Lloyd's register – stepping up to change

Regarded as the epitome of tradition, 250-year-old Lloyd's Register is one of the City of London's most respected organisations and has an international reputation.

Regarded as the epitome of tradition, 250-year-old Lloyd’s Register is one of the City of London’s most respected organisations and has an international reputation.Ruth Holmes finds out how this long-established business is embracing change and the global opportunities provided by more networked and collaborative working through a major group move that will see its marine business relocate to a state-of-the-art Global Technology Centre in Southampton.Lloyd’s Register (LR) has made its business by always being at the heart of the maritime industry action. With its origins in 18th-century London’s coffee houses, the international quality assurance company’s City base at 71 Fenchurch Street has been both synonymous with and responsible for building and sustaining LR’s reputation for balancing tradition with foresight. In recent decades, mirroring the UK’s rebalancing from heavy industry to the knowledge economy, the company’s activities have shifted to offering a more service-based, consultative approach to its advanced engineering, technical and business services products across its main business streams of marine, energy, rail and management systems.Within this context, and reflecting the company’s values, which seek to enhance the safety of lives and property, LR Marine has embarked on the next phase of change. Its goal is to ensure that it continues to shape and respond to the challenges of the future in a sustainable way.LR Marine move business caseLR Marine is now in the final phase of a major, three-year transition to a state-of-the art, purpose-built office at the University of Southampton’s Boldrewood campus. The Global Technology Centre, co-located with the university’s School of Engineering and the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute, will form a Maritime Centre of Excellence.Before the end of 2014, around 400 marine roles will have relocated there from their current Thomas Collcutt- and latterly Richard Rogers-designed 71 Fenchurch Street base.While the move to the new Global Technology Centre (GTC), which is set to open in August this year, weighs anchor on the marine business’s 250-year link with the City of London, it is the start of an exciting journey for LR and fuels a shift to a more collaborative and consultative approach with clients and the wider marine sector. The group already has a Singapore GTC, the goal of which is to advance technical innovation in the energy industry and support economic growth in the Asia Pacific region.“The concept and strategy around co-locating with the university, creating a Global Technology Centre, and collaborating with the university is a unique opportunity for us to maintain our reputation as a global technology leader and create a global research and development network,” explains Bev Latham, LR’s People Stream team lead.“That’s the concept driving the business forward: getting us ahead of the curve, which is one of our brand values. Co-locating on the campus, investing in this fantastic new building in the engineering faculty, and working out with the university where we can share, where we can work together, and where we can find other opportunities to collaborate.”Emblematic of the new ways of working is LR’s involvement in the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI). Based on the Boldrewood campus, and collaborating with LR, it comprises a broad representative group of maritime organisations that come together on R&D projects to improve the maritime environment.“The SMMI opened in July 2012 and represents the type of collaboration which is key to the vision,” says Bev Latham. “The university is a leader in maritime engineering, and Southampton is the heart of the maritime cluster. Our competitors are there, our clients are there, and other parties with vested interests in the marine world are there. Southampton, for the marine part of the business, is the best place to be.”Moving the business – and hearts and mindsCreating a Global Technology Centre at the hub of the UK’s marine cluster is undoubtedly a compelling vision. However, the marine stream’s relatively limited experience of change, coupled with delays in the years leading up to the move’s final go-ahead in January 2011, meant that the Re:locate-award-winning People Stream team led by Bev Latham faced some initial reluctance and anxiety among the wider marine team.“Lloyd’s Register has a fantastic history and legacy,” says Bev Latham. “Part of that is that the community we are working with has limited experience of significant change. We have a population – a remarkable population – of huge long service and loyalty.“There had been talk of moving to Southampton for a number of years before it actually started to happen. So, inevitably, there was some resistance to change that we have had to influence – not helped by the fact that the move has been off and then on the agenda again. Even when foundations of the new building were complete, there was a sense of ‘it won’t happen’. Part of that is about personal denial. You’re asking people to change their lives. So, understandably, resistance and anxiety featured quite prominently during year one.”As a measure of the scale of reluctance, the figure for those in the marine business planning to relocate was 25 per cent when the idea was first floated in 2008. Three years later, and following the green light in early 2011, it was a shade higher, at 25.8 per cent.It is testament to the focus, commitment and unshakeable team spirit of Bev Latham and the 15-strong People Stream team that they have achieved a conversion rate of 60 per cent (above a base target of 50 per cent) – and with negligible policy exceptions and no tribunals.Plans into actionWhen she took up her post in May 2011, Bev Latham had not only to turn around this widespread reluctance but also to meet LR’s July 2011 deadline for launching the Southampton relocation policy – before the People Stream team was appointed and operational.The policy, to be announced at a ‘town hall’ staff meeting in the auditorium of 71 Fenchurch Street, would be critical for marine colleagues’ understanding of how their own moves might happen, and a key factor in whether or not they got on board with the process.Working with the marine HRD and marine HR programme manager, Bev Latham had just eight weeks in which to define the benefits package. “There was a lot of pressure around working out the policy and what the benefits would be, to try and encourage as many people to come with us as we possibly could,“ she says.Adopting a business partner approach to formulating policies to underpin the relocation strategy and support the wider business, she reached out to organisations and interest groups (such as the Relocation User Group) which had undertaken similar large-scale group moves, to learn from their experiences.The outcome is a new policy based on the current UK relocation policy, with enhanced benefits designed to ensure that as many marine colleagues as possible embark on the relocation journey. Importantly, it also sets the tone for role modelling the new, more collaborative and networked ways of working.Building capacityTo deliver the policy through practice, Bev Latham appointed HR operations colleagues to the People Stream team in August 2011. Shortly after, they were joined by colleagues focusing specifically on relocation, engagement, communication and resourcing.Together, as a single team with a clear vision underpinned by agreed values, behaviours, performance targets and a commitment to continuous improvement (adopting the Katzenbach model), they worked together on the complex task of supporting the 400 employees in the group move’s scope, role modelling the collaborative approach the company was seeking to embed further through the move.One of the HR operations team’s first acts was to hold a round of informal one-to-one interviews with marine colleagues. This was designed to help people in the group move’s scope understand and interpret the policy for their needs and – crucially – to provide an opportunity to discuss the benefits of the move in terms of continuing professional development.“The business case and the vision appealed more readily to people in the technical and policy directorate – the researchers, in effect – than to other groups,” says Bev Latham. “For example, people in administrative roles were saying, ‘OK, the vision is around collaboration and development networks in order to sustain the business into the future. But I’m an administrator, so how does that affect me?’“We’ve had to recognise that as a valid question, and respond to it. This has meant evolving the communications around the vision and trying to demonstrate what the move offers everyone. It’s been about encouraging people to think more broadly about the possibilities and sustaining the future of Lloyd’s Register.”A major factor in the relocation’s success is how the People Stream team has, across its relocation, engagement, resourcing and HR operations functions, incorporated and responded to feedback. Thanks to this, the team has been able to enhance practice and process design within the cycle of continuous improvement that the relocation itself was designed to deliver.Supporting a cultural shift“Culture change wraps around the relocation,” explains Bev Latham. “The relocation is the building. We are moving people, but actually it is more than that. Rather than the focus being on compliance, we want Lloyd’s Register to be seen as a group of innovative maritime advisers and consultants. Of course, we are still in the compliance business, but it’s about offering our clients broader options, solutions and innovations, as opposed to a checklist of what’s right and what’s wrong. That is the behavioural change that is required.“The move will occur whatever happens. But we won’t achieve our vision unless we make some behavioural changes at the same time. A leap of faith is required whereby people are required to behave in a different way. This starts with leaders and cascades down the organisation. The building, location and new working practices are symbolic of that.”As the impressive metrics suggest, the People Stream team’s approach is proving successful. This is down to how the team has communicated the policy, responded to queries, and built solid relationships with managers, colleagues and outsourced providers.The team’s work has been vital in building the trust and integrity that are LR’s hallmarks as it faces change and manages uncertainty while ensuring operational relevance and a forward-thinking approach.“One of the things that has amazed me throughout really comes back to the nature of this business. We are dealing with engineers, who, because of the way in which their minds work, want to unpick everything to the last detail. That is time-consuming for the whole programme. We have an innovative framework for decision-making that is robust and transparent and deals with questions at any level. It is a part of how we respond to issues and challenges.“The volume of questions that come in, with the to-ing and fro-ing required to formulate an answer, has led us to create a manager’s guide, so that every question and every decision is categorised and documented.”Working with outsourced relocation services provider Connells Relocation Services has also eased the workload. Says Bev Latham, “It’s definitely helped with the volume and with the smooth running of the process.”Powering to a successful future “I feel proud of the way we’ve responded,” Bev Latham reflects. “Our framework for dealing with questions is critically important, because it underlines the fairness of the whole process. But we’ve kept all of that up-to-date and moving as well. We’ve maintained that process and that transparency, and we have no record of appeals or grievances. Sometimes there are tough responses, and sometimes this comes back – again – to the behavioural change that is happening in the organisation.“Lloyd’s Register understands that the process of culture change which started before the relocation was given the go-ahead will continue after the move – and will be a long one. “People say that the culture of an organisation reflects its products, so this project is going to have the turning circle of a tanker!” says Bev Latham.The move is a prototype of how a long-established, successful business can embrace change and the global opportunities provided by more networked and collaborative working.By reinforcing the company’s vision and values on its journey to the Southampton GTC, the marine business’s move and the People Stream team’s activities in support of it are undoubtedly adding value to the business (saving close to £600,000 on agency fees alone by upskilling managers), to individuals’ careers, and to the relocation community.“We are role modelling what the project is about in every way. Externally and internally within the business, that is what we are trying to do,” concludes Bev Latham.In a future issue of Re:locate magazine, we’ll report on Lloyd’s Register employees’ personal and professional ‘journey’ to Southampton and the support that made a difference to their moves.

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