Questions are often asked about the value of HR to an organisation and the level of influence that the HR function has on overall business direction and decision-making.
More recently, with the disclosures of corporate malpractice and unethical executive conduct in the finance industry in particular, there are significant questions about the culture of the organisations concerned and, by extension, as the culture custodians, where were HR in all of this.
The truth is that HR can look very different in different organisations and is more often than not reflective in style of the mindset of senior management. Is the focus compliance or is it about real employee engagement? Is it about risk management and enforcement or is it about leadership and values-based behaviour? Or is it just a processing function administering operational procedures and conflict transactions?
Where does HR sit on the scale of maturity in your organisation?
Back in 2005,we developed a maturity model based on our experience in dealing with hundreds of organisations and this 4C model is a core part of our consulting and coaching offerings. While in our consulting, we focus on “People and Culture”, you can apply the methodology to any business function.
Here is what it looks like:
C1 = Commitment: this is the ground floor, the point at which an organisation makes a specific commitment through a vision statement or a values statement or a set of goals in a business plan or a policy statement or a contract which sets out an obligation that the business commits to.
C2 = Capability: this involves the organisation investing in the resources needed to give life to the commitment including the right people, processes, tools and equipment.
C3 = Competency: here the organisation has invested in the learning and support that people need to effectively play their part in utilising the resources and they are delivering good outcomes in the area of the commitment.
C4 = Culture: where the commitment has been fully embedded in everyday activity in practice, people believe it and they are consistently delivering high performance outcomes.
A lot of the organisations that we have worked with in our compliance activities are at C1 to C2 level and a significant number are quite limited in the breadth or range of commitments that they have made in real terms. Managing people is an ongoing challenge for these businesses.
Then there are the others who aspire to be employers of choice and really get the connection between employee engagement and wellbeing and high performance. With the right leadership, a positive mindset and values driven behaviours, those aspirations can be realised. Our 4C framework provides a simple and effective roadmap for getting there.
If you look at the people and culture practices in your organisation, where do you sit on the 4C scale?
Why is it that, whenever you conduct an employee survey or business diagnostic, communication comes up as one of the key areas for improvement?
In part, it is because we are human and we each deliver and receive and interpret information in our own individual way.
In part, it can be because, as business owners and managers, we are technically competent in what our businesses do but we are not necessarily trained or skilled in communication techniques.
In part, it is also because, in any business, the timely and accurate flow of the right information to the right people is critical for getting work done efficiently and optimising job satisfaction for the people involved.
In part, it can be because we don’t think through the actions that we are taking or changes that we are implementing by consciously considering who is affected and needs to be communicated with.
And, in part, it can be because in the everyday hurly burly of running a business, we can forget to communicate or have trouble listening to others who have something to say that is significant for them.
So what can you do to improve communications in your business?
- Project positivity from the top.
- Be honest and transparent
- Be clear about the purpose
- Set good practice standards in policies (not just consequences for breaches)
- Ensure that all of your managers/leaders believe the message and “sing from the same hymn book”
- Be timely
- Be responsive
- Celebrate successes
- Define the audience on 3 levels
Tailor your message to people to take account of:
- Whole of business communications (what everyone needs to know)
- What particular teams might need to know about the impact for them and
- What individuals need to know about the impact for them
Consider other stakeholders as well eg customers, suppliers, contractors, etc and what you need to tell them if they are (potentially) affected in some way
- Build it into project management
- Identify stakeholders in each project up front
- Identify key points and messages to be given in the project
- Build these communications into the project plan
- Make sure it happens
- Review the effectiveness of communications as part of the review process on project completion.
- Learn from that and continuously improve
- Validate understanding
This is about ensuring that the people concerned “get the message” and know what it means for them. It is really just a question of asking them what it means for them, ensuring they understand and observing what is happening in practice
- Give your people genuine voice
This is probably the improvement opportunity that comes up most often in employee surveys and there are lots of options such as:
- Set up a staff consultative committee or representative workplace improvement team
- Do regular employee surveys to get people’s views and spot check progress
- Have a publicly committed to improvement plan for people and culture
- Ensure that you have trusted and effective grievance and suggestions processes in place
- Give people regular and balanced feedback about how they are going
- Make sure you have the capability
Continuously work on your communication processes and skills as a core business competency that impacts critically on all aspects of running a business.
If you don’t have the strengths internally, look externally to get help in communications design, positive policy writing and coaching for people in your business who play key roles in communications.
The spin offs are higher efficiency, happier people and a more profitable business.
Ridgeline HR offers a variety of coaching, consulting and contracting services to assist businesses with consultation and communication requirements and enquiries can be directed to Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or email email@example.com.