Creating and giving passion on a large scale is about making people “want to” rather than “have to” and you do that by making sure your team feels heard
Interview with Robin Windley, Senior VP, Human Capital – DP World
Robin Windley is the Senior VP, Human Capital – DP World, he Heads HR for almost 40,000 people, has over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources, Holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Human Resources and is Graduate Member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. So when it comes to HR there is no better person to talk to than Robin!
He starts by sharing that on such a large scale the only way to create and keep passion going on in the organization is to is by making people “want to” rather than “have to”, and to do so you need to regularly measure your team’s level of engagement and more importantly its about what you do with that information.
Then its about continuous communication with the team, it’s a dialogue. When we talk to such a large team we make sure each one of them feels heard, then every individual will be very engaged simply because they see what’s in it for them and they feel appreciated.
So go ahead and click here if you want to find out how to create passion in your team no mater how large your organization is; and don’t forget to share it around and spread the passion.
Passionpreneur & Chief Energy Officer
Award Winning Author
AKA The Passion Guy
Moustafa: Hello everyone and welcome back to a new episode of passion for work – for a human back and human capital. Our guest today heads the HR for a company that has almost 40,000 people across the world and they are one of the large participators in Dubai’s economy. Robin Windley is the Senior Vice President of Human Capital for DP World.
Robin, thank you for being with us today.
Moustafa: The pleasure is shared. Eh the obvious first question that I wanna ask you is, how important is passion in the workplace especially when it comes to such a large scale organization?
Robin: Yeah, very good question. Um… the philosophy that we have as an employer is, we don’t move people to come to work because they feel they have to. Clearly for a number of people that something that motivates them because at the end of it they need the salary. But what we want to do is we want to generate a lot of enthusiasm in them. To make them feel like they actually want to, they don’t have to, they want to come to work. And we always say that when anybody gets to the point where they ceased to feel that has the case, that’s the time to move on. Now what we do as an employer has a significant impact on whether these guys or ladies feel “You know what, I wanna be working for this company or I don’t.” So that’s when we have to ensure that we continuously evaluating and making sure that our people are an engaged workforce.
Moustafa: I love that. And when you, when you say that it sounds easier said than done, because scale hill here place will be broad. I mean it’s easy to motivate 10-20 people, hundred people, maybe a few thousands but when you’re reaching a workforce of close to 10,000 just in the UAE alone, and then you got to triple and quadruple that around the world, how do you actually make that measurable without losing the, the energy because it’s easy to keep it organic, it’s easy for it to be mechanic, but to make passion on that scale?
Robin: Yeah, it’s a very very good point. One of the very important factors as far as we’re concerned is, we run an engagement survey. It’s a bi-annual survey. We first took it to running in 2008. It’s when you consider the timing was I think particularly relevant. Now that is run across all of our employees in our business. The thing with the engagement survey is very much about what you do with the information rather than just the fact that you can say you know what, we run the survey. So…The thing that we focused on from the very beginning was, okay, we’re running a survey, what will we gonna do with the data? So as soon as that data starts to come in, what we are doing is we are analyzing it, and we’re creating focus groups. We speak into the business, to our employees, to say, “Well, this is the feedback that you gave us then what do you really need?” Then of course it’s up to us to say “Okay, we take that information from you and this is what we gonna do about it as a consequence.” Now that’s the processing itself. But of course, what we also need to do is to make sure that we are continuously communicating with them through act, so that they actually feel as if they’re part of it. So in other words, when I talk to thirty eight, thirty seven thousand people, each one of them feels I am actually talking to them, personally, and not to a collection? Then the likelihood is, they would feel what I’m doing, is for them, and not just for anybody. That’s what makes it personal, and that’s what makes it motivating.
Moustafa: I like that. Well you rather have a very interesting point. They actually start the survey pretty much the time about when things were starting, I don’t know, when technicals dive all the way down. Ah, down in DP Robin you got an interesting experience, because the year’s passion was high the early of 2008…
Robin: Pretty much it goes about around September, October 2008.
Moustafa: 2008, things started going crazy. How you were able to keep the passion for those who remain ‘cause you also have to let go of a lot of people?
Robin: Yeah, I, I mean, I qualify that it’s, it’s you make a very tough point, when we took out and to let go a lot of people. I think in comparison to what you saw in a lot of businesses, particularly in this part of the world, actually, we did extremely well. And even those people that we did let go, we tried to relocate, so whether it’s possible we created opportunities, only sole staff opportunities so we actually minimize the impact. But the reality was this because I was here, the general consensus would have been that time, you know what, this is really a difficult period. Everyone felt it, whether it’s materially or whether it’s just a fact that it was, it’s going on around them and everybody felt it. So in order to make people feel “You know what, don’t just focus on the short term, but think about how things were previously, and believe in what they can be again.” And if you continuously talk about that positive message, you continuously live by. What was positive was the fact that, we were there with a view to understanding what we’re needed to do for a long term. We were not a short term and never will be a short term employer…
Robin: So as, there will always be corrections in our business. People will focus on the long term if they continuously position the fact that, you know what, we’re a business that’s here for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. We are not a business associate for 3 or 4.
Moustafa: Umm I see…And, and how would you now in the current situation you know, you’ve gone up, you’ve gone down, and people obviously have renewed faith because it seem the whole long term perspective. It’s easier to see on the top, but near, near further down, we can’t see this easy. So how is it for you to keep the, uh, passion and engagement in the workplace throughout the year not only when it’s time for us…
Moustafa: To talk and for us to take a survey and for us to have a nightly celebration or a Christmas celebration but our day in, day out.
Robin: Yeah, and that is really an interesting point! And ah I think, you know, I look at it two ways. One is, that, I’m not trying to prepare people for the engagement service so I can recruit myself. Because frankly, anybody at any level of intelligence would see straight to. This is more about, as I said before, letting from the opinions of our employees and where other possible trying to do something that they feel isn’t for. Then put that to one side, the other dimension is, what we are offering our employees as an employer, and because our philosophy always has been, you know, we wanna be seen as an employer of choice. We want people to feel, “You know what, I want to go work for DP World because I feel that they offer me something different.” And that’s not all about salary, that’s not about…monetary benefits, it’s about, “Why does this company attract people and retain them?” The fact is we are extremely low nutritional range as an employer. One of the reasons is because people feel that this company, it looks after me. Now that’s easy to say but what does it mean in reality? Well, it means that we try to ensure that whatever we do, we do with the view to the best interest of the employee.
Moustafa: I see, so it’s, it’s obviously you’re carrying this whole long term perspective and ongoing, no, just from, from ups and downs, you just keeping it steady, rather than “Okay, we’re employer of choice, because we are the coolest, the hippest, we’re the Google rival, okay you just seem to be matching the industry, very solid, very steady…
Robin: And that’s really interesting because one of the things we recognize is, as a, an employer, people don’t look at our industry immediately thinking “What possibly the industry that I can get into.” Because ummm…in many, many ways, it’s a transpa…it’s a, it’s a hidden industry. People see and, and they buy products every day. But they don’t really know where they come from, right? I mean, as far as they’re concern, they buy from the shop, it comes from the shop. Yeah, but how did this get in into the shop? That’s the piece that we have to play in this whole logistics chain. But then on getting people to understand that, and they feel passionate about it, and they see things we do, it’s reality! People will not gonna look at us in terms of what we have to offer, in terms of the dynamism of our industry certainly compared to Google. So we have to focus on other things, we have to give people a feeling that “You know why, this is a great company I wanna work for and by the way, it’s got a future!” Because that’s also very important! And I think that’s where we have an advantage because as I said and you right it point to them, you know there are, there are ups and downs generally in life, but if we are, if we can be seen as, as a certain level of stability for everybody and I think that’s a good thing also.
Moustafa: Positive. Ah I guess this is no better way for us to conclude this interview which has been uh, eye-opening as you said it’s one of those industries that you don’t see there, but it’s the back end of the engine behind it that has a lot of stuff. Thank you very much for this great interview and I’m sure our viewers enjoyed it.
Robin: You’re welcome and nice to see you. Thank you!
Moustafa and Robin: Passion!
Moustafa: I hope you really enjoyed this episode and found it very useful and enlightening as much as I did. If you like what you see, comment below and share it with your friends. And if you’d like more exclusive interviews, tools, tips, and techniques then go to Moustafa.com. Until the next episode, live passionately!