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PeopleOps Strategies for Iconic Companies

There is no safe harbor.

A common assumption is that big companies can plow through rough seas more easily than smaller boats. In our experience working with companies across the spectrum, size isn’t correlated with smoother sailing. The Titanic is a cultural icon for a reason. 

As the workplace evolves and innovation continues at top speed, it can be more difficult for large, multi-layered organizations to ride the waves without incident. For instance, we saw a leading tech company roll Employee Experience/HR up under the CFO. 

We understand the leadership really respects the CFO. Fantastic. We’re just curious…would you ever see a company roll Finance under the Chief People Officer? 

Our experience is that strategic Chief People Officers in iconic companies can be like a radar detecting problems ahead before they cause a tear in the hull (or key crew members to jump ship).   

This is the final post in our summer mini-series addressing PeopleOps strategies based on enterprise size. Looking closer to shore, here are a few areas creating People Ops waves for large corps right now.

Executive Turnover – Smooth Sailing or ???

As companies grow into icons, turnover is inevitable…in fact, much of it is needed. People who thrive in smaller environments often aren’t the same ones who do the same in larger organizations. Yet the stakes are high during executive turnover because often there isn’t a smooth transition of knowledge, priorities, and, well, actual leadership, to the employees below.  

When changing leaders on deck, maintaining the underlying continuity is critical, especially given how employee issues that aren’t handled well lead to real risks for the business.  

While sometimes the new hire hand-off is seamless, the more responsibility that’s involved, the dicier it gets. One solution is to assign a strong mid-level People Ops consultant to project manage the transition. 

Consider it from the team’s perspective.  What’s more disconcerting to them than knowing their leader is leaving and not seeing a functional, smart transition plan? When it’s not handled well, the rest of the PeopleOps team jumps ship. Now, if that’s the goal, we advise to just let them all go in a proactive, clear way. 

What we have seen again and again is how an interim hire helps you dodge the bullets you don’t even know are coming. They save money, time, and your sanity…just ask anyone, including your inner wisdom.

Also, if you don’t know who the new PeopleOps leader will be, but a full-on executive search is tricky with budgets right now, consider an hourly executive search consultant to bolster your internal efforts (zero surprise, we love doing all of this for you).

DEI Backlash (and remember, we like DEIB, as belonging is key)

Did you see the WSJ story that blamed the Silicon Valley Bank failure on “distractions” from DEI initiatives? Here’s another take on it. If you work in PeopleOps/HR for a big company, you likely already know what’s brewing. We are seeing a quieter vote to stall DEI through zero budget or  DEI role layoffs. 

Gartner reports that 42% of employees believe the company’s DEI efforts are divisive. 40% agree that employees are increasingly alienated by or resentful of DEI efforts. 

It’s tricky. 

Or is it? Iconic companies earn their iconic badge over time. They don’t give in to ideological resistance, forfeiting leadership on key issues, especially as the data show that inclusion and diversity lead to better business outcomes.

With all the swirl, can you guess what the cost might be when leaders stall on DEIB? We are guessing it’s not zero. 

And practically speaking, which bet would you take…that the strategy of doing nothing will address resistance to DEI? Is it time to head to Vegas? 

Or, maybe a strategic approach might be a better ROI? Perhaps consider hedging your bets first. Look to your data for how to best spend your time and money. 

Is it in having an open conversation with your leadership team about positioning as we head into 2024…what DEIB course is your team genuinely interested in charting? 

Or consider where the blind spots are – pockets of distrust, confusion, or lack of knowledge stalling productivity. Could an objective outsider add some clarity that benefits the entire team? 

Re-org, re-org, re-org

One of our favorite side-eyes from PeopleOps leaders is the reshuffling on deck that happens at larger companies. We’ve had mid-level HR leaders tell us about having over 5 different managers in under 18 months. Deep breath.

Some of that turnover may be due to the RTO tussle. One recent data point surprised us…even after years of women asking for flextime and hybrid work arrangements, Forbes reports that more men are working remotely than women. 38% of men are full-time remote, 23% part-time, compared to 30% of women working remotely full-time, 22% part-time. 

We hope your re-orgs are faring better. When asked about better practices for doing re-orgs, we like to keep it to the timeless elements that include:

  • Clear business reasons with metrics assigned to the what/who/how 
  • Co-creating with key stakeholders about what the optimal org structures might look like
  • Considering a few alternatives to stretch the thinking about what’s possible and not get wedded to one particular point of view
  • Communication, communication, communication

Full Steam Ahead

One of the most common questions we get is, “How do we adjust our PeopleOps priorities based on the size of our clients?” In the last three posts, we’ve drawn on our experience helping all-hands on deck with companies of all sizes. 

The common throughline is that a little bit of planning, refreshed strategy, correctly resourced priorities, objective perspectives, and clear communication go a long way in smoothing out the PeopleOps journey, no matter what your size. 

School is back in session. The holidays and 2024 are just around the corner. Now is a great time to reach out for a Chai chat to get some PO perspective on Q4 and beyond. We are on your team! 

“Forshay helped us find a Human Resources partner who could take our organization to the next level.”

–Stacia Levenfeld, CEO, California Association of Food Banks