Saturday, July 15, 2017

And another thing

In a think piece for People Management, former BBC HR boss Lucy Adams shares yet another mea culpa.

One of my biggest regrets during my stint as director of people at the BBC was the way I handled the closing of the final salary pension scheme. This was always going to be difficult. BBC employees viewed their pension as a key part of not just their employment contract but also the relationship they had with the corporation. I regret that I let myself be persuaded that being transparent about the growing deficit in the scheme without providing a solution at the same time would be disturbing for employees. We felt they wouldn’t cope well if we shared the problem without having the answers. 

But people are more resilient than we think – and they respond so much better if they are treated like adults. While transparency about the BBC pension scheme deficit at an earlier stage wouldn’t have made the solution palatable, I believe the grief that resulted from the announcement that we were closing the scheme would have been diluted if we had shared the problem earlier. It would have given our people time to discuss it, challenge it and come to terms with it. We would have been able to involve people earlier and potentially have come up with a better solution than we did. Increasing the transparency of your decision-making as leaders – the problem, the options, the concerns – helps build greater trust and understanding, and can help with uncertainty about the outcome.

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