Does YOUR business have the HR department it REALLY needs….“teaching dogs to tango”

Today, the reality for every business is its dependence on its leadership and managerial capabilities, NOT the processes and tools and techniques we most depend on.

After years of focus on standardization, command and control leadership and management styles, title based authority, bureaucratically rigid organizational designs and various “tools and techniques” its time to find a new management and leader “mind-ship”.

The need for urgent nimbleness, innovation, creativity and highly engaged employees has been a “given need” for some time and yet few achieved this state. An engaged workforce for many is still the “Holy Grail”

In their book “The future of Management “ Gary Hamel and Bill Green the authors challenge us to “Re-invent the Industrial organization we originally created.”It’s been a while!

“Building a company that is fit for the future has to be built to “fit its people”.

Those companies who do this will have more engaging, more innovative, more resilient more adaptable employees AND will be more human. Those are the companies that will thrive,” says Hammel.

This book makes for a fascinating read and it urges us to focus not on the tools and techniques of management e.g. TQM, Lean Process (Toyota) principles. Project management etc. Although they are all important.

Instead we need to concentrate on the “heart of the business”… our employees.

My take away is we need to do things differently and have the “courage to look at how we manage the people within our business” – take it all apart and find a different management design and then do it! Ah!

And for this we need to have the courage “to do” as well as talk a good story! There is still too much emphasis “on the what “we have to achieve!

In other words the present way we (lead) and manage is not sufficient to create the organization we imagine our business can be! So lets re design!

Adapted from excerpts from the Book ‘the future of Management “ written by Gary Hamel and Bill Green.

So how does your HR function meet this challenge? Here are some questions you should ask!

A quick note, many of these questions are inter-relational and as such need breadth and depth of thinking and discussion with many different business partners both inside and external to your business.

  1. What will your business “feel like” into the future? Remember, developing an organization will only happen when you develop those who work there! And that means having a place where employees want to work!
  2. Do your HR team and your business partners understand the current and future state objectives of your business and what is required from everyone in the organization? This includes consideration of both internal and external factors including economic, political, social, market and customer analysis. The focus here is future state, as is a full understanding of the economic drivers of your business.
  3. Have you identified where your next leadership team will come from and as importantly what the new competences are for you leaders, managers and supervisor to take you through the next 10 years? Figure this out after the first two questions.
  4. Is everyone capable of achieving these objectives and committedto their part and if not what your plan is for those who will succeed and those who will not? There is a strong emphasis of getting rid of the “internal terrorists- the disengaged who quit and stay”.
  5. Are you able to retain, motivate and attract the talent you need for your business? Given the results of all these questions.
  6. Have you eliminated all non added value HR and restrictive business working practices particularly “ingrained thinking and mental models” as well as processes in order to achieve effective and sustained shareholder value? HR needs to share accountability as to whether policies and procedures really are consistent with future state and are relevant.
  7. Have you identified current and future added value management thinking and process practices that are required for breakthrough performance and do you have plans for successful introduction. (And exit plans for those who are not on the bus!)
  8. Do your employees respond positively to the continuing changing needs of their roles within the business and does the training, education and development provided give your employees thecontinuing changing capability and competences to achieve their objectives, and development.
  9. Is the result of the above a “realized” improvement in your employees and business by producing higher profits (shareholder value)? In other words do your employees have the requisite skills, behaviors, knowledge and attitudes to make them and your business a success continually and increasingly?
  10. Do your present management and leadership style, business structure and organizational design fit? E.g. does the way that youmanage inclusion provide the business platform for the next 10 years? In other words does your present/future business style/structure and organization provide for effective inclusiveness in decision-making, increased accountabilityand communication? Where are the gaps?
  11. Does your remuneration and reward structures enable you to reward for high performance and are they flexible enough to respond quickly to competitive pressure on talent and the changing roles and levels within your organization?
  12. Is there sufficient flexibility in your benefits programs to offer employees choices, which suit your own business “Nimbleness” requirements and changing business/employee employment and social-economic circumstances?
  13. Do your employees know how well they are performing and believe that your business cares about them?Do you conduct employee satisfaction surveys to obtain their thoughts on your leadership styles, organization structure, policies, career opportunities, their ability to contribute and the best use of their talents? AND you do something about it, with their input.
  14. Do you conduct employee satisfaction surveys to obtain their thoughts on your leadership styles, organization structure, policies, career opportunities, their ability to contribute and the best use of their talents? AND you do something about it, with their input.
  15. Is your leadership really willing and prepared to delegate responsibility to those who are capable and want to accept it. In other words is your management team willing to put aside egosand adopt the principles of flexible and self-directed teams?

Ask these questions and all of the time agree with your HR team that once you have the answers, you start again and always keep in mind the employees are the business and you are there to assure their success.

As the authors say in their book. If you spent time inside large organization you will know that expecting them to be strategically nimble, restlessly innovative or highly engaging workplaces to work- or anything else than merely efficient – is like expecting dogs to tango – dogs are quadrupeds- dancing isn’t in their DNA

The gauntlet has been thrown down, the challenge set, time to dance!

Views: 154

Comment by Neha on November 2, 2010 at 10:29pm
Hi Peter,

Great blog and couldn’t agree more with the need for leadership and innovation. I personally feel that it’s the tools and stringent processes that prevent creative thinking. It’s the processes and rules that can possibly stunt innovative thinking.

Although, I have to admit, I’m a fan of process only because the trend is not gearing away from process, but to audit and protect our process. Companies specializing in business process improvements as well as the changes to regulatory processes are a growing industry. Additionally, it is very easy to get out of control where there is no accountability in which can become counter-productive to employee growth.
Although I admire companies that have the ability to successfully foster innovation with incentives to accelerate change.

In terms of HR, the division must start from somewhere. They say organizations are growing more flat, less bureaucratic which is no secret. A major driver behind this change is HR. HR Strategy is to align line managers and possibly employees to the table. HR recognizes that strategy can only be executed with the support of line managers, not only executive staff.
Comment by Peter Lanc on November 3, 2010 at 7:32am
Thanks Neha, the profession has "much to do" too too much emphasis on compliance! why oh why are we still working on the "givens" of business when we should be working on the add value! I appreciate the time you took in commenting. Peter


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