This COVID period could be the perfect timing to change for good
Millions of parents and children have been forced to start homeschooling in just a few days. Retired nurses & volunteers are re-trained into flexible medical staff to support hospitals and retirement homes. Alcohol-factories become producers of hand disinfectant. These are a few of the beautiful innovations we've seen in the previous challenging weeks.
Human beings can change if necessary. The same goes for organisations. Many are rising to the challenge, looking after their employees by offering free therapy lessons (Starbucks), extra funds for employees in financial distress (Amazon), and many organisation are run with the workforce working from home.
The Corona Crisis and Change for Good
Staying safe and healthy is priority number 1. We’re in a global experiment right now.This is a time when most people are in a (forced) change-modus anyway. This means it will be a bit easier to embrace new ways of working when life eventually goes back to the ‘post-corona’-normal. When patterns are interrupted, people are more willing to adopt certain new behaviours. Wouldn’t it be great to use this momentum to stimulate new ways of working & develop a more agile culture in your organisation?
This is the ideal moment for HR to grab the chance to remove some old, inefficient working patterns and replace them with more productive, human-centered procedures & systems. It all starts with the motivation to change. We can’t change people if they don’t want to change, but we can create an atmosphere where the ‘change’ mindset is stimulated.
Post lockdown, many businesses will be forced to up productivity in order to compensate for the loss of revenue during this period. One successful strategy is to remove inefficiencies in processes and systems. Once a system is in place, it’s difficult to put everything on hold and make adjustments. However, at this moment, a lot of those systems are already ‘on hold’. A golden opportunity to change for the better. What would happen if we switch our attention from:
+ Command & control, to support & trust?
+ A focus on controlling input to rewarding output?
+ Plan & predict to experiment & adapt?
Get Rid of Ladders- The Time is Now!
Placing a ladder over a banana peel to avoid people slipping is not the most efficient solution. Strangely, many organisations (certainly the bigger ones) have built a plethora of ladders into their structures and systems.
A ‘ladder’ in this context is an inefficient procedure or system.
HR professionals, are you ready to take the lead?
We still have our inefficient Monday morning meeting at 9 AM, but now we use Zoom, Skype or MS Teams. But keep in mind, this is an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting, and maybe replace it with a different, more efficient solution. Can you come up with a more energizing alternative?
Move from 'Managing the 3% to Leading the 97%'
Some overly engage themselves in micro-management, using all kinds of surveillance software like Time Doctor, ActivTrak and InterGuard. They want to control their employees by tracking the number of emails sent; continuous screenshots; firewall unproductive apps or websites, etc.
Let’s go from People Analytics to Analytics for the People. Using analytics is all well and good, but we need to analyse the output (results) instead of the number of emails sent, or hours that somebody spends in the office. I’m sure people would love insight in some output related data, which will motivate them to show the right behavior.
I don’t believe that the micro-analytics are directly related to productivity. But I do believe there’s a direct relationship between micro-management and the disengagement of employees. A nice example came from a surgeon working in ICU who was happy that, during this crisis, he could finally be the professional he was trained to be. He could take decisions, collaborate quickly with other doctors and nurses without filling out reams of paperwork, following exhaustive protocols, and other useless bureaucratic exercises.
Does your organisation have one of the following policies?
A policy to check expenditure management to ensure employees are spending effectively; dress codes; codes of conduct, or holiday policies? An annual performance review to check if our people reached their goals?
I'm not saying that we don't need any of those, but the majority of those policies could be replaced by regular, transparent conversations between employer and employee combined with a dose of common sense from both.
Some Alternative Routes
Another domain where we can free up a lot of resources are annual performance reviews. Maybe you might be busy planning those reviews in the upcoming months. Ask yourself if those annual routines are still the best way to evaluate your people. Or would it be beneficial to explore examples of GE, Adobe, Netflix, and many others who switched to regular, informal 360-degree reviews?
Ask three simple questions on what a person should stop, start or continue, and from there you have a trust base to build on. Again, it requires that your leaders dare to have open and honest conversations. That's where HR can support their leaders and employees. These troubled times are a golden opportunity to experiment with new ways of evaluating.
A practical tip to spot inefficient procedures quickly: