System thinking – Jo’s Story

Using Systems Thinking in HR

We’ve been using the Systems Thinking methodology in HR to look at some of our processes, with the aim of streamlining and improving efficiency. A group of staff from all parts and levels of HR were trained in the summer and spent an intensive fortnight in September finding out more about the demand coming into  our services and tracking cases to understand what actually happens with the work flow.

I think it’s fair to say that a number of us were a bit cynical at the outset – we all had moans and groans about various processes in HR and it wasn’t the first time that we had looked at some of these and made some changes, but the difference this time is that we’ve been able to involve a cross-section of staff and the Systems Thinking approach has helped us to look at some of the issues in a different way.

For the recruitment process, around 15 staff from across 8 teams attended the sessions – indicative in itself of the many people and teams currently involved in recruitment! They undertook some more detailed process mapping to fully understand all the tasks and inter-relationships and then identified the ‘value steps’ (this is the work that adds value from the customer’s point of view) Just to make things even more ‘interesting’, the group will also need to consider how potential developments in recruitment practice might also impact upon our process in the future.

Marion Geare from the Strategic Recruitment Team has been one of those involved in the work – ”I think it’s fair to say that there was some concern and scepticism at the outset about what Systems Thinking was and how it might impact upon our work. In reality, it has been really useful to talk to people across HR who are involved in different aspects of the same process to better understand the commonalities and differences in approach. It will be interesting to see what proposals the group comes up with to improve the process and deliver better outcomes for our customers in a more efficient way.  I feel this has the potential to be a very positive process.”

Another piece of work has been focusing on the restructures process. David Rose, one of our Business Partners is involved in this work.

“Having dealt with the HR operations aspect of restructures in the past, I know how much work is required when a service decides to remodel their workforce…The great thing about the Systems Thinking approach is that we can fully understand all the parts of the process and the interdependencies between different elements of HR and service areas, which means that hopefully we’ll be able to come up with some proposals which will make it easier for all of us.”

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