Colleague spotlight: meet Anna Kellett, Business Development Manager

Lizzie Buxton

Written By AdviserPlus

2nd January 2020

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Anna talks to a lot of HR leaders about their issues and aspirations. Here, she explains why the challenges are often the same – but the solutions need a tailored approach.

Throughout my time at AdviserPlus – ten years this January – I’ve enjoyed roles where I listen to customers and help them solve their challenges.

One of my favourite parts of this job is where I follow up with people who have enquired about our services or have engaged with our content online. I’m not really selling anything; it’s more finding out about their issues and challenges, getting feedback, and seeing if AdviserPlus can offer some support.

Common HR challenges still need tailored solutions

There are some several common challenges that HR leaders tell me they face.

Often, they’re worried that because they don’t have technology to track their ER cases, they don’t have visibility of case volumes, what the outcomes are, and whether they’re being managed effectively.

This also means that they don’t have any management information (MI). If someone asks the HR director how many absence cases have resulted in a warning, for example, it’s not easy to get hold of that data – it’s surprisingly common to hear from organisations that still manage employee relations data on spreadsheets.

Another common one is HR teams are still having to take the lead on employee relations issues, and hand-hold managers. A lot of companies want to walk towards a culture where line managers have the confidence and capability to handle low-level ER issues – so the HR team are free to handle strategic objectives like absence and business performance – but they don’t know how to do it.

Others have a short-term project to deliver, where they don’t have the capacity within the HR team.

Discovering what’s right for each organisation

For example, Lucy at the Gym Group came to us because they needed a short-term pool of HR resource, to onboard hundreds of new trainers. We talked about what she needed and worked together to build a model to deliver the project on time, without impacting the HR team’s day to day work.

It’s all about making sure we’re providing the right solution, based on our knowledge and experience of doing this for so many other clients.

Sometimes a customer might ask for one solution, and we have to say: “Actually, I don’t know if that’s going to benefit you – maybe there’s a better way to deliver that.”

An HR director who wants to give line managers confidence and capability in ER might ask about workshops. We could deliver that, absolutely no problem. But we can also say: “Had you thought about a knowledge portal that gives managers 24/7 access to advice and guidance, so they can self-serve without having to contact HR?”

Feeling excitement from HR leaders

That’s the bit that I enjoy most about this job – when we can get under the skin of a company’s challenges and objectives and tell them about solutions they weren’t aware of. It’s like I can open their minds to what’s possible. It’s such a good feeling, seeing people realise they can achieve what they want.

And not just from a business perspective, but a personal one too. Maybe they’ve got an absence problem, and we can help them reduce it – so there’s a direct cost saving attached to that. But obviously that also means a reduction in HR caseload, so it drives efficiencies in their own time. You can really feel the excitement when they see there’s an answer to their problem.

Building a trusting relationship

When we understand what a company’s main challenge is, we can have confidence that AdviserPlus can deliver for them. It’s obviously important that the customer trusts us, but it goes both ways – we also want to make sure it’s a good fit.

So after those initial conversations, we’ll typically go onsite with the customer to meet everybody, run a workshop session, and really get under the skin of their needs. That way we can tailor our solution to the business, the culture, and the way they work.

By the time we send a proposal, we can already be confident that we’re ready to meet every aspect of their requirements.

Then, once the client is up and running, we pass the baton to a client relationship manager – like my colleague Ami Harrison.

A good place to grow

In my career before AdviserPlus, I had the opportunity to develop into management, but I didn’t feel that the culture and the way they worked was right for me. But as soon as I joined AdviserPlus, I knew this was a place that I could really develop and grow my skills.

I became a team leader, and then a people manager, and I absolutely loved it. But really, I’m passionate about our clients – understanding their needs and helping them achieve their objectives, so I pursued client management roles where I could do that.

When this sales operations role came up, it sounded great – but I had absolutely no sales experience. As it happens, though, my experience getting to know clients and solving their problems was a perfect match.

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