Michael Stanley, HR Director of Vodafone Australia, talks about the benefits of finding meaning in the workforce, the journey from failure to success, and how to encourage leadership from the get-go.
In my role as HR director, both past and present, I’ve noticed that most employees crave clarity and meaning. People want a really strong sense of connection between what they do and why that’s worthwhile.
The question is: how do you provide that as a business? How do you achieve that for, say, 3000 people of different ages who work in different environments?
The answer is that you have to have absolutely ‘gun’ leaders. That’s how you systematically ensure that 100 or 3,000 or 120,000 people get connected, because you’re confident that all of your leaders across the organisation know how to relate to their people and fine-tune those relationships. You need to connect and work with each person so that they can create that meaning for themselves.
Orientate yourself toward change
In all companies, it’s important to drive renewal and continuous replenishment. You need to orientate your people towards constant stretch, development and change. My quest is to have people working for Vodafone who constantly want to grow, learn and develop – because there’s always a better way of doing something. And that means those people want to come to an environment that will support and encourage that.
The culture of innovation is really the culture of continuous growth for your people. From a leadership perspective, I really want Vodafone to have that culture. But it is a double-edged sword which comes with sharp edges. It’s saying, “I really want you to be happy, connected and to work hard here, but I also expect you to be happy, connected and work hard here. I don’t expect you to come and complain and find fault with everything. That’s not the environment here.”
Building a self-sustaining culture
We are lucky. Vodafone, being such a strong brand, attracts individuals who fit our culture. I’m continuously delighted and surprised by the calibre of people we attract. It may be because the most reliable way to employ good people is to get those who currently work for you – or work alongside you – to recommend others. Evidence supports that internal referrals are the most effective method; you have your people screening on your behalf.
So if you have a strong culture at work, your people are more likely to identify others who would work well in that environment. It’s important to look at the recruitment process as a partnership with the candidate.
The aim is to design what is best for the business and best for the person.