I was recently reading an article where Mary Barra (Chief Executive at General Motors) talked about her challenges in reviewing a workplace dress code, rather than putting her energy into a company restructure.
Barra brainstormed her idea to reduce the dress code to two words, “dress appropriately”, with her HR Department. They articulated that “dress appropriately” could appear on the surface, however more details would need to be captured in the employee manual. She persisted and reduced the organisation’s 10 page document from 10 pages down to 2 words – dress appropriately!
With the code now finalised, she faced a new challenge within the organisation. The senior level directors did not approve of the simplification of the code. After conversations to understand each other’s view point, the simplified code was successfully implemented. The exercise was also a strong contributor to positively shifting the General Motor’s culture.
It is important that the HR team facilitates the engagement of key users from across the organisation to develop and implement required HR policies and procedures that will allow the organisation to achieve its objectives. As Barra shares, “…if you let people own policies themselves – especially at the first level of people supervision – it helps develop them. It was an eye-opening experience, but I now know that these small little things changed our culture powerfully. They weren’t the only factor, but they contributed significantly.”
Just imagine how other HR policies and procedures may look if the leaders own the language and content of HR policies and procedures, rather than the HR team.