Change: it is not easy but it does not have to be complicated

April 20, 2012

As an HR and Management Consultant, I continuously work with businesses, large and small, who are adapting and changing in order to survive. Change is not easy – as organisations and their people will tell you. With thought and planning, however, it can be managed to the overall benefit of both.

Using the SCOPE model of Change, HR Dynamics and our sister consultancy, Organisation Dynamics have worked with businesses to bring about effective and lasting change.

Strategy – Do you have a clear Vision and Strategy for your Organisation?

Culture – Have you taken the impact of your Organisation’s Culture on your change into account?

Organisation – Have you assessed your Organisation’s capability for change?

Performance – Have you aligned your People’s Performance to the new Strategy?

Engagement – Are your people engaged with and bought into your new Vision and Strategy?

I will expand on each of these in forthcoming posts.

Advertisements

Why failing to focus on the organisation can lead to strategy failure

June 2, 2011

McKinsey, the international management specialists, write in their latest quarterly newsletter about the dangers of ignoring organisational growth when developing a new business strategy (the where’s and hows of growth).  The authors, Martin Dewhurst, Suzanne Heywood, and Kirk Rieckhoff, make the case that “organizational processes and structures that are well suited to today’s challenges may well buckle under the strain of new demands”. Based on the experiences of 3 businesses that faced growing pains, the article focusses on three aspects of the organisation side of the equation.

1. Is the structure appropriate for the strategy?  An organisation’s structures (and culture) evolve over time based on the existing needs of the business.  However, these same structures can stifle the possibility of growth.  Any established structure will have a built-in inertia.  Management need to understand how best to adapt, change or even work around the existing structures in order to bring about the new strategy.

ii. Are the processes ‘fit for purpose’?  Organisational processes evolve to fit the current purpose of an organisation. Start ups, for example, tend to be informal.  This allows a collegiate approach to decision-making. However, as the start up moves to the next phase, informal processes not only are no longer inappropriate but could hold back growth.  A meeting with 5 can be informal, a meeting with 25 cannot.

iii. Have your people the skillsets?  As a business grows, so does both its complexities and ambiguities.  Skillsets that were  appropriate for a simple organisation tend to be lost in a growing organisation.  If the business does not give its employees the ability to cope with the new complexities, even successful employees will flounder or even fail.

Creating a new strategy is exciting for a management team.  Creating a new organisation to implement that strategy may not be as sexy but it is equally as important; as I have written previously, culture will eat strategy for breakfast.


What Next for Employees?

July 27, 2010

The Towers Watson 2010 Global Workforce Survey provides some interesting insights that should be taken into account by all Leaders when planning for the future of their organisations.  Based on 20,00 workers in 22 countries, some of the key points in the survey include:

  • Employees see security as a fast disappearing part of the employment relationship although 76% want a secure position above all else
  • Only 38% of employees think that their leaders have a sincere interest in their well-being while less than half think that their leaders inspire and engage them
  • Almost 40% of employees are either disenchanted or fully disengaged
  • 42% of staff think they have to go elsewhere to advance

As many organisations are finding out, it is one thing to keep employees when they have no other options but, when the upturn does come around – and for some companies, it already has – these employees will start to question how they have been treated during the downturn. The best of these employees will have the earliest options to move to what they consider to be a better job.

Now is the time for Leaders to begin reengaging with employees through, for example, challenging work design, growth opportunities and, putting in place recognition programmes.


Are your employees informed?

February 1, 2010

I blogged recently about the need for managers to provide employees with a direct line of sight to the organisation’s goals. Without an understanding of what the organisation wants them to do and how this links to where the organisation is going, managers can hardly expect employees to be interested in changing.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) recently released their Winter 2010 Employee Outlook survey.  It provides interesting reading on how employees are coping given the current economic climate.  In the section on Employee Attitudes to Management, 13 out of 14 items are rated lower than previous quarters. Just under half of employees (49%) feel fully/fairly well informed about what is happening in their organisation.  That is, over half of the workforce surveyed do not have full line of sight to the organisation’s goals, strategy or change plan; without full information, these employees are less likely to be engaged in where the organisation wishes to go. This is backed up by a 28% decline in the belief that senior managers consult them about important issues.

What lessons can we learn from this?  At the same time as a low level of information, there is a drop in the level of job satisfaction (down approximately 25% over the year).  With 37% of employees stating that the would ideally like to change jobs within the next year, managers need to realise that – even in a recession – they can lose their best and brightest. The top performers will always get another job and are more likely to leave an organisation they do not trust than one that they do.


Do your employees have line of sight?

January 22, 2010

I was struck by a recent conversation with a client.  She was reacting to an employee who, in her words, just did not get it. When I asked what the employee did not get, the conversation expanded into how, despite all that was going on in the economy, some staff were still reluctant to change.  We talked about why such reluctance existed.  The manager felt that some employees had their heads in the sand and needed a reality check.

I have a different take on the situation.  On questioning the manager, it became clear that while the organisation was very direct on telling employees what needed to change, there was very little communication about why the change was necessary or even what difference it would make.  If your employees cannot see a direct link between what the organisation wants them to do and how it will drive the organisation, managers can hardly expect them to be driven to change.  Most employees will change; what they need is a valid reason.  If organisations do not give their employee a clear line of sight between what is expected of them and what the organisation is doing, then while change may take place, it will be slower and less successful than it could have been.


You need both good and bad ideas to succeed

December 22, 2009

Seth Godin is a prolific author and blogger.  His works include Permission Marketing, Purple Cow (my favourite) and The Dip – all books worth reading on marketing, ideas and creating a buzz on what you do. Seth has an interesting and challenging post on ideas.  Good ideas bring change and people fear this. Bad ideas bring risk – people fear this even more. But you cannot have good ideas without the risk of bad ideas.  If you are willing to take the risk of failure, you will open yourself (or your business) up to the possibility of success.


Culture will eat strategy for breakfast

December 18, 2009

The best graphical representation that I have come across for an organisation is that of an iceberg.  Above the surface is the visible part of the organisation – including the strategy, the organisation chart and the processes and procedures.  Below the water (the larger part of the organisation) lies the intangibles – the culture, the people, the relationships.  These elements cannot be easily written down but they have the potential to destabilise the organisation.


Culture will eat strategy for breakfast; a famous statement with a high degree of truth.  Organisations can develop the most sophisticated strategy but without an attempt to understand the implications of culture will invariably lead to the failure of that strategy. Culture is made up of the beliefs and values of the members of an organisation; it shapes the behaviours, norms and actions that govern what gets done and, more importantly, what does not get done. Leaders that fail to understand this – and fail to take it into account – are dooming their strategy from the start.