Respect the DNA

Internal hires to GBS reinforce the organization’s DNA and tie to the enterprise

By Deborah Kops, Sourcing Change

Not too long ago, I was chatting with one of my Global Business Services (GBS) leader friends who was talking about filling a critical GBS vacancy with an internal, non-GBS native. We pondered whether that was a good move. And then it came to me—because the skills and capabilities required for the job trumped deep GBS knowledge, he was respecting the DNA of the company by appointing a colleague from another part of the business.

All too often, GBS organizations are seen as a graft onto the enterprise, a unit standing apart, for a range of reasons. Sponsors don’t spend the effort to support the concept that GBS is of the business, not on top of it. Stakeholders position GBS as a scapegoat, not part of workflow. And because leaders often lean toward GBS tribal hiring—often from their former gigs—the concept of GBS as a separate team is amplified. While lack of sponsorship and positioning can be eliminated over time with change management and education, the last—hiring from the outside—is totally in the remit of GBS leadership. Big miss, folks, exclusively hiring GBS natives into the leadership from the outside and not respecting the DNA. Every leader doesn’t have to be able to recite GBS concepts book and verse to deliver tangible value to the enterprise. In the right environment, and often in the right roles, internal hires can not only deliver exemplary performance, but they can also elevate GBS acceptance, value, and sustainability.

Why is respecting the DNA so critical?

Getting down to the heart of the matter, GBS can’t afford to disregard internal talent, both politically or financially. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Endorses GBS as part the fabric of the enterprise, not separate and apart. When the GBS team is comprised by outsiders, it can send a message that suggests that those in the business are not capable of transforming or operating, and that institutional knowledge has no value.
  • Lends credibility. If internal high performers think GBS stints are worthwhile, GBS’s credibility can advance several notches.
  •  Messages that a GBS stint is a critical part of corporate career progression. GBS then becomes a vital component of the enterprise’s career path.
  • Creates a network of endorsers. When a leader has had a rotation through GBS and they become champions, commonly held myths and beliefs can be debunked.
  • Accelerates the productivity curve. Internal hires have established networks. They know where the skeletons are buried and can advise the new kids on the block.
  • Expands the talent pipeline. At times, talent pickings in the market are slim. Looking internally can expand the pool exponentially.
  • Grounds external hires. “Savior syndrome” is real when an exclusively external team runs the show. A blended organizational DNA keeps the GBS team honest.
  •  Helps GBS create measured change. Internal hires understand how hard to push, and when to back off.
  •  Improves sustainability. It may be easy for management to deconstruct a GBS that is primarily comprised of employees that the enterprise considers “outsiders.” It’s another thing entirely to release respected, long-tenured staff.

How does a GBS leader put “respect” into action? Whether starting a GBS from scratch, rebooting the model, or managing a mature organization, the strategy remains the same:

  • Maintain an open mind.  Failure of a GBS organization to perform is more often than not down to poor leadership; the root cause of subpar performance is due the quality of the entire team. Take the time to evaluate existing talent and figure out what capabilities GBS needs to thrive.
  • Hire talent for sustainability, not roles. When we evaluate talent, we tend to think about the opening at hand. However, when we also put talent through the lens of GBS goals and the capabilities required to achieve them, the criteria may very well change.
  • Create job descriptions that align within the enterprise. GBS capabilities are not separate and apart from those that currently fuel operations. Take the time to review functional and operational roles in order to better align them.
  • Work with HR to map rolesdon’t go rogue. It’s vital to use the same job families, hierarchies, and language.We think GBS is special, but it’s not. The skills and capabilities that fuel performance in other parts of the enterprise are often over 90% similar in GBS; only the model and the language is different for many roles.
  • Go shopping. Ask other leaders for recommendations. As you interact with others in the enterprise, take their measure. Can they add value based upon what they do today? Can they move the goalposts because they have capabilities that will challenge GBS thinking or future-proof the organization? Are they a good fit, and will they add stability and sustainability?
  • Set up a formal GBS rotation. Too few GBS organizations take advantage of tours of duty. They are a great way to test and try internal talent.

Formalize a “GBS for the uninitiated” program. GBS isn’t rocket science, nor is it mysterious. Supporting internal hires by giving them a bit of education will set them up for success.

Last, you are probably asking whether there’s a cheat sheet to determine which roles are best filled internally, and which require outside expertise. Here’s a simple way to think about it:  the most innovative, evolved and sustainable GBS organizations blend their DNA—some roles from the outside, some in. So, the next time you have an open role, don’t run out to hire your tribe. Take the time to think about respecting the DNA of the enterprise you support. You’ll be glad you did.