Power to the people Abigail Clayton

Abigail Clayton - June 2017

When asked at a recent conference my thoughts on the the latest trends I have seen across the HR space in the last few years, some were surprised by my response. Yes technology is ever improving, and yes people expect technical agility, flexibility and attractive solutions, however I have seen this recently becoming more and more of a hygiene factor rather than something that will set you apart.

With the exciting change, development, and recruitment projects I have worked on over my time at Getfeedback, I have found that THE biggest factors in a projects success are communication and honesty; being open and honest about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and the benefits individuals and the organisation should gain from the project you are undertaking.

When you empower individuals by giving them the information they need to make informed decisions about the things that impact them, not only do you see the benefits of greater engagement but also, increased performance, retention, and workplace wellbeing. I have seen this right across any interventions we undertake across the talent lifecycle – I’ve penned some specific examples below but can think of many more…


There has been a rise in honesty in recruitment; which is great.

Our clients want to attract the very best individuals for their vacant roles, BUT in order to select and retain engaged and motivated employees expectations need to be clear from the start.

Gamification and advanced methods of selection are all very well but it is still hugely dependent on being clear and honest about what it is you are looking for and the reality of the job role. This also has the benefit of reducing applications from individuals not suited to the role by having them self-select out of any process before they apply.

We have seen more focus from clients around the information they need to provide for candidates in order for them to make the decision to opt in or out of a role. The information helps the candidate to understand how suitable they are for the role and how successful they will be. We have seen a rise in a focus of giving individuals the information they need to select into, and just as importantly out of roles for which they may or may not be suited. Focusing on strengths and giving a realistic picture of life in the role before they go through the application process – the rise of the realistic job preview (or real job preview) helps filter out unsuitable applicants before they apply.


The realities of the job can be demonstrated in a number of ways, some examples are:

  • Detailing the nitty gritty of a role – one of which we are all too familiar with after recent events shown below for individuals wishing to apply for the London Fire Brigade.
  • Giving individuals the opportunity to undertake a self-selection questionnaire before thinking of applying as with the John Lewis Technical Graduate scheme.
  • Providing information from individuals in role as to what it is like to work there – some good examples from the Aldi graduate scheme in Australia, telling it how it is.

London Fire Brigade


London Fire Brigade

Is it really for you?

  • Are you prepared to work unsocial work patterns, which will include night shifts, weekend work, and public holidays?
  • Are you prepared, at emergency incidents, to work for several hours in difficult conditions without a break?

John Lewis

If you want to find out whether a scheme is right for you, please explore the Realistic Job Previews for each scheme or read our graduate blog.

What we look for http://jlpjobs.com/graduates/jlp-technology/

John Lewis


What it takes to be a Graduate

Our graduate jobs aren’t easy.” It’s long hours and hard work”



Engagement Surveys - Tell Us What You Think

If you give individuals the opportunity to feedback and make it easy for them to do so (both technically and timewise) response rates and honesty in responses is largely down to winning employee’s hearts and minds.

It is back to a case of honesty and engagement – individuals needs to be clear what’s happening, why it’s happening, who will have access to the results and what will happen to their data and responses. One of the biggest factors impacting response rates are if individuals believe that actions will be taken as a result of the survey. The biggest factor in honesty of responses is the belief in response anonymity. Both of these factors are hugely dependent on internal communications both within the survey and around its build up.

The links between employee engagement and organisation success is well documented.

However I would suggest that in order to get the most honest responses from any survey, the communication plan both within the survey and pre and post should be well planned and clear, to give individuals the confidence in what is happening and why. When we run surveys our technology is seamless and well tested, and our question approach well validated- but our communication plans and methodology to encourage honest timely responses are carefully considered and specific to the organisation.


We all know we need to change- but how and why?

Whether it’s an annual review, large scale leadership development programme or basic soft skills, training development is an area where communication and honesty is ever more important. Reduced budgets for face to face interventions mean that any funds spent must be well targeted, planned and communicated.

Although there are lots of different situations where honesty in communication and individual ownership can reap great benefits, 360 feedback is a cracking example of this. 360 feedback can be a great tool IF used well. You can have the best technology and reporting output (which I clearly believe we do) but the make or break with such projects is all down to individual’s knowledge and belief in the process. Development is not something that should be “done” to someone but driven by them, for their benefit and the benefit of the organisation.

Over the past few years we have seen a move away from individuals being forced to undertake a 360, or having their nominees selected “for them” and results being shared directly with managers. We have moved more towards individuals owning their own reports and the process, nominating those who they see fit and sharing the results as they see beneficial.

360s really work to drive development if individuals have honest, timely feedback from the people that they work closest with. If participants believe that the results will be used for anything other than development are they really going to nominate those people who they may get slightly less favourable feedback from? They are the people they need it from the most. Likewise if those people when nominated question the anonymity of their responses or question if the individual will actually do anything with the results they are less likely to feedback and feedback honestly.

We encourage our clients to establish a standard process for 360s within their organisation, creating clear communication plans, having 360 champions and encouraging individuals to talk about the process and engage those they are requesting feedback from. 360s should not be something that is done annually and put in a draw, but need to be understood as a live reference document encouraging openness within an organisation throughout the year and across all levels.

We advise and support both in the live launch of a 360, support communications, briefings and ownership for such projects - even better if a 360 process can be undertaken by those at the top. 360s can be a scary process for those that may not have gone through them previously but we find that with the right support and clarity over what is being done and why, the behavioural improvements that can be witnessed are amazing.


Work out where you are headed, what you need to do to get there and be honest and open with the people who work for you or you are looking to recruit. Get only the very best people who are motivated and clear on what you are looking for to apply to work for you, spend money developing the right individuals in the right way and be clear why you are doing so, ask your people what they think and do something with the results.

People are complex but are great at making decisions on the things that affect them. But this is dependent on them having the right information to do so – share this with them and see the results.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Honestly, that’s it.

Do get in touch if we can help with any of the above or you’d like to discuss further – I’d love to hear your thoughts or other examples.

Further reading