This month we speak to Aaron Webster, Director of Talent and Performance at Capita. We have a whirlwind and entertaining 5 minutes to discuss Aaron’s talent philosophy, his biggest career achievements and his homemade cider (!). Oooh-aarrrrr let’s jump in.
Aaron, What is your HR background?
After graduating with a degree in Geography in 2000 it obviously meant complete sense to start off working in HR consulting! I then moved into Executive Recruitment working across the public and private sectors with some truly inspiring leaders. This was followed by a period of time in a sales and marketing leadership role.
I guess you could then say I have spent the last 4.5 years in ‘real’ People function roles, firstly leading a resourcing function and then moving into my current role within Talent Management.
What does your role as Director of Talent and Performance at Capita entail?
I have the best role in Capita! I have the responsibility globally to enable all our 63,000 employees working across our 6 operating divisions to be the best they can be. To create an environment where they can make an impact, be themselves and help shape our future while we expand their horizons. I do this by working across the global HR function delivering programmes of work in performance, development, learning, succession planning, mentoring, coaching, leadership development, potential development, resourcing and internal mobility.
Capita as a business is transforming and that means our approach to talent management has to enable that transformation while the whole HR function transforms itself. We are doing this from a historical base of underinvestment to now meet a level of high aspiration and expectation. So it is a great job but one that challenges me every day.
What’s your talent philosophy?
I think your talent philosophy needs to be adapted to the organisation you are working in and relevant for that moment in time. So currently mine is:
Simple – Make things simple and then simplify that. It is hard to do but it makes everything open, transparent, accessible and inclusive.
Human – Our Values and Behaviours guide all our key decisions and we look to embed them in everything we do. They are equally important when it comes to understanding and recognising individual and team performance.
Impact – Whatever we do has to deliver measurable value for my colleagues and Capita. That means it has to be grounded in a deep knowledge of the business and its strategy so we create better outcomes now and for the future.
Or maybe I should have said. Human Impact to create better outcomes.
If these things are done well then the employee experience will be good at the base level.
A challenge of working for a large organisation can be the ability to truly innovative, how have you overcome that challenge, and what are some of the innovative initiatives/programmes that you have introduced?
I guess I am lucky that even though Capita is a large organisation we behave like a small one when it comes to innovation.
For instance part of our business is Capita Scaling Partners who help start-ups that have a synergy with Capita grow faster. We constantly look to digitise our business and disrupt ourselves using data and automation. And talent is no different.
We have rolled out Human Centred Design Thinking training to over 90 leaders to enable others to stimulate innovation across Capita. Globally this year we have used agile methods to implement Workday, rolled out a self-development tool that will also identify those with potential and we have piloted and rolled out a digital coaching platform.
When you look at your career to date what has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is always my next one! I look back to reflect and learn but I am always looking forward when it comes to success.
What will 2020 have in store for me? Something cool around using data, play and technology to drive feedback, culture and profitability maybe. Or maybe it will be balancing work, my four children, spending time with my wife, making my own cider, still playing the odd game of football and cricket and maybe drinking some cider if it tastes alright!
If you could change one thing in HR now what would it be?
The world of work is changing rapidly. Businesses that succeed will embrace an innovative, flexible and fast paced people agenda led by a confident HR function. Let’s stop worrying about our ‘position’ in business and create a human centred revolution at work.
Work that develops the right skills for the future while driving real value out of automation and the new relationship with machines. By doing this colleagues, customers, the business and society as a whole will benefit.
I stand down from my soap box!
What advice would you give to a fellow talent professional who might be struggling to get the buy-in that he/she is hoping for in their organisation?
Get yourself and others involved in your work (using human centred design thinking) to answer some key questions. What challenges are we facing? What value are we delivering to our stakeholders? What outcomes do we want to achieve? Why is that important to the strategy of the organisation? How are you going to measure success? Why are you passionate about what you are doing? How can we do things differently? What questions aren’t we wanting to ask ourselves? What will happen if we do nothing?
Then work with the business to prioritise the problems you want to solve together. Once you have that you can ruthlessly deliver an agenda that is completely shared.
Afterall, Einstein who I hear was pretty clever, once said “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions”.