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How HR Professionals Make High Performance Co's
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Chrm Message From: jagadish Total Posts: 52 Join Date: 30/09/2006
Rank: Manager Post Date: 05/05/2008 09:38:30 Points: 260 Location: United States

Dear professionals,

Being an HR professional today isn't for the faint hearted. Industry leaders are questioning the viability of the profession; many organizations are asking rather pointedly “So what exactly do you do that helps us compete in the marketplace?” Yet, ironically, companies need the HR Professional's expertise more in today's marketplace than ever before.

Why? Because in today's marketplace, organizations compete not just on productivity, but on knowledge, service, and organizational responsiveness. To survive, they need to be “fast, flexible, focused, and friendly” (to use Rosabeth Moss Kantor's words) - and smart. To create this kind of company requires knowing how to create an organizational culture which brings out these attributes, a culture which brings out the best in people.

HR Has The Knowledge Today's Organizations Need

This is where the HR professional's unique knowledge base and skill set is so valuable. By helping your organization understand how to create a high performance culture, you are directly influencing the fundamental source of potential competitive advantage - its human assets. World class organizations know this. They know the saying “our people are our greatest assets” isn't a slogan to put in an annual report, but a bottom line business reality. You can't provide exceptional service, achieve innovative breakthroughs, or respond rapidly to marketplace changes with an unmotivated, overwhelmed, or burnt out workforce.

Corporate Culture - Your Secret Weapon

High Performance companies know the power of such a culture. Kathleen Hubbard, HR Manager for Cambridge Technology Partners, recently listed in Fortune magazine’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies, calls it “The Cambridge Magic.” At Wright Express, the nation's leading provider of information processing, management and financial services to vehicle fleets; it’s called The WEX Way.” These organizations, as do all high performance organizations, recognize that their culture is their “secret weapon” - the fertile soil from which excellence naturally grows.

Thus, creating a corporate culture in which people want to do well, in which people want to excel, should be on top management's short list of Key Result Areas. Helping management do this is where you come in. You can do this by helping management identify practices which are consistent with human nature and which therefore bring out the best in your people. To do this, you need to first work with them to identify what makes “people tick,” what motivates people to perform at peak levels (and it isn't money or a nice benefits package). Don't assume this is common knowledge. A recent Kepner Tregoe study showed that less than 1/3 of workers felt their supervisors knew what motivated them and over 2 of supervisors agreed.

Identify What Brings Out the Best - and Worst - In People

How can you begin the process? Ask managers to recall an organization (work or volunteer) which brought out the best in them. Have them think of times where they were bursting with enthusiasm and creative energy, times they were honored to serve others, and delighted to “go the extra mile.” What was it about this organization which brought out their best side? What was it about the organization which made them care, which made them want to go the extra mile? If they picked a work environment, what did management do, and not do, to make this such a great place?

Have them compare this with an organization which brought out the worst in them. Have them think of a workplace which brought out the rebellious, entitled teen-ager side of them; where they were suspicious, defensive, and disinterested in helping “the cause.” What was it about this workplace which brought out this side of their personality?

By creating an opportunity for management to identify what works and what doesn't - from their own experience, you are more likely to facilitate true learning about how to bring out the best in people. You are also more likely to create management “buy in” to the idea that it is worth the effort.

When I've presented this, I ask participants to estimate the difference in their personal productivity between their best and worst place they've worked. Typically, participants cite figures ranging from 25% to 80% (although one participant estimated 5000%!). This is the Productivity Gap - the productivity and profitability that Low Performance Organizations leave on the table.

In helping management begin the process of creating an environment of excellence, you can help guide the process by asking questions which address some of the key attributes of High Performance Organizations. By guiding managers through this process and helping them implement the practices common to High Performance Organizations, you will be very directly and tangibly helping your company compete in today's increasingly more demanding marketplace.

"Are We A High Performance Organization Yet?" - Questions For Your Management Team To Ask Itself

- Is our organization - who we are, what we do and how we do it - worthy of pride and passion? If we were a volunteer organization, would anyone join?
- Do employees know what is expected of them, what equals a "job well done;" and do they get feedback on how they are doing more than once a year at performance appraisals?
- Do employees understand how specifically they contribute to the bottom line, why they are important, how they create value?
- Are employees rewarded, not just for showing up, but for the value they create?
- Do employees have the power and the information to be actively involved in making a difference?
- Since all people have a wide range of maturity levels, what level of maturity do we elicit in our people through our management practices and policies? Do we treat our employees like children who can't be trusted with information and decisions or like valuable "players?"
- Do we treat our "customers" - our employees - the way we want them to treat our company's customers?
- Do we have an emotionally safe organizational climate? Do people have to waste a lot of time with CYA activities? Are people frequently "emotionally beat up," resulting in resentment, low morale, reduced productivity, and poor customer service? Is abusive behavior tolerated? Which terms fit our workforce: demoralized, fearful, resentful or upbeat, enthusiastic, and optimistic?


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