The Future of Work - Part 4 of 5

Performance
added by Craig Steel
Two employees on the workshop floor with hi vis vests

The problem with conventional practices

Based on our research, we believe most organisations want to do the right thing by their people. Equally, every employee wants to be relevant and ultimately valued. However, because the practices companies use were designed for a former era, they undermine the relationship they could otherwise enjoy with their people.

This is because they are focused on the ‘management of people as a resource’ rather than their contribution or ‘success’ as a person.

Because they are perceived by staff as ‘management’ tools, it reminds them the business doesn’t trust them which negates their enthusiasm and aspiration to grow. This resulting discontent stifles both innovation and collaboration hence organisations aren’t performing to their potential despite their aspirations or effort.

In addition to this, organisations still don’t use performance-focused Operating Models meaning their leaders are forced to try and figure things out for themselves leading to the formation of fiefdoms and unhealthy interdepartmental competition.

 

Why is this?

If an organisation doesn’t have an agreed way of doing things, individuals are forced to come up with their own methods. Because this impedes productivity (as it creates differences that can’t be leveraged), leaders look to ‘established’ practices to try and improve their people’s performance which is why they presume a significant part of their job is to ‘supervise’ their subordinates.

Because supervision wrecks engagement, organisations try to fix it by either lifting their managers ‘coaching’ and ‘communication’ skills (hence we’ve seen the monumental rise in ‘leadership’ training) or by relegating the performance and cultural responsibility to a department.

This not only results in a plethora of policies to gain compliance, but it also counteracts their efforts to improve their ‘culture’ hence both executives and front-line staff remain disillusioned.

By this I mean the vast majority of Chief Executives we’ve spoken to over the past decade can’t understand why their business isn’t humming when they’ve actioned the recommendations of their HR department – and nor do staff think what they’re doing is right, but they know they don’t have a voice to object.

However, what most HR Directors are failing to understand is that driving performance and culture is the role of the CE not them; namely, because they tend to want to own it rather than act as the custodian of the practices the organisation institutes to improve it.

If the role of workplace performance and culture is pulled away from the CE (and their leadership team), it makes a mockery of the function as it positions it as an ‘add-on’ given people see it sitting ‘outside’ the CE’s decree.

This results in people paying lip service to the process as they see managers’ doing things because they have to rather than focusing on their capability and contribution to the business.

Further to this, the rise in staff ‘engagement’ measures companies have adopted to try and understand it has inadvertently trivialised the process as it appears to staff to be a metric that organisations are chasing to demonstrate their appeal rather than a reality they want to get right.

The role HR (or Performance and Capability) should play in this respect is to act as the custodians of the tools the business deploys to optimise it thereby ensuring everyone in the business experiences the benefits.

Most worryingly though, is the fact organisations are failing to recognise the stress their people are experiencing is a direct result of these practices rather than a consequence of increasing workloads due to the modern and competitive world we now work in; hence they assume the way to fix it is to either improve their managers ‘effectiveness’ or offer ‘resilience’ training to help their staff cope with the demand.

 

Summary

Based on our experience assisting many of Australasia’s best businesses, it is clear to us that our people are not the problem. Instead, it is the defunct practices organisations are continuing to use to manage them.

However, because these processes have never been questioned, nor a viable alternative presented, companies assume they just have to muscle their way through it despite the turmoil they are causing; hence the case for Vantaset™.

 

 

This article is part of our white paper 'The Future of Work: a performance-focused insight.' To request a copy, please email us at [email protected]

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