A co-development process allows the viewpoints of various stakeholders to be addressed and conceptualised into a programme, which suits the needs of leaders for their career development, says Joy Lim, Head of HR SEA, Société Générale.

In this interview, she shares how the firm's SG Leadership Development Model has not only showed positive ROI, but also enabled active engagement within the company in different areas of work, including aiding with retention.

Through these efforts and more, Société Générale went home a Gold winner for Excellence in Leadership Development at the HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Our organisation's winning HR strategy is to continue to build a sustainable workforce by focusing on the people experience. It includes using our collective energy to expand our best initiatives across the region with innovative measures to augment recognition and prepare our employees for the future of work. In 2020, we focused on the following three areas:

  • Building a flexible workforce which can adapt to a disruptive future
  • Talent and leadership development
  • Building a strong employee brand to improve retention

Despite the environment, we managed to make considerable progress in the above areas notably in talent and leadership development and in candidate and employee experience in building a strong employer brand internally. For instance, we launched our recognition tool - Spotlight, commitment awards for employees, new leadership programmes for managing directors and directors, and introduced Group and Reverse Mentoring in Asia, in addition to the traditional mentoring programme.

We implemented several initiatives under diversity including executive coaching for women MDs, parental coaching and webinars, revamped our employee assistance programme, and reviewed and enhanced our benefits.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

The strategy made us focus on integrated talent management and made sure we are aligned with business needs at every step. The involvement of senior management in the creation of the strategy and co-sponsorship of HR initiatives by a business leader has helped us to make sure that the HR initiatives remain relevant.

The progress that we have made is because of the endorsement by leaders in the company and their 'influence' in promoting these initiatives. The strong support has led to the 'buzz' that creates buy-in and acceptance of these initiatives at different levels in the organisation.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

Yes, that’s true. While rolling out the strategy, we made sure that all stakeholders (and there are multiple stakeholders for any initiative) are involved in the discussions and in co-creation (wherever possible). That helped in buy-in at early stages. It took more time than we expected, but the exercise was worth it. We also took feedback into account and modified some solutions based on those feedback early in the design.

This agile methodology helped in making sure that we avoided any issues later. As mentioned above, senior management support was very important, and it helped in the acceptance process by the employees.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your game plan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

The SG Leadership Development Model was based on the BUILD model of succession planning where we identify and form future leaders of the company and maintain a solid base of competent employees to run the business. Our development journey is built for employees across all levels of seniority, be they short- or long-term successors to leadership roles.

Several parts of the SG Leadership programme was built collaboratively together with employees. One of our programmes, the Accelerated Development programme, was developed and designed from the suggestion and outcome of another programme to fill a void to develop junior talents. This not only showed positive ROI but also enabled active engagement within the company in different areas of work and that had other benefits such as retention.

We have since worked collaboratively with Senior Management to roll out two new programmes in 2020 for senior leaders to create a more well-rounded coverage for our leaders, ensuring their development doesn’t stop upon reaching a certain seniority within the Bank.

The co-development process is an important element that allows the views points of various stakeholders to be addressed and conceptualised into a programme which suits the needs of leaders for their career development.

ROI was measured using the Philips ROI methodology and we have seen in our analysis how the leadership programmes had a strong impact on our business results especially on our staff retention, promotions and of our leaders assuming key positions within the firm. For different programmes, the ROI calculated ranges from 140% to 700%, depending on the investment in the programmes.

Q With WFH being the norm for the bigger part of 2020, has your organisation adapted your talent management strategy to this and adopted any new forms of technology to improve processes?

Last year, there was no option but to adapt and surprisingly, some of the changes led to more efficiency and effectiveness.

For learning and development, in the beginning of the year, we had already launched 14 digital platforms as part of our learning strategy, to complement and supplement our face-to face programmes. In previous years, many of the leadership programmes were delivered face-to-face where networking was a key feature in the programme.

In 2020, we had to move these programmes to a completely virtual mode including the design thinking phase. There was skepticism and cynicism in the beginning from stakeholders and within HR, however, those fears turned out to be unfounded. The different modes of virtual communication tools, collaborative online spaces, virtual breakout rooms and pre- and post-programme check-ins worked quite well.

In other HR processes, we adapted and with a strong IT infrastructure and access to systems online, it was easy to get into new ways of working. Employee communication changed to virtual, but it worked well after a few hits and misses in the beginning. We were fortunate as we had already moved to a few departments working for home once a week, and our IT infrastructure was able to cope with the emergency change in ways of working.

Employee engagement took front and centre with a number of activities including virtual townhalls, a 'best recipe' contest, a 'keeping fit' contest, and webinars on wellbeing topics available to all employees. The phase helped us to discover new tools and creative ways of getting things done.

Photo / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section! 


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