Deloitte have recently published a report on: ‘2018 Global Human Capital Trends’. There’s lots of implications embedded in these insights, primarily around the impact of digital everywhere, radical transparency, leading digitally native generations, integrating moments that matter seamlessly with digital tooling, driving holistic thinking across the enterprise (vs silos of functionality), fluid feedback loops on performance linked to micro and macro learning, agile everywhere, devolved decision making and empowering organisational structure.
What stays true throughout these turbulent changes that organisations must adapt to are the intrinsic motivators of human performance.
What’s being unleashed are the seeking and problem solving capabilities of employees (if you haven’t read ‘Alive at Work’ then you should), but what’s blocking progress is the need to tightly control financial outcomes, compliance and governance, lack of trust that employees can achieve targets or exceed speed to market, innovation and product creation.
Shareholder demands for ever increasing growth and tightening regulation based on bad actors and the abuse of power that a handful of companies engaged in are also curbing enthusiasm and the pace of change.
So it begs the question: how do Amazon, Netflix, AirBnB, Alibaba, Tencent and others aim to pull this off and stay in the good books with shareholders, employees, customers and partners/vendors?
I think the answer lies in a well-orchestrated strategy that starts with hiring the best people who think laterally, solve hard problems, are empowered to create, build and shape a company’s future. Then ensuring all policies, systems, feedback and support architectures are linked to proven intrinsic motivators to create a seamless experience that motivates and accelerates radical jumps to success.
The reward is trust, honesty, risk-taking, learning through experimentation, competency gains and a true meritocracy that recognises contribution through superior performance while weeding out under performance.
If you don’t manage holistically across all these elements in parallel, you break the illusion of seamlessness and coherence. That causes dissonance amongst the intelligent people you’ve hired and breaks the perceived matrix they were attracted to initially.
Add to this that most people seek organisational competence and autonomy, as well as impact, purpose and meaning in their hard work.
These challenges and opportunities are all too familiar among the clients we work with. And we love helping them plot their own path through.
In our view HR should be creating this architecture with Operations, IT, Finance and Marketing. But this combination is often not understood as the right way forward. The benefits are seen as too far removed from a more immediate, structured and controlled environment that feeds the urgent needs of silos within the organisation to address reporting, compliance, governance and financial results.
So people revert to known ways of structuring and working ala Frederick Taylor style.
SME companies have much of this natural integration in the early days as they grow organically until they reach critical mass (usually between 100 – 200 people, also known as Dunbar’s Number). After this point they can lose the plot, trying to divide and parse the pain of disconnection by slowly siloing control and measurement activities, whilst destroying the employee experience over time. Then attrition, demotivation, production loss, disconnection and selfish survivalists become the norm.
To avoid this painful path to self destruction, organisations need to focus on building a natural virtuous circle of integrated and connected employee experience. Attempts to divide and conquer are more likely to leave an organisation in ruins.
Jeff Wellstead is a Talent & Innovation Accelerator and Future of Work Consultant for businesses in the emerging, fast-growth high-tech sector, as well as mature businesses undertaking digital transformation. With 30 years experience in the Consulting, Investment Banking and Technology sectors – working for multi-national Fortune 100 brands for 18 years in NYC, then hyper-growth technology companies for 14 years in the UK, Jeff brings a distinctly holistic, operational and highly commercial skillset that reinvents HR as an internal management consultancy – focused on preparing organisations for optimal capability in the Digital Age.
Jeff is a Partner at The Pioneers, a people management consultancy. You can contact him via e-mail [email protected] or his LinkedIn page.