Measuring Culture and Behavior through Effective HR Solutions

By Tish Mendoza, SVP for Global HR, The AES Corporation

Standard Behaviour that Aligns with Business Capabilities
At the beginning of 2012, AES introduced a renewed purpose for the company as expressed by the mission shared by our people in the 20 countries in which we operate today: Improving lives by providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy solutions in every market we serve.

We defined clear measures of what success means to us and began to realign the company to best leverage our electricity platforms and knowledge to provide energy and infrastructure solutions while delivering on our strategic priorities. To be successful, we knew we had to cultivate a culture based on our values, the ways in which we work together and a common set of competencies that was aligned with what we were aiming to achieve as a company.

Culture and behaviors are hard to measure and we needed a solution that would enable us to not only gauge the strength of our culture overall, but also ensure we were tracking the progress we were making to develop specific behaviors in the organization. The solution we choose has enabled us to do just that and has a proven model behind it that directly ties to business performance.

We conducted our first survey of our overall culture at the beginning of 2012. The data we got back enabled us to assess the current state of the company and to identify how we should focus and prioritize our efforts. We took a number of steps to take action on what we learned. We also developed a set of standard behaviors and capabilities that align with our business strategy that make our expectations for leaders and people clear.

At the end of 2013, we resurveyed the organization. The results speak for themselves as we’ve improved by 50 percent at working towards a common vision, 24 percent at raising performance everywhere, 32 percent at working together and 40 percent at changing with our markets. These are all critical factors in developing a high performance culture. We’re currently using what we found to continue to engage our people around how we can take AES to the next level.

Continuously Leveraging Talent Management Framework is Key
Our talent management framework enables us to attract, retain, motivate and grow our talent. We have an integrated approach to how we manage that  framework based on understanding our capability needs for today and what we must develop for tomorrow.

We spend a significant amount of time evaluating the current state of our talent through reviews, development assessments, measuring performance, obtaining feedback, and providing coaching and mentoring. We also have taken specific steps to better understand and grow our portfolio of talent and their abilities, competencies and experiences for the future in line with our goal of getting the right people to the right place at the right time.

These aren’t activities that we do once a year. We’re continually leveraging the framework we have in place to make key decisions, identify areas on which we need to focus and help our people develop to their fullest potential. Without the point solutions we have in place, it would be difficult to get the data and information we need to make timely and informed decisions and to take the right actions that will move AES forward.

Wishlist for the HR Domain in 2014
Based on what I’ve seen in the market I would say the following:

An Integrated Experience for Employees and Managers
If we want people to understand the full value and support a company offers them, it’s important for them to have one unified experience that has everything they need in one place. Currently, most areas of HR have a separate system requiring a separate login and password. The full value a company offers its people is diluted.

A Total Solution for HR
There are many point solutions in the market for every area of HR, but not a comprehensive solution from which to add components that enable us to manage, develop and reward our talent through the full lifecycle.

Increased Compatibility
We build new businesses by buying existing assets from other businesses. Each time we add a business into our portfolio; the integration of systems is timely and poses challenges.

Low Cost Way to Recruit Talent
There’s a good reason you’re hearing buzz around social media these days specifically related to HR. The technologies available are not only changing how we engage with our own people, but they’re driving how we recruit and helping to further define our employer brand. Social media adds a new level of transparency to corporate brands and giving people an inside look at the experience employers offer people.

Glassdoor and LinkedIn are both valuable tools that we’re just beginning to take full advantage of as a company by building and engaging our key target audiences. It has to be a two way conversation to be impactful and we’re developing our content to do just that. People are sharing their real time views with us whether it is about their individual experience as a prospective, current or past employee through Glassdoor or their perception of the company through LinkedIn. We’re seeing some traction. Not only are we starting to gain key insight, but we’re also tapping into a low cost way to recruit talent into the organization.

"Currently, most areas of HR have a separate system requiring a separate login and password. The full value a company offers its people is diluted"

Importance of Right People at the Right Time
At AES, we’ve recognized that our people are our energy. If we’re going to meet and surpass the expectations of our customers and shareholders, we need to have the right people in the right place at the right time. We have a very different mindset about our talent today than we did just a few years ago, which has required a very different role for Human Resources at the company.

Whether it is understanding and developing talent, ensuring our total rewards programs are competitive, providing mobility and global experiences, and engaging our people to achieve higher levels of performance and make AES a great place to work, we understand our primary role is getting our businesses’ the right people to the right place at the right time. That doesn’t mean administrative and transactional work isn’t important—that has to be done flawlessly to gain permission to operate at a strategic level.

Realities Create Challenges in Finding HR Solutions
We have a diverse workforce of 17,800 people spread across 20 different countries. We’ve built, bought and sold companies across our current geography and beyond. Our people speak 10 different languages. The jobs our people do range from reconnecting wires in an ice storm when the power goes out to running our finances in an office environment. All of these realities create very real challenges when it comes to finding an HR solution and supporting solution provider. My ultimate challenge as an HR leader is to implement a solution that not only solves these issues or enables us to deal with them more effectively but more importantly, helps us in achieving our business objectives.

Consider the realities of your business and what your strategic measures of success are. If you can’t build a business case for a solution that will support your organization’s strategic objectives or priorities and provide return over time, it’s not an investment worth making.

 

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