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HR should break down silos but retain values

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While restructuring a company it's important HR ensures values remain close to their original ethos

HR should work to break down the silos that can form in older firms, according to Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, director of human resources for investment management company Charles Stanley.

Incorporated and listed in 1896, Charles Stanley is the 15th oldest firm in London but the past year has brought many challenges for the brand, resulting in cost-cutting measures. In 2014 the company suffered two profit warnings ending on a £6 million full year loss, and further cuts are anticipated as the firm works towards becoming a holistic wealth manager over the next three to five years. In 2015 the firm sold off Charles Stanley Securities to Panmure Gordon.

However, the company announced a £3 million profit for its core business in its November 2015 half yearly results. This represents an increase of 200% on earlier reports.

“This used to be a ‘job-for-life’ type of place where everyone could feel very safe and secure,” said Griffiths-Lambeth, speaking to HR magazine.

“A lot of people did not understand why change would be necessary, as we were altering the way processes had always been done. In the past the HR team were very ‘old school’. They were only really important when you started at the firm.

“But now there have been a lot of changes. For example, we had to look at why we were still conducting performance appraisals when they are nothing to do with our business model. We’re working on bringing different teams together, losing that silo effect. Essentially we’re looking to implement an Ulrich-style business model.”

Senior HR manager David Day added that it’s still important for the firm to hold on to its values and culture. “It’s sometimes said that you can’t repaint an aeroplane while flying it, but for us it feels a bit like trying to redesign a 1930s aircraft into a jet while flying it,” he told HR magazine.

“There’s been a lot of rapid change, but this company has always been a decent, fair and honest place to work and we should be careful not to lose that.”

“In the end we need pride and passion to do right by our clients,” added Griffiths-Lambeth. “We’re not dealing with mega millionaires. Our customers tend to be head teachers, doctors, dentists – the kind of people we consider pillars of society. It’s nice to know you’re helping make their lives better.”