Q&A: Cafe Nero reveals the link between ethics and organisational purpose

Head of HR at Cafe Nero, Shereen Daniels joined HRD Connect to discuss how to build a sense of belonging in your organisation. She also revealed the importance of a leader’s beliefs and ethical character in delivering organisational purpose

What does a purposeful leader look like and what qualities define them?

It is someone that is really committed to a vision they have set out. That doesn’t mean that they can’t change their mind, but just that they know where they are going, how they can articulate that and take people with them. It is also somebody who is comfortable with who they are by giving their full selves to the role. This is not just about the job title or hiding behind it, it’s someone who’s happy to be their authentic self, the good, bad and slightly different.

How important are a leader’s beliefs and ethical character in delivering organisational purpose?

I think it’s massively important and more so than ever, because we are surrounded with lots of stories in the press about businesses or business leaders that have done questionable things whether its themselves or whether on behalf of shareholders. I think more and more people are taking an interest in the leader they are working with,  you want to know what that leader stands for and you want to know that they’re committed and will uphold that. They don’t want to be associated with a scandal. I think it is about authenticity and knowing that you can have a real insight into what the leader truly thinks and believes. Then it is knowing how that aligns with what the organisation is trying to deliver.

How do you build a strong sense of belonging in your organisation?

You need to make sure that you empower your teams and individuals to do their very best. What I mean by that is, you look at how decisions are made and how much scope people have to make decisions about what they do and how they do it. You make sure you can facilitate lots of informal touch points, so I always talk about the idea that not everything has to be organised fun. When companies say you must turn up and you must have fun, it’s how you can facilitate informal get-togethers. It doesn’t have to be once a year or twice a year, but things on a regular basis that is dictated by what the teams want and not what the business thinks they want.

What initiatives can HR implement to encourage emotional connection?

It is how you communicate about what you are doing and how you are doing it even when things are going wrong. Right now, we think we only have to do bells and whistles communication when things are going really well. However,  people are just as interested in our views and responses when things don’t go well. They want to know what we will do differently, what we have learnt and what we are disappointed in. Even from a leadership point of view, have we made a bad call? Are we owning up to that? I think that sets quite a tone, so people think we are all human, not everybody is perfect because if a leader has admitted to the fact that they made the wrong call with a certain decision, I won’t be so worried maybe about owning up to something that didn’t quite go right, or pointing out things that don’t feel quite right so I think that’s quite important.

How can HR help employees realise their purpose, and what can the HR Function do ensure a leader is leading with purpose?

I think some of it is about educating the line managers, not in a workshop way but when they are creating or executing development opportunities for their teams. It’s about making sure that they are challenging ‘old school approaches’ – that they must do X, Y and Z because it’s written down on this job description. It’s helping people understand that you can still get a job done whilst having lives outside of work and some of that might cross-over into work. As long as they do what they need to, that will keep them happy and engaged, we can help them understand that engagement is not just about turning up to work. It is also about other things that happen outside that are also important.

How do you make sure a culture of inclusion is integrally linked to the organization’s strategic direction?

It starts with making sure that you are talking about it with the board of directors and they’re talking about it as something that is not a separate initiative. It’s just how you weave it into our DNA and our daily practice, again that is making sure that we’ve pin pointed things that help inclusion e.g. get-togethers, informal meetings, getting project teams together, dealing with poor performance and how we deal with behaviours that aren’t right. All those are opportunities to reinforce how we do things, which ultimately is culture.

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Shereen Daniels will be speaking at the HRD Summit 2018, to join her visit www.hrdsummit.com

 

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