Robert Dobrowsky Robert Dobrowsky

Leading Change: A Focus on Human Resources

December 1, 2012

The world of work changes continuously. Because of this reality, companies must think about their human-resources-related challenges, and lead the charge to address areas vital to your viability and success. These include:

• Performance measurement and management;

• Doing more with less; and

• Employee morale.

Performance Measurement and Management

Successful companies tend to follow best practices in performance management. Regardless of the number of employees or the age of your business, we recommend implementing at least some of the following practices. All have been shown to improve performance and increase a company’s bottom line.

Align individual goals with key business objectives. Individual employee goals should roll up to achieve departmental goals, which achieve organization-wide goals. Make high-impact goals realistic and specific. Effective goal setting describes individual behaviors and results that directly contribute to organizational success. These goals provide the roadmap employees can follow to contribute to the company’s success.

Identify and define job competencies critical for success. A competency model describes a specific combination of knowledge, skills and characteristics important for success. Competency models serve as a roadmap for keeping leaders and employees on course. Leadership competencies, for example, call out key success factors such as leading change, business acumen, developing others and agility. Use these competencies to inform and align organizational initiatives such as leadership training, hiring new staff and promoting existing staff.

Provide specific and continuous performance feedback. Performance feedback proves most effective when targeted and timely. Best-in-class organizations offer balanced performance feedback continuously throughout the year. Equip supervisors with practical and specific tools and training to increase their skills and confidence in providing feedback to employees. The biggest barrier to performance feedback: resistance by managers to give it, largely because they lack the required skills or tools.

Doing More With Less

It’s common to hear employees and organizations discuss how they must “do more with less.” As an alternative, successful organizations explore how they can “do things differently.” Here are a few best practices.

Do Your HR Practices Measure Up?

Award each “Yes” answer one point and each “No” or “I don’t know” answer zero points.

A score of:

12–15 means that your organization reflects best-in-class policies.

8–11 suggests that while your company currently uses several best practices, some fine-tuning is in order.

4–7 implies HR practices require close evaluation.

0–3 should trigger an immediate call to a human-resources consultant for help.

Performance Management
and Measurement

1. Do you conduct employee-performance studies at least annually?

2. Do employee goals link directly to organizational objectives?

3. Have managers been trained to rate and provide feedback to direct reports?

4. Do employees have specific goals for the year?

5. Do you have 90 percent or more of your employees’ performance-appraisal forms completed at the end of the performance year?

Doing More With Less

1. If the workforce has shrunk, have you modified processes accordingly?

2. Do employees have accurate job titles?

3. Do leaders have the skills and tools required to lead employees through change?

4. Do employees have the skills, training and tools to achieve their goals?

5. Do employees clearly understand their roles and responsibilities?

Employee Morale

1. Are employees actively engaged in devising solutions for key organizational challenges?

2. Do you believe that your top talent will stay with the company?

3. Do employees feel that they are taking on a fair amount of work, rather than too much or too little?

4. Would your employees say that you have the right staffing levels to get the work done?

5. Do most of your employees feel positive about their workplace?

• Review your organizational structure. Top organizations build their structures around the work that needs to get done and their business goals. Too often, departments and jobs remain unchanged and are arranged to support a time when business needs and operations were quite different. Evaluate whether or not your current structure makes sense for the business today, and 5 yr. from now.

• Create job descriptions that reflect current roles and responsibilities. Employees and supervisors need a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Clear job descriptions help individuals better-understand the work that needs to be done. Your employees’ descriptions of their jobs should align closely with the recorded job descriptions.

• Streamline and update work processes. It’s important to review the frequently used processes in your organization, and determine whether or not alternatives should be considered. Look for areas where consistency can be implemented and redundancy of work reduced. For example, consider creating company templates for frequently used reports or letters and placing them in a central location, or instituting an enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) structure to centralize information-technology applications across the business. ERP systems provide management with a comprehensive overview of the business and a to efficiently share information and resources.

Employee Morale

Lastly, gauge how your employees are feeling. Boosting morale leads to increased organizational performance and decreases the chance that your top talent will leave.

Engage your employees in dialogue. Soliciting employee input and suggestions, via surveys, can proactively engage employees in problem solving. When conducted correctly, these surveys provide a unique source of information to help managers focus on and prioritize action-plan items. Best-in-class organizations actively involve teams of employees in this process.

Strive to build high-performing teams. Their efforts are critical to the success of the organization. Facilitating targeted team-building activities can serve the dual purpose of reenergizing your teams and creating specific action items that align team and organizational goals.

Lead Change, Overcome Fear

One of the biggest barriers to change is fear—including fear of those leading the change. We find that providing leaders at all levels with tools for leading change in their organization increases self-confidence, improves morale and accelerates the successful implementation of change efforts. MF

The author thanks Christine Fleis, a consultant with Plante Moran specializing in talent and organizational development, for contributing to this article.
Industry-Related Terms: Gauge, Model, Point
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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