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How Focused are Your Company on People?

The other day, I read an article claiming, “Home offices due to Covid 19 reduces employee productivity, therefor home offices are not here to stay”. Wow! I was thinking, does this not to a large degree depend on how you organize work, your ability to build trust and your employee’s preferences?

In traditional companies, work is organized from the top and down in the organization with a focus on control, standards and systems to drive alignment and execution. Most decisions are taken by senior managers according to processes and standards, as employees are not trusted to do this. Without any insight to the company in the article, my thinking was that these managers seem to have a high level of need of control, and if I was working for the company, how would I feel when my senior managers express such little confidence in their subordinates?

People do not leave bad jobs. They go because of bad bosses, pour management, who do not appreciate their value. How we view people affects how we manage our management processes. Do we think people want to be the best they can and contribute to creating value, or do we need to have controls to secure performance? Trust is an essential element for employees to feel valued.

Management teams focusing on structure, time management and controls, experience reduced levels of trust. They worsened communication during the pandemic, while managers were focusing on their employees’ needs and teambuilding, making unformal calls outside the formal meetings, experience the opposite – higher value creation with home offices.

In Agile organizations, it is not about managing performance, but enabling performance, where work is organized in cross-functional teams, and the teams are trusted to organize their work and take decisions in close collaboration with customers. “The power of a team that is self-managing is that you have not one person working on a problem, but you have multiple people that are combining their insight, skills, experiences and talent to achieve awesomeness”.

New HR Role

The pandemic has shown that companies need to work differently, they needed to adapt quickly to the new reality, and many companies realize they need to make an even more significant shift to become more flexible, innovative and adaptive – the agile concept is on the agenda for more and more companies.

For traditional HR departments, this means a new way to operate; moving away from a practice that supports alignment and control. Instead, the aim is to become a true value-adding partner for the organization by implementing programs, systems and strategies that foster expertise, collaboration and decision-making.

For transformations to succeed, you cannot only focus on the process; you also need to focus on the people performing the transformation process. HR know the people, they can coach, mentor and train employees and managers to develop and transform.

HR needs to listen and involve the people in the company in developing their practices, not only copy best practices from other companies but find out what practices they need to provide to give proper organizational support and truly add value to the organization. To work proactively with lean and differentiated processes per organizational needs, in front of one-process-fits-all. The processes need to be continuously improved and no more one-big-bang process introductions every 3-5 years.

Some HRBP has a good understanding of the business and insight in the industry; they understand the business challenges and the potential obstacles preventing the company from gaining the results they want.

Though, to be a real support to the business, all HR needs to understand the processes that add value for the company.

The HR function today has good people skills, and by developing even better people skills, in psychology and organizational behaviour, HR can take a new role – as Agile People Coaches. “Traditional” Agile Coaches coach cross-functional agile teams to develop further, with deep people skills HR can support the transformation and become truly value-adding partner to the company.

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