Strategy – script or scripture?

“Speak English! said the Eaglet. I don’t know the meaning of half of those long words, and what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” – Lewis Carroll

This month, I move into my 20th year of mentoring, advising and helping to develop small & medium sized organisations

It still strikes me that language can serve to confuse the fundamental business of management which is to make decisions and to take action.

“The end products of managers’ work are decisions and actions” – Peter Drucker

Of course, at a certain level those decisions and actions become more far-reaching.

As a consultant, I can provide the agenda, ideas on possible frameworks, ideas on the content, but I still remain convinced that the script needs to be written and owned by management.

The script defines the journey, provides for education & reflection and cannot afford to be misunderstood.

“The first act, it’s who are the people and what is the situation of this whole story.

The second act is the progression of that situation to a high point of conflict and great problems.

The third act is how the conflicts and problems are resolved.” – Ernest Lehman

My sense is that structure is an effective template for rewriting and strengthening the impact of the organisation’s story.

But we shouldn’t get imprisoned by it. We need to work with the characters in the senior team and with their story that ignites our passion.

You can then apply structural principles to ensure that your script will powerfully touch the widest possible audience.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela

alexgallon5@gmail.com

 

Hold on tight!

Image result for talent management

Much is offered in support of organisations and their efforts to increase employee engagement.

In my experience, I’m yet to find a universal panacea. Although there are “assessments”, “reviews”, and “surveys” purporting to be just that. These are all very well and can be useful, but it’s what you do before and after that really counts.

What seems to me to be true is that whatever the size of the organisation is, there needs to be essentially two plans:

1. An attraction plan

2. A retention plan

Whilst there is some overlap between the two, there are clearly some tangible and some non-tangible aspects of both.

At “Brand Learning”, for instance, they define an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) as: “the unique set of attributes and benefits that will motivate target candidates to join a company and current employees to stay”. What is also interesting is this can involve a combination of HR & Marketing.

What should then be considered as part of the two plans?

Attraction ………. your online presence, your efforts in terms of corporate social responsibility, your brand positioning,  career and development opportunities for your people and pay including benefits.

Retention ……….. how actual jobs fit into the organisation and add value. The communication styles and media you use. Again, under this heading, the career and development opportunities for your people. Each employee’s specific wellbeing needs. What leadership style prevails across the organisation and of course, how you recognise and reward people.

Start to make plans to manage the gaps and hold on tight!

Leadership – do you know what good looks like?

 EEImage2

 

There has always been the question, are leaders born and not made?

Early thoughts suggested that the individual is more important than the situation, so if we can identify the distinguishing characteristics of successful leaders we shall have the clues to the leadership problem. Most studies single out the following traits :

– Intelligence

– Self -assurance

– Initiative

– Big picture orientation

– Good health

– Enthusiasm

– Integrity

– Courage

– Determination

– Imagination

– Faith

Good leaders usually have some or all of these traits, however possession of them does not always make a good leader, the traits are so often ill-defined as to be difficult to relate to practice.

Further studies have suggested that employees will work harder and therefore more effectively for Managers who employ given styles of leadership. The styles usually range from authoritarian to democratic.

In the extreme authoritarian style power resides with the leader, authority for decision making, arbitration, control and reward or punishment is vested in the leader who alone exercises this authority.

In the democratic style, these powers and responsibilities are shared with the group in some way or other. It is commonly assumed that people produce more under a democratic leader than under an authoritarian one

Research suggests that style alone is not the answer to effective leadership, however a more supportive style of management will lead to a higher degree of contentment and to greater involvement with the work group.

Current thinking suggests that in any situation that confronts the leader there are 3 sets of influencing factors that he/she must take into consideration :-

1. The leader – their preferred style of operating and their personal characteristics.

2. The subordinates – their preferred style of leadership in light of the situation.

3. The situation – the job in hand, its importance, its complexity and the operating environment.

The situational approach maintains that there is no such thing as the right style of leadership, but that leadership will be most effective when the requirements of the leader, the subordinates and the situation are made to “fit together”

Finally, the leader is a role model, he/she cannot avoid the role and it is vital for us to consider what forms of behaviour, what attitudes and values we represent.

At Profile H.R.D. we have supported all sizes of organisations over many years in defining and developing, in the context of delivering their business plan, what good leadership looks like.

 

Line Managers and HR – whose job is it anyway?

GoldfishBowl

Most of us in HR would love to spend more time focusing on the strategic elements of HR but get embroiled in the day to day activities where managers have “got it wrong… again”.

But when you speak to the Line Managers, their usual comment is “HR should have sorted it out”. So whose job is it to manage the people within our companies?

The answer is, of course, a shared responsibility. But without the correct policies, procedures and training, often initiated by HR, we will continue to have to pick up the pieces when things go wrong and continue to allow abdication by line managers of their responsibility for their own people.

Overall HR’s role is to establish policies and procedures, which are agreed by the Senior Management, and then ensure Managers are trained in the fundamental elements we need them to manage.

Recruitment and Selection – if managers understand the significance of getting it right and are given the tools and training to allow them to do so, the selection of staff assists the team function and the development of the business.

Performance management – whilst HR can co-ordinate staff appraisal and systems to evaluate individual employee performance; line managers must set the standards expected, monitor on-going performance and review outcomes.

Training and development – training courses and training budgets are highly valued possessions of HR but it is only when managers understand the significance of their involvement in learning, that real value is gained. Who holds the budget and who arranges training is immaterial. HR can serve an important function in advising both of organisational needs and the best sources of meeting learning needs.

Discipline and grievance handling – once policies and procedures have been established, Managers need to understand how to implement them to ensure a consistent approach is taken throughout the organisation.

Employment law – where line managers have an appreciation of the fundamental elements of employment law, they can understand the significance of actions and so work to avoid potential legal issues. Complex arrangements still need the HR specialist but day-to-day issues are avoided by understanding the basics of legislation.

So what is left for HR – well all the things we want to do; establishing strategic approaches, advising on leading edge thinking to tackling issues and being the ‘expert’ that others look to.

So how do we get to where we would like to be? We establish sound policies and procedures then train our line managers in how to manage. We wouldn’t expect someone to pilot a plane without having had flying lessons so why expect managers to manage people without giving them the skills in HR to do just that.

Strategy – script or scripture?

“Speak English! said the Eaglet. I don’t know the meaning of half of those long words, and what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!” – Lewis Carroll

This month, I move into my 20th year of mentoring, advising and helping to develop small & medium sized organisations

It still strikes me that language can serve to confuse the fundamental business of management which is to make decisions and to take action.

“The end products of managers’ work are decisions and actions” – Peter Drucker

Of course, at a certain level those decisions and actions become more far-reaching.

As a consultant, I can provide the agenda, ideas on possible frameworks, ideas on the content, but I still remain convinced that the script needs to be written and owned by management.

The script defines the journey, provides for education & reflection and cannot afford to be misunderstood.

“The first act, it’s who are the people and what is the situation of this whole story.

The second act is the progression of that situation to a high point of conflict and great problems.

The third act is how the conflicts and problems are resolved.” – Ernest Lehman

My sense is that structure is an effective template for rewriting and strengthening the impact of the organisation’s story.

But we shouldn’t get imprisoned by it. We need to work with the characters in the senior team and with their story that ignites our passion.

You can then apply structural principles to ensure that your script will powerfully touch the widest possible audience.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela

alexgallon5@gmail.com

 

Emerging ambition

Image result for mark twain the secret to getting ahead

We recently published an article on “Future Skills Planning – A seven step process” in which we discussed why it is essential to have a people development plan that starts with the organisation’s ambition.

In that article we suggested following a structured approach by working through our recommended series of questions.

“Global Talent 2021 – a study conducted by Oxford Economics and Towers Watson”, has also identified a top twenty of emerging skill sets for the future.

The questions and the checklist may help in constructing that development plan based upon your organisation’s ambition.

International

  • Foreign language skills
  • Ability to manage diverse employees
  • Understanding international markets
  • Ability to work in multiple overseas locations
  • Understanding international markets

Digital skills

  • Digital business skills
  • Ability to work virtually
  • Understanding of corporate IT software & systems
  • Digital design skills
  • Ability to use social media

Agile thinking

  • Ability to consider and prepare for multiple scenarios
  • Dealing with complexity and ambiguity
  • Innovation
  • Managing paradoxes, balancing opposing views
  • Ability to see the big picture

Building relationship

  • Relationship building with customers, partners, governments etc.
  • Teaming (including virtual teaming)
  • Co-creativity and brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Oral and written communications

In no particular order, but a really useful checklist to get started with.

 

 

Subject to Appraisal?

ValueProposition

Our concerns about performance appraisal are not new :

– “judgemental & demotivating” (McGregor 1960)

– “falling apart at the seams” (Margerison 1976)

– a deadly disease” (Deeming 1982)

However, what is continuing to happen, as predicted, is that “performance appraisal is giving way to a more purposeful and systematic form of performance management” (Bach 2004).

Performance management must remain at the heart of HR practices and will continue to become more rounded via technology and need to be more reflective of its own diversity needs.

So, how do employers ensure that appraisal plays a significant part in their overall performance management activities?

The answer lies in maintaining a strategic approach where:

  1. There is still a systematic link between the contribution of each employee and the organisation’s success.

This should be a “bottom-up”, not “top-down” approach that ensures the organisation understands its employees, what shapes their engagement with the organisation and how their values can be harnessed for organisational success.

  1. Line managers are competent to take on their responsibilities for HR practices, thus freeing HR as a function to become more strategically focused on retaining that systematic link.

What we may need is a fit for purpose performance management process (designed specifically for the organisation as a cycle of integrated activities) as part of a bottom-up engagement strategy.