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

 

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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!

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

 

The OD Consultant – what does good look like?

ChangeNews

The National Occupational Standards for Management and Business Consultancy have been developed by researching international best practice in consultancy.

The Standards are divided into 4 sections:

  1. Develop and manage relationships
  2. Work with the client to identify their needs and agree solutions
  3. Support the client in achieving sustainable solutions
  4. Maintain professional standing.

These are not necessarily intended to form a chronological sequence, however what is clear is that “effective consultants transfer knowledge and skills and build their clients’ capacity and competence at the same time as providing support to implement solutions”.

I’m reminded of the “Practitioner values” (J. Stewart 1991) needed in managing change in order “to achieve external adaptation and internal integration” …………………

– NEUTRALITY

– PROBLEM-ORIENTED

– NON-PRESCRIPTIVE

For me these are “core” characteristics, or indeed competencies?

These are no better exampled than in an extract from the “Barefoot Guide” (www.barefootguide.org)

“I spent a winter with them, watching how they talked, the way the director would turn when asked a question; the subtle order of tea and coffee.

They asked: ‘When will we start changing?’ They said: ‘Nice work if you can get it. What is it you actually do?’

I smiled and shared their jokes; I asked them what they thought they were, animal, plant, mineral, machine.

At first, they were hesitant and recited the company line and spoke eloquently of vision, mission, goals. No heart.

But one day over lunch a quiet secretary whispered that they were an orchestra only some of the instruments had been neglected and most were out of tune.

I went along to a rehearsal and sure enough there were broken strings, a battered flute, a drum whose skin was torn. And still I listened.

A board member waylaid me in the stalls. ‘We are a ship,’ he said, ‘more or less sound, but battered by the storm.’ I looked out of the window and truly the horizon was askew.

The woman who headed HR reminded me of the calibre of the crew But the woman who made the tea said ‘ No-one speaks to me.’

I was the loom on which they wove the cloth of their past, their present and at last their future. I was the canvas on which they drew the cartoon strip of their progress.

I’d brought a bag of tools but, to be frank I never opened it. They had their own, unusual, but well-adapted for use by musicians on a stormy sea.

While they patched holes and mended strings, I was their temporary harbour.

For a while I was popular and enjoyed a certain notoriety but slowly they became absorbed in their own music, plotted their own course. They were so busy listening to each other, they forgot me.

I left them sailing up the Amazon playing a Strauss waltz conducted by the woman who made the tea”.

For a copy of the Management Consultancy Competence overview used in my Masters Diploma accreditation, e-mail 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.