In order to stay engaged, you need to stay current. One way to do this is to attend industry or professional association meetings. I did this yesterday and was inspired by a presentation at New York Human Resource Planning Society (NYHRPS) which added value to my thinking. ….Every once in a while you meet someone you really feel a connection with on an intellectual level. I met such a person, Steve Richardson, years ago when I was doing an assignment for high potential executives at American Express. Steve now in his own consulting business, is working with the Estee Lauder Companies. He and the client, Janice Hall, VP HR presented at NYHRPS, their topic Engagement: Follow The Yellow Brick Road. I’ve learned a lot about the power of metaphor having been trained at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland years ago. Painting a picture and telling a story are two key ways of getting complex concepts across. Executives need to increase their use of metaphor and story telling as a means of re-engaging their workforce. The audience was filled with senior HR professionals packed like sardines in a long narrow room. No one left early. All were riveted to hear the Estee Lauder Companies story. Ms. Hall runs an “engagement unit” this is her dream position.
The company has a new CEO, Fabrizio Freda, who comes from P&G. A very different perceived culture from that of touchy feely Lauder, where the brands all ran independently and strategy flowed from the bottom up. The challenge now is to keep the great aspects of their culture and brands, while bringing greater efficiencies and systems into play. The strategic focus is now being created and driven from the top and cascading down into brands and services. Building cross brand relationships among executives is also an initiative and I know first hand how effective this can be as it was a hallmark of my work at American Express. It results in big payoffs.
What I found very useful was the use of a “house” to describe the reinvention of the HR function from tactical to strategic. Actually I think they are using the house metaphor to demonstrate the massive cultural change initiative they are going through throughout the company.
I have no idea if they will be doing more presenting or writing on this process but suggest you be on the lookout for anything on the Estee Lauder Companies. They appear to have truly embraced Organization Engagement and it’s affecting their stock price as well as their overall effectiveness.
Those interested in learning more about metaphors and stories you can find some helpful information at AnneMiller.com