Reward Live: Former head of global HR at the BBC discusses the challenges of internal communications during a turbulent period.

RL Wed Keynote Lucy Adams BBC-8

Employees require different approaches to be taken in order for employers to build effective relationships. Language is key – that’s according to former head of global HR at the BBC, Lucy Adams as she explained the importance of how you communicate.

Adams, who was a part of the BBC during one of its most turbulent periods, spoke flawlessly about the need for collaboration and changing relationships. Discussing BBC’s move to Salford, she highlighted the structural and physical changes that came with it.

Condensing her experience in to more vivid examples, she said: “The best example for me in the BBC was television and online. Television was always disguised as elite and online as the techy. But now they have collaborated.” Using examples of the collaboration with Sky and even retailers such as Amazon Prime, she reinforced this changing environment that is becoming prominent in the world – and more so in the working world.

Commenting on the current structure that exists in a majority, she said: “Old traditional structures and frameworks are going to struggle to work. Now there is more reputational damage existing. Before it was just a moan in the pub, now they can put it on sites such as Glassdoor and other social media.”

Adams explained the arrangement that existed at the BBC and critiqued some of the forced structures that existed. Describing the BBC as one using “paternalistic approach” she said “the idea of cascade and controlled communication is [now] gone.

“The rise of millennials and increase in the number of older workers means this one size fits all approach no longer works. Employees are all different who will want different things in different ways. It takes different approaches to work across boundaries requires engagement. ”

Criticizing the way HR in many firms manage, she explained her hope to rid the annual engagement survey and incorporate more humility and personal relationships with employees. She added: “Of course you will have people who set out to be destructive. Why do we base all of our policies around the lowest common denominator?”

Continuing on, she said: “We tell stories naturally but with leaders, we strip them away. We train them to communicate the facts but not to tell the stories, quickly removing any sort of humility and making it very bureaucratic.”

Concluding her talk, Lucy Adams proposed a people management model for HRDs and gave some words of wisdom. “EACH is an approach which stages for - Employees as Adults, Consumers and Humans. I believe we can learn if we think of our employees as consumers and think of the impact that they have.”

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