How HR helped transform this major airline

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HRM: The company’s HR team was recently named ‘HR Team of the Year’ at the Australian HR Awards, so clearly others are noticing this turnaround, and HR’s role in it. How critical has HR been in this transformation?

TH: We’ve been fortunate to participate in change at all levels of the transformation plan and were given quite a broad scope to do things differently.

We’ve invested a considerable amount of energy in partnering with the business to support the overall change design and planning as well as supporting the critical culture change we were looking for.

We supported leveraging what has been a wonderful tradition and commitment to the organisation with a new energy and commitment to becoming a more efficient and dynamic Qantas through engagement initiatives, a focus on communicating honestly with our people, and continuing to support important development initiatives for our leaders and teams.

HRM: Changing structure and process is one thing, but changing mindsets and culture is another. How has Qantas handled this?

TH: I can call out many critical initiatives that have supported our culture change, but one that really stands out would be a program we have consistently supported over the last couple of years call ‘The Next Step’.
For us this program is about connecting to our strategy, a deeper understanding of where our business is at and, most importantly, a reconnection to why we joined Qantas in the first place, and bringing the passion so many of us have for Qantas to the fore.

It has also supported the incredible customer-centricity throughout our organisation and allowed us to remember why we are here.

At the end of the day, planes don’t connect people from one destination to another; it’s our people connecting Australians to destinations all over the world.

HRM: What role has staff training and L&D played in this transformation?

TH: We have a very clear and well-understood change management approach at Qantas, and at the very heart of that approach is a commitment to understanding the impact of change on people and how we can develop people to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

In the commercial teams, we are re-examining how we develop people and ensuring that all development is supported by a strong learning culture, clear capability and performance frameworks at all levels.

We are investing in developing our leaders as coaches and supporting far more constructive adult learning opportunities.

We are finding formal training is being asked for less often than ever, as people increasingly value on-the-job development, coaching and feedback from their leaders.

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