How can Shared Service Leaders prepare their teams for the coming decade?

As explored in the first instalment of this year’s content series, the definition of ‘excellence’ in shared services has undergone a significant transformation over the past 20 years. In 2020, excellence is defined not only by an organisation’s ability to cut costs and increase efficiency. Today, excellence requires an ability to provide an outstanding experience for the business’ internal customers by equipping its employees with an optimal environment and skillset to do so. Here Shared Services and Outsourcing Week speaker Nadia Hutchinson, Global HR Operations Director at Kantar provides her advice as to how shared service leaders can ensure their employees can keep up with the demands of the coming decade.

Build Change Management Capability

“Teams will always need to have technical skills, but we’re now part of a world where change is inevitable and change is fast,” says Nadia. Many shared service organisations are investing heavily in training and development for their employees in the aim of equipping them with the skills necessary to address the demands of evolving businesses. For Nadia the other key feature that leader’s must develop is “the ability to influence and support colleagues who may not be able to keep up with the change”. This means identifying and addressing employee’s individual inhibitors to adopting new ways of working and creating an approach to changemanagement that takes this into consideration.

Nurture Negotiation Skills

Next on the list for Nadia is negotiation skills. She finds that oftentimes the business will make a request to a shared service organisation and that request may not be feasible or may not be high priority amongst a lot of other requests that have been received. “I find that a lot of shared services teams don’t effectively push back and negotiate with that pushback,” says Nadia. This is a skill that leaders must develop and learn how to do within their career. 

Develop Disciplinary Understandings

“Typically, you will find a reward specialist is a reward specialist,” says Nadia. She is referring to the fact that often employees in shared service organisations are experts in their specific field but lack knowledge of how things work outside of that. Similarly, those within the business often lack clarity on the intricacies of the shared service organisation itself. “To be effective with the technologies and the foundations that we now have available to us, individuals need to have a broad understanding of a wider number of disciplines”. The solution, says Nadia, is job rotation. “This is important to give the practitioners an appreciation of the issues, challenges, and sometimes even just the bare legislative facts that shared services teams have to deal with”. 

Pursue Automation with Intention

Automation is a common staple in the operations of many shared service organisations, but Nadia warns, “We have to keep our eye on the prize for automation and what that delivers”. She explains, “If an organisation goes down the automation route, clearly it will need practitioners who are automation specialists”. This means that organisations should invest in developing new roles, automation teams and practices within shared services. However, as is often repeated, there must be caution taken to avoid automating for automation’s sake. Before any investment in adopting new teams and technology are taken, thorough research and testing should prove that they are the right fit for the organisation’s current state of operations.


The final piece, that Nadia believes people often don’t talk about, is payroll. “There is a team of people in every organisation who manage making sure that the reason why we come to work actually happens – getting paid, and they make sure we get paid.” There is a lot happening in the payroll space from a technology, legislative and data perspective. “It’s really about empowering those teams to come out from the corner and talk about innovation within payroll. There are a lot of new payroll providers in the marketplace who are absolutely brilliant, but I don’t think organisations and certainly decision-makers – so, CFOs, CIOs, CHROs – have any awareness of what is going on in this space. They understand issues when they come to the surface. So, if there’s a highlighted risk, they get to understand those issues. Often they don’t understand the requirements of developing a good practice payroll area and the requirements of a roadmap for this within their business.”

Learn more about how you can prepare your shared services organisation and its employees at the 20th annual edition of Shared Services and Outsourcing Week. There, Nadia will lead a deep-dive masterclass on the topics of leadership and development. Here she will share how you can create a culture of business innovators and not only a culture of continuous improvement, but a company culture that thrives from service excellence.