HR business are people!

People and Culture in Philip Morris International

Photo: Philip Morris collection

Meeting talents by stepping into digital

In the era of digital transformation the role of human resources has been dramatically changing. It has changed our perspective on learning, development as well as entire utilization of human potential. Yet, it hasn’t stopped there – it has affected the entire working environment which we should view as a new digital ecosystem in today’s world.

All above calls for HR action should blend new technologies, personal, organizational and ultimately business growth in the best possible way. It goes without saying that HR has to play a critical role on a digital transformation journey, primarily in creating contemporary, inclusive, corporate culture, open to ‘play’ with innovations. Innovation refers to how we work, we do our business, cooperate, value successes and failures.

In addition, such a hectic situation puts even greater emphasis on ‘talent management’ which has been by far the hottest topic in HR for the last few decades. Digitalization just introduces new strategic goals in Talent management to close the knowledge/skills and behavioral gaps. It could be streamed through hiring and leadership succession processes by utilizing new technologies. Yet, a far bigger challenge stems from the fact that new hires who are digital savvy, regardless how talented they are, cannot change existing corporate culture and fully address the organizational knowledge gap. Very often, newly hired digital talents in non-digital organizations are like a drop in the ocean. In order to make a real turnaround, change the culture and digitally transform an organization, a critical mass of existing employees have to embark on the transformation journey. The role of HR is crucial there. It is critical in connecting employees and developing relationships with them, from mapping out an employee’s journey to developing engagement and new skills. Consequently, as before the digitalization era, HR needs to guide employees through each stage of their career development. Therefore, Talent management remains the key component to business success as it allows companies to hire, develop and retain top talents as well as to manage employee performance using various tools, including feedback and training.

Photo: Philip Morris collection

We are customer-oriented at the core
PMI recognizes those needs and works in a systematic way towards achieving this by creating the culture where our customers are the reason we operate.

In HR, our main customers are both external candidates and our employees. So we look at Talent Management in a holistic manner in which our ultimate goal is to attract and retain the best talents. In order to do so, we need to have proper systems and, more importantly, excellent practices which facilitate getting potential employees interested in our company, engagement, development, career progression and wellbeing.
Every approach matters
During this journey, we grow personally, learning to lead differently and ultimately changing our mindset and behavior.
This means that we continuously develop, and we do this following the 70/20/10 approach. We believe that working is equal to learning, and we shift employees’ minds in that direction.

70% of our time, we focus our attention and energy on working on the stretchy tasks which will help us acquire or develop certain functional/soft skills, which will help us, either as individuals or an organization, to prepare for the new upcoming challenges in the end. No matter if this is a technology or career progression challenge, we need to be prepared as much as we can in this fast-paced environment. We believe that ability and willingness to learn from experience is the foundation for making the impact. To adapt and grow, we all need to be constantly involved in new experiences and challenges that, by their very nature, foster learning. Some of these new opportunities will come their way in new jobs, crises, or significant challenges. However, it’s not necessary to change jobs to find powerful learning experiences in the workplace. In any job situation, we need to seek out or strengthen relationships with our subordinates, bosses, mentors, and peers that will contribute to our own growth.

And this is why we focus 20% of our time on learning from others by effective mentorship or coaching, on projects or task force assignments. Sharing is becoming critical in the new age, firstly because it’s always encouraging when an individual cracks a problem or improves a process and then shares it, which increases the level of innovation and effective problem solving. Imagine if the same problem is plaguing an entire team and the knowledge isn’t shared, the success is limited. Today’s workforce is increasingly transient, often moving from one job to the next every few years. If these employees don’t effectively share knowledge at work, their explicit and tacit knowledge and experience will leave the company when they do. Sharing knowledge and experience and helping others to succeed creates the trust which is essential for the organizational growth and success. Today’s technology and innovative approach makes this very simple.

Earlier, 10% of our development previously took place in class learning. Nowadays we could say it happens through coursework since there is no need for learning for the sake of learning in the dynamic times where everything changes so fast. In the past you would attend a training, but new technology is changing the way you do your business. So can we say that this was the most effective time spent? As humankind develops and makes discoveries, old processes and approaches often become redundant. New techniques replace old ones and knowledge that was once pertinent becomes irrelevant. This is why we say that we do 10% or even less learning in training sessions.

Right people make practices successful, not the other way round. This is the base of our Talent Management practices, which enables us to be successful. How do we do it? Well, we do it at least once a year with the help of the great leaders we have in our organization.

They share the information about talented employees and their potential career paths across the organization. This enables various departments to identify available talents when opportunities open up or arise. We do this in every layer of the organization which leads towards effective succession planning, making sure that the talents we have are trained and ready to assume the next positions. Succession planning benefits both the employees and the organization, it makes us foster the growth and reach our ambitious objectives.
We are transforming but some of the core processes are there, truth evolving, in order to adapt to the circumstances and expectations of our customers. We are customer-oriented at the core…

Photo: Philip Morris collection

Learning, motivation and inspiration

Gaining new knowledge and skills can be done through various means and all of us have different preferences. When talking to our employees about their opinion on what the best method is, we have found out that a learning process should be a combination of different approaches, in some points even provocative, but inspirational the whole way through. There are a few elements seen as mandatory for the successful formula in people development. Motivation is crucial and there has to be an emotional link since the best learning source is experience – both your own and other people’s. While going on the learning journey, employees would like to feel the excitement and the ‘Aha effect’. Furthermore, bad or ‘No go’ examples are also welcome in order to set a clear line. On top of that, a structure is absolutely needed to put perspective in real and broader context and enable Zoom in & out effect.

It is not about ‘ I have to’, it is rather ‘I want to!’
Coaching unlocks one’s potential. This is probably the shortest definition. However, when discussed more in depth, we come to a conclusion that coaching is seen rather as a culture than a method, present at work (but also in personal life), still with a challenge where to draw the fine line between coaching, mentoring and training. Coaching aims for development, both team and individual, it is an eye opener through shaping or building skills or leadership. Therefore, it is very important to find the right trigger and motivation. The approach has to be adjusted to different people in order to ensure common understanding and trust. As a result, employees feel enabled and motivated to use the coaching culture as a preferred approach to both individual & group development.

Coaching is the right method to transform business and keep it growing. Standard ways of people management will not work if we want to empower the organization through key behaviors such as agility, entrepreneurship and leading. The simple fact is – if somebody keeps telling you what to do, then the vision of empowered organization will never become reality.

Why gamification?
Gamification in learning is a worldwide trend which shows strong and continuous growth. This concept applies game mechanics and design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. In other words, if you succeed in accomplishing your goal, you will receive a reward.
Motivation behind gamification is based on independence, value and capability. When you are in charge, you will stick to your goals for a while. When you value your goal, see it as important and interesting, then the chance to accomplish your goal will be higher. Also, the better you get down to something and you feel competent or capable, the more likely it is you will continue doing it.

User experience
Philip Morris South East Europe was the first PMI hub to create the concept of coaching gamified training developed for iPads as an interactive digital journey, named Coachonaut. We used space as a main theme, where users move round planets which represent coaching lessons. Main gamification elements were implemented throughout the whole training and enriched with learning features: avatars, nicknames, leaderboards, collecting points with mandatory knowledge to move to the next level, practising gained knowledge in a variety of scenarios with common topics that are relevant regardless of the seniority or department where employee was currently working, save-to-notes option, extra motivation points, instant feedback after every practised scenario in order to complete the whole learning picture of a user.

Nevertheless, one of the most important things is a simple fact that this training is available to any PMI employee. It was the right answer to the question on how to introduce a Coaching culture into a large organization, such as ours. User experience when going through the training was something completely new and unexpected for our employees starting from small details all the way to seeing the coaching method as a whole. The new approach was highly valued, which put a new light on people development. Stepping into digital field was the right way and we are well aware that the bar has been set high. However, good news is that new ideas have been triggered and we are looking forward to making them real.

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