Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Ten Challenges for Change

Challenges of Initiating
These challeng es are often sufficient to prevent growth from occurring, almost before it starts. They are consistently encountered at the early stages of significant organizational change. The capabilities to deal with them must be developed under high pressure; but in managing these challenges effectively, organizations develop capabilities much sooner than otherwise for dealing with challenges down the road.

1 Not Enough Time:"We don't have time for this stuff!"

This is the challenge of control over one's time. This challenge is represents a valuable opportunity for reframing the way that workplaces are organized, to provide flexibility and time for reflection and innovation.

2 No Help: "We're like the blind leading the blind!"

Some managers believe that asking for help is a sign of incompetence; others are unaware of the coaching and support they need. Meeting this challenge means building the capabilities for finding the right help, and for mentoring each other to develop successful innovations.

3 Not Relevant: "Why are we doing this stuff?"

A top priority for pilot groups is a clear, compelling case for learning and change. If people are not sufficiently committed to an initiative's goals, a "commitment gap" develops and they will not take part wholeheartedly. Building relevance depends on candid conversations about the reasons for change and the commitments people can make.

4 "Walking the Talk" - Leadership values

What happens when there is a mismatch between the things the boss says and his or her actual behavior? People do not expect perfection, but they recognize when leaders are not sincere or open. If executive and line leaders do not provide an atmosphere of trust and authenticity, then genuine change cannot move forward.

Challenges of Sustaining Momentum

These challenges occur sometime during the first year or two, when the group has clear goals and has discovered that new methods save more than enough time to put them into practice. Now the pilot group's real troubles begin. Sustained activity confronts boundaries - between the work of the pilot group and "internal" attitudes and beliefs, and between the pilot group's needs and the larger-scale company's values and ways of measuring success.

5 Fear and Anxiety: "This suff is ----"

The blanks represent the fact that everyone expresses their fear and anxiety with a different form of defensiveness.) How do you deal with the concerns of team members about exposure, vulnerability and inadequacy, triggered by the conflicts between increasing levels of candor and openness and low levels of trust? This is one of the most frequently faced challenges and the most difficult to overcome.

6 Assessment and Measurement: "This stuff isn't working"

How do you deal with the disconnect between the tangible (but unfamiliar) achievements of a pilot group and the organization's traditional ways of measuring success?

7 Believers and Nonbelievers:

"We have the right way!" say pilot group members. "They're acting like a cult!" say their other colleagues and peers.Riding on a wave of early success, speaking their own language, the pilot group becomes increasingly isolated from the rest of the orga nization. Outsiders, meanwhile, are put off and then turned off by the new, unfamiliar approaches and behavior. These misunderstandings easily accelerate into unnecessary, but nearly unavoidable, opposition.

Challenges of Systemwide Redesgin and Rethinking

These challenges appear as a pilot group's work gains broader credibility and confronts the established internal infrastructure and practices of the organization.

8 Governance: "They won't give up the power."

As the pilot group's capabilities and activities increase, it runs into the priorities and established processes of the rest of the organization. This leads to conflicts over power and autonomy and to a destructive, "us-versus-them" dynamic that nobody wants - and that could be avoided if the capabilities are in place for organizational redesign.

9 Diffusion: "We keep reinventig the wheel!"
Unless organizations learn to recognize and deal with their mysterious, almost unnoticed inability to transfer knowledge across organizational boundaries, people around the system will not build upon each other's successes.

10 Strategy and Purpose: "Where are we going? and "What are we here for?"
How do you revitalize and rethink the organization's intended direction for success, its' contribution to its community and its future identity? How do you improve the processes of conversation that lead people to articulate and refine their aspirations and goals for achieving them?
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Attracting and Retaining Employees

Employee retention strategies of the corporate HR world need no introduction. The need of the hour though is a well thought out retention plan from an employee's perspective. The ability to retain talent is a clear indicator for success.

Turnover - facts and myths:

Employee turnover is a serious concern for managements aiming to remain competitive in the global economy.

  • According to Human Resource Management Association, 20.4% of the employees quit organisations every year in the health care industry. Other industries report a 12-15% turnover rate.
  • A survey conducted by Kepner- Tregoe of Princeton, New Jersey on over 1290 employees, 64% states that top managements seldom initiate programmes to retain employees

Top management's attitude towards staff is a major cause for concern amongst employees. They consider that financial factors significantly motivate employee retention. Contrarily, Krepner-Tregoe's report shows that 40% of the employees feel that financial benefits are ineffective in their retention.

Talent magnets
Employees are satisfied and happy when their basic needs are fulfilled. Organisations meeting these needs are considered 'talent magnets'. Attracting employees and retaining them is critical to reap the benefits of a great workforce. Financial factors although important are not the sole retention factors. Meetings, discussions and surveys help to understand employees' needs better.
Retention Factors
Meaningful work

Employees are rejuvenated when given responsibilities relevant in ensuring an organisation's success. According to Studs Terkel, author of Working, employees "search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying." Such work gives better results than any individual financial benefits.

Talent magnets ensure that their vision and mission statements are adequately communicated to their employees. Thereby employees become aware of their role in fulfilling organisations' goals. These organisations also encourage employees to innovate and keep them abreast of customer feedback.

Medtronics dealing in medical products from Minneapolis arranges annual holiday party where employees meet patients who are completely cured after using its products. Employees thus identify their accomplishments in a social context.

Genuine appreciation for the work accomplished motivates an employee and is inexpensive and easy. Talent magnets clearly distinguish between their annual prizes or awards and day-to-day appreciation, lest its significance should be lost. In an industry experiencing rapid turnover , Meredith Burgess of Burgess Advertising, a Portland, Maine company records high employee retention rate.
Doug Levin, CEO of Fresh Samantha, the natural fruit juice company, gets information from his managers every week regarding employees who perform outstandingly and sends them 'Thank You' notes. Oakhurst Dairy, of Portland, identifies star performers and gifts them dinner coupons or movie tickets.

A learning atmosphere is vital for employees' true career progression. Acquiring new skills enables them face challenging situations successfully. This is facilitated through training programmes or by assigning new projects or higher job responsibilities. It is an investment that attracts and retains the best employees.
Organisations like Hussey Seating of South Berwick design jobs that demand employees' mental alertness. Employees are also involved in process improvement and decision making activities.


Organisations can retain their employees by valuing their efforts in keeping the business going. Employees should have the autonomy to take independent decisions on certain issues. By thus trusting their abilities, the management displays its respect for the employees.
Keane inc., well known as a great place to work in encourages employee participation in the decision making process. The mutual respect organisations and employees hold for each other is a sure sign of success.
These indicators are simple and effective. Nevertheless many organisations do not follow them because most managers

  • Are caught up in completing their work within deadlines and ignore even the simple needs of employees.
  • Though competent in technical skills lack interpersonal skills
  • Tend to believe that they know what satisfies the employees better than the employees themselves

HR managers need to guide their organisations to successfully attract and retain their employees. They should synchronise the organisation's goals and objectives with employee needs.
Attracting and retaining employees
No hard and fast rules to retain employees exist. Every organisation, its employees and their needs differ. Therefore, to understand and fulfill their needs organisations must focus on:

  • Constant interaction with employees through meetings, surveys, anonymous suggestion boxes, informal conversations, discussions and by creating an honest and open work culture that encourages employees to voice their concerns
  • Facilitating group discussions and surveys among managers and employees to identify work cultures and practices that aid high performance
  • Offering salaries that are competitive in the industry though salary is not the only single or a major motivator
  • Training managers and supervisors in interpersonal skills and people management techniques
  • Providing growth opportunities for employees and conducting performance reviews to highlight their strengths and enhance performance
  • Encouraging team -work to improve productivity and morale
    Providing multi- tasking options based on their talent. Diverse work assignments encourages innovations
  • Communicating to employees key issues that effect the organisation and employees interests
  • Facilitating learning by holding seminars, meetings and discussions on business journals/articles etc.
  • Defining with roles and responsibilities clearly
  • Recognising employees accomplishments and making them feel an integral part of the organisation

The job expectations of present day employees have undergone great changes. Earlier employees worked primarily for a rewarding compensation. Today, they look beyond financial benefits. Individual recognition, good work culture, career growth and involvement in organisational issues give them more satisfaction.

Though the problem of employee turnover cannot be overcome totally, effective retention strategies need to be adopted. An effective retention strategy is an investment and will increase an organisation's productivity.

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