As you probably know, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about organising people. That’s great because in fact I am studying Human Resource Management (again) and the content without the reflection is just data. And there’s much more than data to learning. (Remember my old post Ackoff’s spectrum of learning?)
There’s so much philosophy on purpose. Ok, let’s change the word from purpose to strategy. Which is the strategy of your (my) company? The obvious answer is…
Let’s stop for a moment. I need your attention here. I’m going to ask again in bold:
*What’s the strategy of YOUR company?*
Do you really know? Think again.
Don’t cheat. It’s not a valid answer to say that the board does know. That’s not enough. For any strategy to be effective it must permeate the whole of the company. Not just to be in the board’s minds. No way.
Usually the use of the word strategy makes us defensive. True, this is nothing that affects us. Or maybe it does affect us but it’s nothing that we have a say on.
Wrong answer for an effective organisation. If the strategy is not only top-down but bottom-up, we should have a say. In fact I really think we should.
Let’s swap words again. Let’s talk about purpose. Purpose is not a scary word but, at the same time, has a lot in common with strategy. And ask yourself another question.
*What is the purpose of your job, of your post?*
That is easier to answer, but not quite. Is that really what you are doing? Don’t you think that’s the first thing that you should be clarifying with your boss? Along with a complementary question: what’s the purpose of her/his job? How do both purposes match?
This kind of questions should be asked periodically. Let’s not fall into the management trap. Let’s not end up being increasingly efficient with something that, at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be doing.
Let’s ask again.
*Are you being held accountable for the things you should be doing in your post or simply by the things you’re doing, for a few of them or, even worse, for things you are not doing and neither related to?*
Or in a more positive (and extrinsic) fashion:
*Are you being rewarded coherently with the purpose of your post?*
Why is that question important? Well, first there must be a clear purpose to our job, although probably one that will change quite often, but then all the metrics should match. And when I’m talking about metrics I’m not only thinking of “hard” financial metrics, but also the soft, and often much more important ones, from customer satisfaction to employee turnover rates, and the cause of these rates.
But these reflections wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t close the circle.
*Do this purpose match the strategy of the company? Is the accountability matching that purpose and strategy?*
Because if we could answer this question, we would be effectively knowing, and working for and along the strategy of the company. The strategy wouldn’t be tongue-in-cheek or lip service. It would be a common tool, a shared vision, something that would help the whole company move in phase and amplify its efforts. It would be part of a glue that would tie the parts tighter to the whole.