Author Archives: tenekapolite

Change management and communications consultant

A deal’s a deal: Personalising your employee value proposition

How to improve retention by matching the expectations and promises set at the recruitment stage with the actual employee value proposition.

As the cost of sourcing talent increases and filling positions with the right staff gets harder, it is increasingly important that new recruits and existing employees feel that their company’s employment promise matches reality. Disenchanted employees will leave – and before they do, they tend to give less than their best work and often their dissatisfaction spreads to their co-workers.

What is EVP?
The employee value proposition (EVP) describes the ‘deal’ the employee gets in exchange for their effort, commitment and loyalty to the organization. This encompasses financial reward and benefits, learning and development opportunities, work content, quality of leadership and social and physical work environment.

When offered a new employment contract, most candidates will decide to sign on the basis of not only pay, but will also take into consideration other elements of the employee value proposition (EVP) that are particularly important to them. Some of these may be level of role, content of work, position, culture, team, line manager and/or training.

Based on their interview(s) and exposure to the company’s corporate brand, the candidate will develop certain employment expectations about ‘the deal’. On joining, the employee will experience the reality of that deal, comparing it to the initial promise and expectations raised.

We’re reminded of the scene in the film ‘Private Benjamin’, where Goldie Hawn is on the marching field with the drill sergeant and, with wide-eyed idealism, says that there must be some mistake – she joined the army with the condo and the private rooms! The reality of long marches in the heat did not quite match the recruitment promise.

If the promise is not anchored in reality, employees will leave
If the ‘deal gap’ is perceived as too large and unbridgeable, very few individuals will bother giving the organization their discretionary effort. They will, however, focus their efforts on looking for a new job, which they believe is more likely to deliver against its declared promises.

Most companies have written EVP documentation that lays out what rewards the employee can expect to receive for their time and effort. But it is clearly not enough if these are not widely understood, consistently applied and lived day–by-day, especially by the people the new employee will come in contact with most such as their line manager, HR business partners and team members.

There’s truth in the saying ‘people do not leave companies, they leave their managers’
Often the candidate’s line manager is not present at the interview stage and therefore has no idea what the candidate’s individual expectations are when they join. This means they may focus on the EVP elements that are important to them, not necessarily those important to the candidate.

For example, while a candidate will assume that their preference for international travel, stated at the interview phase, has been passed onto their new line manager, this isn’t always the case.

Line managers should explore new employee’s expectations and EVP priorities
It is surprising that few companies ask employees what is important for them before or on joining. Most employers will get candidates to fill in psychometric, English language and mathematical ability questionnaires, but fail to ask about an employee’s personal work preferences.

Yet, not all elements of the value proposition will be equally important to all employees. For example, ‘working in a team instead of alone’ and ‘doing interesting work’ may be more valuable for some than ‘taking advantage of regular health assessments’.

Knowing what made the company attractive to join in the first place will help the line manager and HR business partner better manage the expectations of the new joiner and ensure that the employee is exposed to the elements of the employment proposition that are most important to them.

Personalizing the value proposition seems like a lot of work… or is it?
Although you do not necessarily need to change your standard EVP, it is good practice to review it regularly and ensure it is consistently delivered and closely aligned to the corporate strategy and company values.

A key action is to clarify and communicate internally the main pillars or elements of your EVP, confirming those areas that are fixed and highlighting any that offer personalization.

Pay, for example, is usually a given and does not tend to change between pre-employment and the first few months of employment. Whereas, in addition to offering flexible benefits, other individualized EVP items might include job content, working patterns, learning and development prospects, social and community involvement opportunities and other culture-related components.

Explore with the candidate what matters to them personally by using a focused and short questionnaire. The line manager can then use this information to make sure that the employee takes full advantage of the EVP elements that are most important for them. For example, if teamwork is the highest on a candidate’s list, their line manager should ensure this individual gets to work with other people on a regular basis.

Of course, these preferences may change over time, so it is a good idea to check-in what elements of the EVP are important to employees on a regular basis. Even asking the question will demonstrate your desire to make the employment deal a fair and rewarding one – with the added pay-off of being able to retain and attract talent and ultimately improve business success.

Teneka Polite
Change Management Consultant – PA Consulting Group

Original Content: Bettina Pickering, Fiona Quarrie and Janet Windeatt from PA Consulting.


Can Change Leaders Resist Change?

During large organizational transformations we often focus on managing stakeholder resistance at the staff level, recruiting mid-manager stakeholders to help drive organizational change. Sometimes, due to the leadership role that mid-level managers play, their potential resistance to change is underestimated and/or overlooked, when in fact they may unknowingly be a primary source of resistance.

 Mid-level managers often wear two hats. They are both change leaders as well as change stakeholders.   As change leaders, managers are expected to drive change, embody it through role modeling and maintain a positive work environment for their staff, while managing a full range of staff emotions and resistance. As change stakeholders, managers are enduring the change. They are impacted by changes to their organizational structure, ways of working and organizational processes. In this way, managers will also undergo the range of emotions that staff experience during organizational change.

 Managers often resist change for the five reasons listed below. The behavioral indicators of their resistance generally involve passive behavior and a failure to engage, rather than more active and observable forms of dissent.


The duality and pressure of a mid-level manager’s role may cause them to feel more resistant than staff.  Managers can only become effective change leaders when they have reflected upon and addressed their own source of resistance, but how do we help the managers manage their resistance?

Beyond the encouragement of active involvement and two-way communication, mid-level manager resistance can be effectively managed by a key support system – other managers. At the onset of an organizational change, establishing formalized change leader support meetings will provide a forum for managers to:

  • Identify and discuss areas of resistance, indifferences and/or concerns
  • Provide honest feedback about the expression of resistant behaviors
  • Openly discuss opportunities to change behaviors.
  • Act as a support system to help managers resolve their resistance and provide support through the change

 Providing mid-level managers with a safe space for open communication without judgment of emotions or behaviors will help them develop a unified front and become more effective change leaders.

 Teneka Polite

Change Management Consultant

PA Consulting Group

Building trust in leadership

Lack of trust is undoubtedly a major barrier to business success. It undermines the critical relationships that enable sustained performance and exposes the business and its leadership to painful ongoing scrutiny, cynicism and challenge. Communication plays an essential role in rebuilding trust – but corporations no longer control the flow of news and opinion. In today’s business world, organizations find it hard to keep pace with multiple media delivering multiple messages, 24/7, and an ever-increasing range and number of stakeholders who want to have their say.

 With so much ‘noise’ and communications activity, many CEOs and senior leaders can struggle to get their messages across effectively or, at times, to hear what their stakeholders – whether customers, employees, suppliers, the media or other interested parties – might be telling them.

 If senior leaders fail to establish an effective dialogue with their diverse stakeholders, they risk appearing introspective and out of touch. Worse, failing to engage with them effectively may damage their organization, its reputation and/or its finances.

 As the stakeholder landscape becomes more complex and organizational boundaries are extended. How can leaders communicate and engage with such diverse and frequently remote groups?

 There is a solution: intimacy. The word might sound strange, but if the digital world of emails, text messaging and mobile communications creates distance in our communications, intimacy in leadership brings people closer together, enabling more effective communication.

Intimate leaders have authentic conversations. They use a lower tech approach to participate and engage in dialogue, express their own views and listen to the opinions of others. They are prepared to be challenged while pursuing deeper understanding and meaning. They are accessible and connected. And for all those reasons, they are best equipped to gain trust and lead their organizations through profound change.

 Teneka Polite

Change Management Consultant

PA Consulting Group

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