Some years back, shopping center owner and developer Regency Centers found itself faced with an internal dilemma. A series of mergers and newly combined management styles had left the Jacksonville, Fla.-based company without a singular cultural compass. The newly minted human resources chief knew it was imperative for Regency to create one face—both internally and externally—for the company and its employees.
Senior editor Katherine Field talked with Brian Fraser, senior VP people services for Regency, about the HR challenges he faced and the programs the company developed to build leadership, foster teamwork and improve communication.
What were the biggest challenges you faced after joining Regency in late 2000?
First, the company had recently grown through a series of mergers and, as a result, there were two or three separate cultures and distinct leadership styles within the newly combined management team.
Additionally, HR was viewed from a small-company perspective, with focus on basic administrative- and compliance-related tasks. We had to shift the HR mandate from policy administration toward talent management practices that improve competencies and entrepreneurial team behaviors that drive performance.
Our third challenge was digitizing and streamlining all HR administrative processes, so associates could concentrate energy on relationship-building that creates value, rather than processing forms and extensive meeting time about policy and costs.
About how many employees were on board at the time?
When I joined Regency in late 2000, we had 390 employees, which later grew to over 600, and we are now operating with a team of about 405 people, after adjusting for the recent economic downturn.
What programs did you introduce to meet the HR challenges you faced?
We first introduced “new leader assimilation” sessions to get local teams off on a stronger footing during a new manager’s first month leading the team. In every department that has hosted a new leader session, we have seen stronger dialogue develop much sooner.
What other programs have proved successful?
While Regency provides multiple developmental processes for our managers, coaching and the individual development plan (IDP) are the cornerstone of our managem