The synergy of company leadership and HR - Business Works
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The synergy of company leadership and HR

by Laura Hare, Head of HR, Jagex Ltd In order to help develop strong company leadership from within the HR department, it's important to understand what the business stands for says Laura Hare, Head of HR at Jagex Ltd. Understanding or defining this cannot be achieved by HR alone and has to be done in absolute partnership with the leaders of the business. It is then possible to define what leadership means to the organisation and what the business needs from its leaders in order to deliver its strategy. I believe HRs role is pivotal in working with business leaders to help them achieve their goals, through their people and that leading people isnt separate from delivering a project.

Company leadership and recruitment

Questions should be asked about the journey made by the company that has led to making it what it is, but also the direction the leadership wants to take the business in. To answer the second part of that question, HR can help by asking why an individual would want to work for them. For instance, is it because the company develops or uses innovative technology? Is it because the business has great IP? In these ongoing difficult economic times, is it because the organisation is paternal towards staff and offers a stable environment? From there it's about taking all of those answers, understanding what the company stands for, and ensuring all of organisational policies, processes and behaviours are all in line with that.

This can of course begin at the recruitment process stage, with managers and the recruitment team in fact, anybody or any interface that will interact with potential candidates delivering the correct messages and behaviours that are congruent with the company profile. To help with this, a few years ago we personified the company because we wanted people to understand what our personality was as an organisation. Everything from our careers site showing real people to hosting events where individuals could meet our employees; it was a really successful exercise for us. Also, during company inductions at Jagex, we show lots of videos and game footage; we talk about the talent; we talk about having a work hard / play hard culture. You have to constantly review how you deliver the messages about who you are to ensure they are relevant and still communicate what you want to say to your likely changing audience.

it's about an individuals ability to work as part of a team

Our search for talent is often more about IQ than it is experience. We do not assume that because someone has so many years under their belt or has shipped certain titles that they will be automatically successful. We all want to work with smart, talented people, so it is really important to our culture that we pick the right people through our recruitment process. This is why it is also important to remember that it is not just about skills and abilities, it's about an individuals ability to work as part of a team.

Personal development

At Jagex, we have in place quarterly reviews called 'Performance and Development Reviews'. Their purpose is to ensure conversations take place between managers and employees, not only about their performance and what they're delivering, but also about how can we help them become better at what they do; to help them recognise and realise their aspirations. Our motivation is to make sure people are in the right roles and that they're using the skills they're passionate about. It is about making sure they are playing to strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses and trying to fix them.

This ensures individuals have the opportunity to work on the projects - swapping and changing their roles almost - to make sure we play to their strengths. This can be a difficult exercise to do, as there are always pressures on the business. However, by focusing on top talent it can be a key way for a company to look at personal development and training while ensuring its effectiveness.

It also works as a good retention tool. Your top people are the individuals you absolutely want to retain out of anybody. So focus on those individuals and look at quality over quantity, rather than number of training hours delivered to staff, or pounds spent per head on training. In the games industry in particular, it's about giving individuals the time in the day to tinker and play with new technologies and have creative time. The RuneScape development team at Jagex gives employees time each week to do creative and technical exploration. For me, that's what personal development and training is truly about; its what our staff value the most and what we get the most from.

CEO and HR: A symbiotic relationship for business success

Where HR works well is when you get that partnership between CEO and HR, and it becomes a confidante role. Where HR doesn't work well is when they never really talk and the department is only seen as the team that gets the admin done and the timesheets completed. HR professionals absolutely need to have the skills to partner with senior leaders, understand the world from their perspective and talk their language, and present information in a way they understand in terms of data and metrics. What senior leaders need to understand is that because HR is dealing with people not everything can be quantifiable and that assumptions have to be made. Business leaders have to be courageous and take risks with their people as well as the organisation and projects.

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