Cisco HR chief: secrets of a shared services pioneer

A Cisco executive shares the secrets to developing flexible HR alongside technological innovation.

When Danielle Weese began her role as Cisco’s head of HR, she never intended to stay in the position long-term.  The constant progression inherent to the tech industry changed her mind, though.
“I don’t know if it’s the IT industry, to because it’s a multinational, or the sheer size of Cisco, but my job is changing all the time.  Who you are supporting and what you’re doing is constantly evolving,” Weese said.
While innovation keeps her job exciting, it has also required Cisco to adapt business practices to align with rapidly developing technology.  Fourteen years ago, the company developed a shared services model which was based on sales, services, finance, and marketing. 
Centers of Excellence in ER, staffing, talent development, employee experience, and mobility all partner with HR leaders who ensure “they’re driving end-to-end solutions through the business.”
This model also has flexibility built into it.  An example is the “zero to four” structure developed for employee queries.  This consists of the following:
  • Zero tier: employees can consult “ESIQ,” a search engine similar to Google with Cisco-specific answers.  There’s also a “click to chat” feature if results aren’t immediately found
  • “Follow the sun:” employees can dial a shared services representative at any time.  The rep will either answer the question or locate a subject matter expert who is more knowledgeable about the particular issue
  • If necessary, a shared services professional who is more geographically or topically appropriate will contact the employee and answer the question.
Under this arrangement, HR managers do not need to have encyclopedic knowledge on policies and procedures, but can provide direction to those best suited to answer particular questions.
“We’re using the technology to change how we’re supporting,” said Weese. “In this model a lot of employee issues can go directly to shared services instead of client-facing HR managers.”

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