Category Archives: management advice

Organisational culture – why bother?

Organisations to date are still grappling with the complexities of defining a common organisational purpose. This becomes even more complicated during a business acquisition or merger, especially when there are major differences in organisational values and behaviours. This is also evident when large multi-national companies enter less mature markets and quickly discover that local
organisations have their own unique way of doing business in that particular business environment. Sometimes what is deemed ‘unacceptable’ in some markets is quite ‘acceptable’ somewhere else. This is a constant challenge facing all types of organisations globally. Culture will ultimately define a company’s belief system and expectations for the future, and will invariably influence success or failure in a highly competitive global marketplace.
As a result of greater focus on ‘cultural fit’ and all things related, Private Equity firms are now investing considerable time and resources to better understand a target company’s organisational dynamics before concluding any deal. This could be a major factor in realising value from the deal down the line. A company that has a defined philosophy for doing business will more likely have a
better strategic vision, which in turn makes it more appealing to investors, internal and external talent pools and customers alike. An organisation’s culture could either make it or break it over the long term. Thus, in attempting to create a high performance organisation, it becomes vital for senior leadership to define the culture required for success, or in the case of M&A’s, creating a vision for the future that will aim to bring the best of both organisational cultures together to deliver maximum value for all stakeholders. It is at this point that a company’s senior leadership team have an opportunity to etch themselves in corporate history and create the environment for making the company highly successful. Senior executives need to grasp this opportunity by ensuring they live
the values of the organisation and become effective role models for the rest of the organisation to follow. Doing this effectively at the top of the hierarchy instils confidence and trust in the layers below and has a mesmerising effect on motivating the wider workforce.
It is never an easy task to create or change cultural identity however with the added pressure of globalisation, the race for good talent and ever changing technological advancement, global organisations cannot afford not to invest in creating distinct cultural identities. Companies around the world are investing heavily on optimising business performance. Process and technology change alone will not make a difference unless there has been a carefully thought out people change strategy which is aligned to the strategic vision of the organisation. Many transformation efforts fail due to poor people change planning. On some large programmes it is often evident that ‘lip-service’ is paid to the impact of change on people and in many cases prevents the successful adoption of new ways of working. People need to be engaged early, to instil the values of trust and integrity. Many organisations leave it too late and lose immense credibility internally as well as externally as information starts to leak everywhere. A company serious about reputation and brand attractiveness will have as part of its organisational DNA, clear values around trust, transparency and commitment to treating people with due care and not just paying ‘lip-service’ to employee consultation. In conclusion, all aspects of transformational change require clear linkage to the corporate strategy of the organisation. This is often neglected and in many cases leads to the failure of the change
initiative, wasting valuable time, resources and energy. It is therefore vital for companies to establish the right type of culture, be it for the purposes of expanding into new emerging markets, M&A’s or a brand new start up looking to establish a foothold in the open market. A well-defined organisational culture provides the starting point for all stakeholders to feel part of something unique. This only encourages greater differentiation between competing organisations and its influence over products, services, quality and the ability to attract specific talent pools.

Vellendra Sannasy is an Organisational Change Professional with extensive experience in leading strategic and operational business change. Vellendra has worked with global organisations in the UK, US, Asia and South Africa, with a great appreciation for cultural
diversity and different ways of working. He is also the Founder of StratChange Consulting, which is a niche consultancy, providing strategic and operational guidance to C Suite Executives and Senior Management teams undergoing complex organisational change.

How Do Corporate Mentoring Schemes Benefit Business?

Mentoring is an increasingly popular way of helping new employees settle in to a new position or a new company.

When new members of staff join a company, they can really appreciate having a mentor on hand to guide them and advise them about their role, the company and career progression. Being able to mentor a new colleague also has reciprocal benefits for mentors – it can be really fulfilling being able to share skills and experience with someone who is keen to learn more. Professionally, it benefits all concerned.

When IT firm Sun Microsystems looked at the career progression of around 1,000 employees over a period of five years, they found that mentoring appeared to be an excellent career choice:

  • People who had been involved in a mentoring programme, either as a mentor or mentee, were 20% more likely to have been awarded a pay rise in the period studied.
  • Mentees were five times more likely to have been promoted than employees who didn’t have mentors.
  • Mentors did even better; they were six times more likely to have been promoted than those not involved in a mentoring programme.

A good mentor will able to provide guidance for their mentee in the skills that are necessary for their particular area of work, and introduce them to the right contacts, resources and professional groups that will help them in their role. They offer practical help and support, and in some cases can become a trusted ally, being a good source of advice for any problems that might crop up during the mentoring period and beyond.

So, what are the benefits for a mentor?

A chance to develop leadership skills:  One of the key strengths of a good leader is an ability to inspire others, and through mentoring an experienced staff member can provide inspiration for new employees. Mentoring junior and inexperienced staff can boost a mentor’s existing leadership abilities and also helps to provide an opportunity to develop these skills in a way that benefits all concerned.

Improves the mentor’s own performance: A mentor survey carried out by Durham University in 2009, found that mentors believed the greatest benefit of mentoring others was that it gave them an opportunity to reflect on their own working practices.  Explaining systems to other people can often reveal easier or more effective ways of carrying out key tasks. Having to explain the way that a company or organisation works to a complete newcomer can also help the mentor to gain a better understanding of it, which in turn can help them to improve on their own knowledge.

Helps to develop new skills: Being a mentor helps develop essential career related skills such as coaching, how to give (and to receive) feedback, and it also gives mentors an opportunity to share their own best practice, a skill that can be underdeveloped in some employees.  One of the most important skills that can be boosted by a mentoring relationship is interpersonal skills; not only through the mentor-mentee relationship but also through the mentor making new contacts within the organisation, finding the right person to go to, and introducing the mentee to key personnel.

Job Satisfaction: There’s no denying that being able to guide another person through their career development, and being the ‘go-to’ person for somebody, can provide mentors with a great deal of job satisfaction. Jaded or uninspired staff members can find that their enthusiasm for their old role perks up no end when they are tasked with showing a new person the ropes, along with their sense of responsibility.

Personal Confidence: To be asked to mentor another person involves knowing a great deal about your own role, and assumes a certain level of competence, not just in the role, but in the individual’s interpersonal skills and commitment to the job. It can build up flagging confidence levels when an employee is asked to take on responsibility for another colleague’s introduction to the company, and improve their confidence levels through knowing that their employer trusts them to be able to carry out the mentoring process effectively.

Develops professional relationships:  Being part of a recognised mentoring programme can make the mentor more visible within the company, enhancing peer recognition. The fact that the mentor has made the effort to become more involved in the organisation by being part of a mentoring scheme reflects well on them, and can help to improve their reputation.

Unlike traditional training programs mentoring programs are a cost-effective, time-effective and beneficial way to get new employees up to speed on their new role, and keep existing employees engaged in theirs.

Featured images:

Written by Michael Palmer, an Oxford based business graduate. He writes about people management and setting objectives for Cezanne HR.

What On Earth Is Talent Communication?

A phrase that may not be that familiar to you is something you’ll need to get to know if you’re going to get the right people to join your business and see you developing into the future. In order to find the right people, you need to know about their talents. To get their talents to join forces with your own, you need to communicate with them. Talent communication puts you in touch with the people who could be the next generation of employees and executives in your organisation.

Depending on how early you want to target future talent, there are different ways in which you can communicate to get them thinking about your organisation when they’re looking for a place to work. The type of individuals you’re looking to attract will also make a difference to the way in which you put your message across.

Getting in early

One way in which organisations large and small have historically attracted some of the top talent in the country is by joining the Milk Round of recruitment fairs at top universities to put them in touch with box-fresh graduates looking for work in the best companies in the UK and beyond. However, some organisations are looking to get in even earlier in order to secure the most talented young minds and direct them towards study and development that will best suit them for a career in that company.

Big hitter

Some international big hitters are now turning to agencies to help them gain insights into targeting future talent before they leave school and move on to further studies. Careers advice services are crying out for ways to better engage with young people as they decide what they want to do with their lives and companies who are able to offer something that’s compelling and helps teachers and advisers to better support young people at this vital stage is greatly welcomed.

Finding the right way to approach and communicate with children and young people is tricky. As a demographic group, they are rapidly changing and using more and more different modes of communication which can make it difficult to keep up. Finding the right language that resonates with children and young people can be a challenge, so it helps to work with specialists in the field of communication with this group to get the most out of your efforts.

Getting the big hitters

While it makes good sense to appeal to future employees early and build your brand image in the minds of young people, this doesn’t stop the need to recruit the best people later in their careers. No amount of graduate recruitment and succession planning will fill all the gaps in your teams and when it comes to going out to find the right people for your vacancies it helps to have a clear strategy.

Big Hitter

As budgets get tighter and the impetus to find the best quality people grows, making sure that you’re targeting your communications at just the right groups is increasingly important. Just putting an ad in the newspaper isn’t enough if you want to get the best; a well-rounded strategy that takes in placing articles in key industry publications to build reputation and brand recognition and covers the growing importance of social media marketing will make sure your hard-pressed recruitment budget comes up with the goods.


Whether you’re looking to attract talented young people embarking on the first steps of their careers or fill vacancies at the highest level of your organisation, seeking advice to develop a carefully targeted communication strategy will pay dividends in terms of finding the right people and building their appetite to join your team.

Written by Nathan Griffiths who recommends for tips on talent communication.

Recruitment Tips For Employers

Project Management is an integral part of any progressive organisation and as such bringing in new talent should always be at the forefront of your mind. There are many means of finding new potential employees for free through the use of social media such as twitter, LinkedIn, and personal websites. Therefore I don’t suggest you only look for fresh talent when a requirement becomes apparent in the business – you should look to get ahead of the game and anticipate where individuals can fit in to your strategic plan.


However once sign off for a new position has been made you should look to take a structured approach to attracting applications as well as going out to individuals.

  • First of all you need to understand what key skills are required for the role – by writing a job description from scratch rather than using old descriptions, you will start to form a clear list of needs. Avoiding an extensive list which may put potential talent out of the running when you don’t actually need particular (old) skills.
  • Then write a balanced advert which really attracts people to want to apply rather than being put off by everything you need from them – what can you offer them, this doesn’t just come down to remuneration. Think outside the box, such as training, coaching, work environment, social activities etc.
  • Advertise – as popular as your company website may be, you need to reach out further afield and attract talent in through job adverts. There are PM specific job boards which don’t cost the earth to advertise on and will bring in the right talent as they are specific to the PM field. Also think about putting the feelers out on LinkedIn and on twitter etc.
  • As hiring manager – you manage the application process.
  • Once the applications start coming in – don’t work with a list of tick boxes as this could quickly discount a number of potentially great candidates. CVs are supposed to include all details but if your advert and job description aren’t clear enough or an application was made without tailoring to your role you may miss out. It is easy to say that the candidate does not have sufficient buy-in but at the end of the day there is little assistance for professionals to really understand what is required of them in a competitive market. Therefore the best CVs are getting all the attention not necessarily the best candidates.
  • Work out an effective filtering system – even if this is an email response with specific questions to the candidate to answer, clearing up any missing details. Telephone interviews and skype interviews are a great way to filter out any uncertainties without using up precious time and resources.

Make sure you know from the outset what it is you really need and use your gut instinct when reviewing CVs, by introducing a filtering process in the initial stages you can really start to get together a strong shortlist of candidates for interview and ensure you are seeing the right people.