“Working Through the Muck” to Create Consistencies that Result in Rapid Growth.
Webber Kerr’s President Adam Lloyd meets with Anne Szatmary, former SVP of HR at JLL (Jones Lange Lasalle). Anne has most recently led the HR centralization efforts at JLL that have created a culture of growth and exceptional talent.
Anne is an HR Operations Executive who has thrived in energetic environments where collaboration has been the foundation of success aligning Human Resources and the organization. Her last two roles focused on the real estate services industries where she centralized services and models which, in effect, straightened out the spaghetti bowl and helped drive tangible results.
Anne has been the person who can sort through the muck to find solutions and implement them with effective Project and Program management. She considers herself a self-proclaimed compliance geek, and uses that knowledge when implementing support programs.
AL: Anne, you’ve achieved a lot just at JLL, what are a couple of your most proud accomplishments?
AS: There are so many projects I’ve worked on over the years that focused on finding the right level of service, at the right cost point while developing people in the process. The fun of it all was in determining new ways of thinking and getting a job done while getting the group excited about the change. Some of the most notable projects were:
Developing and executing a total rewards portal, career map and compensation structure project plan with all aspects of implementation. It included project development, process design, technology requirements planning, resource requirements, budgeting, training, and communication plans.
I led the design and implementation of an HR Service Center focused on process compliance and service delivery, including redesign of centralized hiring, benefits and payroll support modules. Developed structure and support processes for new career map and compensation programs, while driving change through consistent application and direct connection to managers.
The creation and execution of a detailed HR Service Center training plan that incorporated technical training requirements. It focused on long-term skill development and building of a high-performing team.
We also implemented a centralized employee relations team to deliver effective solutions, training and metrics on employee relations issues.
AL: How do organizations know if (and when) they should centralize their HR practices? Are there any indicators for current decentralizors (I think I made this up) to pay attention to that hint it’s time to change?
AS: It all comes down to size, cost and the expected growth of the organization. Once an organization meets a level in which service levels for basic HR transactions decrease, while the cost of providing that support increases, you know it’s time to consider a change. Take for an example – if your HRBP community is being utilized by the business to answer or conduct HR transactional work and that work is being completed at the expense of not hiring the right talent for open role… you should to consider if there is a better way to get the work done. Pushing repeatable tasks to a centralized team will increase response rates and service levels and allow the more expensive HRBP to focus on activities that drive business results. Also – if your business expects huge growth over the next several years, creating a centralized model allows them to scale services at a reduce costs. The team can absorb work at a much higher rate than an individual support model.
AL: What’s the downside or potential risk, if any, to a centralized model?
AS: Success always depends on how connected you are to what the business wants/needs and their ability to adapt to that change. If you don’t engage the business in the change or get their buy-in, you may not have them willing adopt the services at the engagement level you need them to in order to achieve the optimum result with your HRBP community. Stakeholder management is important – that includes the business, HR Business Partners and the HR organization as a whole.
AL: Was centralizing HR within JLL an initiative that HR itself led, sold and executed? How do you gain buy-in to areas of the company that may express resistance?
AS: Yes this was an HR driven initiative. Prior to launching the work, we met with several different business leaders to ask what they wanted to get from HR – where did they want the focus to be. So many responded that they needed to have their HR Business Partners focused on areas that drove business results – like hiring, talent management, employee engagement – taking HR transactional work off their plates was an easy sell. Especially since we weren’t adding costs into the system but rather centralizing and reworking activities in a more productive manner. We moved work centrally, brought consistency to the employee population and create a way for every employee to be able to have an HR partner rather than just the select few. It was a win/win across the board.
AL: What is a key take-away, or two, you would give any organization that is pondering the idea of centralizing HR for growth?
AS: One of the big success’ we achieved was in the creation of a model that allowed for pipelining future HR talent. When we hired in the HR Service Center, we hired degreed, HR professionals young in their career who were willing to learn from the ground up. They learned the business, the back-office work on how things got done, and how to work together as a team. All of this allowed them to grow professionally and this pool of individuals were often first looked at to fill open HRBP roles. We’ve had a very high success rate of individuals moving to an HRBP role and once they did, they tended to be more successful as an HRBP than those we hired from outside the organization. It was success all the way around.
If you are considering centralizing services, make sure to look at all the transactional work that can have a consistent approach to completion, which allows you the scale you’ll need in the future. Clearly define the role of the centralized service team vs. the HRBP community so that there is no confusion on where the work goes and set up the right metrics to measure success from the business perspective – not the internal HR perspective.