In this episode of Greet Verhaest’s series of conversations, she engages with Siska D’Hoore, the head of HR management at the National Bank of Belgium. The in-depth conversation discusses various topics, including Siska’s role, change management in the bank, the introduction of new values, and leadership principles.
The interview starts with a glimpse into Siska’s daily routine, indicating that she’s an early bird who loves waking up before her alarm during summer. When asked to outline her role in the National Bank, she elaborates on her various responsibilities, from talent acquisition, training and development, to HR business partners and leadership development. Siska also oversees change within the bank.
She remarks, “My mission is to make the national bank shine, to thrive, and therefore also to blow a little dust off the institution. We have gold in our hands, not only in our vault.” She reveals her ultimate goal to reposition the bank as a top-tier employer, noting that many people aren’t aware of the bank’s initiatives and the quality of employment it offers.
In discussing change, Siska explains that her role aligns with the strategic changes planned for the bank. She mentions how staff feedback from employee satisfaction surveys highlighted the need for greater understanding about the bank’s purpose, its mission, vision, and strategy. She also talks about the renewed vision, mission, and strategic objectives that resulted from the strategic review. In her words, “We take care of tomorrow. In a very short way, that conveys the message of what the bank stands for: ensuring that the economic fabric in Belgium remains stable and thus also taking care of the future of every Belgian.”
A significant part of the discussion revolves around the values of the bank. Siska underscores the importance of employees knowing the organization’s values, viewing them as a compass guiding decision-making. She shares an example, the value “independent experts”, which encapsulates the bank’s political neutrality and the significance of each person’s opinion within the organization.
Furthermore, Siska outlines the projects that were implemented in the process of setting these values. She mentions the involvement of various stakeholders, including the executive committee and a random sample of employees. She emphasizes the importance of inclusion in decision-making processes and credits the collective effort for the successful implementation of new values.
Siska also discusses the management’s role in changes and the introduction of an activity-based workspace in the future. Despite acknowledging the bank’s traditional top-down management, she is optimistic about the evolution. She says, “It is an evolution rather than a revolution. It is a journey that will take several years, but we are now ready for that. We are recruiting many new employees with external experience, who sometimes have different expectations of an employer.”
When asked about resilience and coping with constant changes, Siska mentions the varied reactions from employees. She acknowledges that some are enthusiastic and eager to play an active role, while others are skeptical or simply looking to their managers for cues. She emphasizes the importance of resilience and states, “I myself like change, that is a bit the common thread throughout my career, I do not like routine.”
Discussing leadership, Siska refers to various leadership principles and emphasizes the role of managers in creating a safe, authentic environment where everyone can voice their opinions. She reveals that a program has been established to work with senior leadership on different themes and translate the senior leadership charter into concrete competencies. She highlights the importance of co-creation and the active involvement of those who are affected by the changes.
Towards the end of the conversation, Siska speaks about assessing the success of their changes. While the bank used to conduct comprehensive employee satisfaction surveys every two years, they are now considering shorter, regular pulse surveys to measure engagement and motivation more accurately (after this podcast was recorded, NBB started using JiGSO Listen, ed.)
When it comes to Thriving, Siska does not like routine and finds it essential to guide changes. She is absolutely in her element when she collaborates and watches people grow both within and outside her team. Siska quotes a famous line from the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together”, indicating her satisfaction when her plans and efforts yield successful results.
She also admits that patience wasn’t always her strong suit, but she’s become more patient over the years. Additionally, she’s learned to be gentler with herself, realizing that not everything has to be perfect and it’s okay if things take a bit longer than expected. Siska’s approach to thriving involves embracing change, fostering collaboration, supporting growth, and practicing patience and gentleness towards herself and her expectations.
Let’s sit down and we’ll pour you a cup of consultancy advice. With a spoonful of energy, and a shot of sparkling ideas.