A chat with Cherie Mylordis, business transformation and innovation expert
Cherie, thanks so much for sitting down with us. Would you mind sharing a bit of your bio?
Of course. I have a deep background in organisational change and change management. I’m one of the founding members of Accenture’s global change practice — right there from the beginning, when it became a thing. And over the years, I’ve really focused on complex change, transformation, innovation, synthesised a lot of that. My mission is to help us reimagine the way we work for a better world.
What’s driven this focus?
It’s always from a place of really wanting to empower and enable people to do extraordinary things. People have so much potential, but they often feel quite stuck. And they’re not really enabled or empowered or equipped to really do their best work, and have the impact that they might have if they were helped to become unstuck.
Is that where HR can come in? Getting people unstuck, realising their potential?
The link with HR is critical, because it’s all about how we inspire, equip and enable our people to do amazing things. I have this hypothesis. Work has evolved so much, we’ve gone from steam to electricity to electronics to digital.
We’ve had this incredible transformation, but our ways of working are quite stuck. I could show you an org chart from 100 years ago, and it wouldn’t look too different from today.Cherie Mylordis, Nextgenify
We’re still stuck with that command and control hierarchy where the decisions come from the top, the job description, et cetera, that approach comes from the people who created those factories, the ones who held the power.
How do you fit into getting HR to get people unstuck?
Part of what I do is try and raise awareness. I do this by examining and then publicising extraordinary organisations. Organisation that do things radically differently and achieve incredible outcomes from a commercial perspective, from a people perspective and from a social impact perspective. There’s a very low awareness of these organisations, and we need to know about them and learn from them. I believe we’ve reached a signpost in the evolution of work, and we have a choice. We either go back to that well trodden path, that org chart vision from 100 years ago with a bit of hybrid working thrown in or we collectively take this further and get influenced by what these amazing organisations are actually doing now.
I know you’ll be publishing a white paper on the results from the in-depth research you’ve done, including your interviews with 100 leaders, but could you share one of your key findings?
Sure. The headline is that less than a third of the employees we surveyed said they are doing their best work.
That’s a lot of people who sound pretty unfulfilled and organisations missing out because of this. How do you get these people unstuck and doing their best work?
For people to do their best work they need to know where they are going and why. The people who are doing their best work have absolute clarity on purpose and direction. The people who are not, face organisational confusion, and constantly changing decisions and priorities. The second piece is all about culture. The people who are doing their best work feel empowered. They have that autonomy, and they’re trusted to bring their ideas to the table. The people who are not doing their best work are feeling micromanaged. They’re feeling stuck in the hierarchy.
So how do we get people unstuck?
By creating an environment that values autonomy, transparency and embracing the motivations and strengths of our people.
HR leaders have a really important part to play because they can help people connect what drives them to the organisation’s purpose and direction, which unlocks their intrinsic motivation.Cherie Mylordis, Nextgenify
They are also well positioned to help people identify and play to their strengths. When these pieces come together, we have fertile ground for the organisation and its people to thrive, and that’s when I see extraordinary things happen.
Does this mean HR understanding whether people are a fit for the culture?
Absolutely. In fact, one of the extraordinary organisations I follow will actually give you $5,000 to leave in the first month if you’ve realised you’re not a fit for the company.
That can seem a little negative, but I think I understand…it’s about an organisation knowing that it must get the people and environment fit right for success to follow. So in this sense HR has a huge role to play, are there some roadblocks to them playing it?
Yes. I had a government client where the HR team was just so under the pump. They were dealing with transactional stuff everyday –just smashed. At the same time, they were supposed to be strategic. In fact, they were supposed to be rolling out eight different strategies, but at the same time they were being bombarded by the usual HR work, very tactical, and couldn’t get their heads above water. This was a huge pain point for them because ultimately they were going to be judged by the delivery of the strategy.
What do you think causes this situation?
People talk a lot about HR earning a seat at the table, but maybe we should flip that. Maybe the c-suite needs to earn its connection with its people. In other words, the organisation and the c-suite has to own people management and people leadership. It needs to partner with HR rather than think “just go talk to HR about that one.” The c-suite can’t outsource people and HR needs to be an enabler in helping an organisation that might be struggling with the tactical versus the strategic move toward that if possible. In other words, the CEO should embrace “I’m leading my people and HR is supporting me in that.” You need to know your people and how they fit –and prioritise that across the organisation. And then you need to move in a unified direction.
Thank you for your time, Cherie.
Listen to Cherie Mylordis and our distinguished panellists as they explore what the C-Suite want from their HR Leaders. Watch now.