Interview with Jo-Anne Illman

5 min read

An interview with Jo-Anne Illman, Chief HR Officer at Infinity.

Infinity is the leading cloud-based Call Intelligence Platform, servicing Marketing leaders and their teams with conversion tracking and powerful customer data.

How would you describe the journey of the past 4 months personally and professionally?

Turbulent. From an HR perspective it has been really interesting; we are doing a lot of the same stuff but of course operating in a new world.

Initially it was learning about the quirks of furlough and getting the communications right. The learning opportunity has been a really good experience in terms of understanding what we really can do.

We identified the absolute need to measure performance and have defined processes and hand-off points. When you are trying to do things remotely you really need clear processes.

As a business, this has opened our eyes to the potential of remote working, and the need to attract and retain talent in the remote working world.

Over the summer we finally moved from input to output. It is no longer about when people are working but about what they are delivering.

"You pay someone for the output and give them the flexibility to deliver that output when they want."

As we enter this ‘next normal’, what are some of the biggest challenges you are facing as a CHRO?

Ensuring we keep the culture which can be challenging when people are at home. That said, when things do start to return we want to make sure we don’t fully flip back to the old norm.

It has been essential to keep up the comms as we work through this hybrid. If you have three people in the office and others aren’t there, how do we make sure people do not feel left out? You have to create time in your diary to make this happen - for check-ins, vulnerability of certain staff members to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them.

At Infinity we have brought about a change, internal meetings are only scheduled between 10-12 and 2-4 and no meetings take place on Wednesday (we call it get s**t done day). We float these things as ideas and then bring it in gently to get feedback on them.

We do pulse surveys regularly to make sure changes we are rolling out are working for the team. Examples include behaviours like not accepting a meeting request unless there is an agenda in the invite and no one goes into the office on a Friday.

Off the back of COVID there will be even more choice for employees and eventually the competition for talent will be much greater; it will be a lot more about work/life balance.

What type of support are your people looking for right now?

It was initially around adjusting to working from home and then it was more about mental health and practical tips on anxiety around returning to the office.

The company needs to talk about it and find out what people are anxious about.

The priorities are: Performance, People and Product

Are we delivering enough information to the team? Our culture is about just speaking out and asking the questions.

"We are looking at skills for growth. The skills we had to get us here aren’t necessarily the ones to get us to the next level"
What skills do you think are more important now than ever before?

Manager 101 training, Dealing with ambiguity, Building personal resilience, Emotional intelligence (harder to read people on video calls), leading hybrid teams. Clear goals, clear processes, make sure meetings aren't hours long.

We need to use EQ to judge how people are feeling.

We are pushing hard on metrics and want to make sure people are sharper on their KPIs. One way to do this is to make competitions to make sure people are performing when they aren't sat next to each other.

Are you experimenting with anything different to upskill your people?

I would normally prefer to do management training in person (breakouts, pairs, post-it notes and case studies) which is much more difficult to do but we have pushed this management training off until September.

The bit that is difficult is the breakouts and collaboration when doing this virtually. I need my managers to be more aware of their own behaviours and the impact it has.

If you have a certain subject, you need to cater towards different peoples learning styles (reading, videos)

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October 7, 2020