a corporate environment.

What also helped was for us to understand the context of the project, we spent substantial time in the  beginning meeting various stakeholders in the organisation so that we can get a better picture of their needs, aspirations, and current situation.

As with any project, we had to adapt to the situation along the way and we must say, there were many changes to the initial plan!

We first obtained a organisational chart from our client to identify employees with varying profiles, backgrounds and experience in their organisation. Subsequently, we arranged to have casual interviews with these employees.

The objective, essentially, was to understand viewpoints from the various stakeholders, i.e. board members, managers, HR, and of course the employees. Based on the statistics, feedback and comments, we were able to identify common themes and areas they were doing well in, and processes that could potentially be improved or implemented.

Eagle-eyed execution 

As with any project, we had to adapt to the situation along the way and we must say, there were many changes to the initial plan! Given the tight deadline, our team was very transparent in what we were able to deliver, however, we were not comfortable with just providing feedback, documents and recommendations – we wanted to go above and beyond.

The initial idea was to work on a ‘HR scoping’ project for the client, i.e. to come up with HR processes and  guidelines for them to implement.

However, as we progressed with the project, we realised that mere HR process implementation was not going to solve core issues such as improving the employee engagement, retention and overall communication. To ensure that our client is able to apply our feedback easily, we had to adapt and change our plans.

As such, we brainstormed and decided to facilitate a design thinking workshop for the managers to understand the findings, experience the employee lifecycle, and think of ways to improve the current process.

Among the managers, they also prioritised their key challenges, listed a few actionable items and made a commitment to stick to the stated deadlines that they had set.

The success of this project clearly demonstrates the saying, “if you want to go quickly, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”.

Results and key takeaways

With an objective for the L&D team to be a ‘consulting’ arm of the HR department, this project provided us with a great opportunity and a sense of how we can work closely for our internal ‘customers’.

In fact, it also brought the global HR team closer as we collaborated and had a better understanding of our different working styles and how we can better leverage on each other’s strength and experience.

With the varying expertise in our respective fields, i.e. communication, talent acquisition, facilitation and coaching skills, it showed us how diverse the HR function is and that the different branches of HR make it a truly unique department.

The success of this project clearly demonstrates the saying, “if you want to go quickly, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together”.

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