It is a Friday afternoon, the time is 16.55, only 5 minutes before John finishes his shift and he can go home. John is a ‘Picker’ in a warehouse. His organisation supplies dental equipment to dental surgeries. His ‘picking’ round is almost complete. He just has to pick one more item to complete an order. The item is a syringe. There is one left. Thank goodness. He can complete the order and get off home and get ready for his evening out. On closer examination, he sees that the package is damaged. He looks inside and to his dismay the syringe itself seems to have a small crack in the casing. What should he do? He glances at his watch, it’s 16.58. He could complete the order and hope for the best. Or he could report it to his supervisor and fill in a faulty goods report. If he does this he will be 30 minutes late for which he won’t be paid. He ponders what to do and then decides.
I imagine that similar scenarios are a daily event in most organisations. These are organisations that may well be committed to the notion of employee training and development. They have a budget put aside for it and a well-structured training program for both managers and employees at all levels.These are designed to equip their people with the knowledge and skills to be efficient and effective in carrying out their jobs.
They have linked their performance management and review process to their talent development process and it all works like clockwork. They could consider themselves ‘best practitioners’ in the area of employee development. But, they may not be.
Let’s go back to John. He weighs up the pros and cons of what he should do. He could just include the item in the order, and package the order ready for dispatch on time. It will probably be all right. After all there was only a small defect in the syringe. Or he could notify his superior, fill in a defective product report and be 30 minutes late getting home.
He has been trained to be a ‘picker’. He knows the picking process. He understands the need for speed and accuracy to meet picking targets. He is a capable employee equipped by his organisation to be both efficient and effective in his job.
So what will guide him in his decision given the organisation’s investment in him? What turns employee development into organisation success? Well the answer lies in the bigger picture surrounding an employee.
What is this bigger picture? I call it the Corporate Success Cycle. What does it look like and why is it so important in connecting employee development to corporate success?
This bigger picture, the Corporate Success Cycle, consists of an eight step process which if followed by organisations largely determines its future and ongoing success. I can summarise it as follows:
The organisation has a clear vision for its preferred future. It communicates this vision in simple, everyday language regularly to all its managers and employees. In my example John will know this corporate vision and feel a part of it.
Perhaps part of the vision reads: ‘ We trust our employees to make decisions in the best interests of our customers.’
The organisation has clear objectives, regularly communicated to all its managers and employees. Everyone knows what they need to do to contribute to the organisation’s success. In my example, John will know his performance measures, including behavioural measures.
Perhaps one of his measures is: ‘ To pick with 100% accuracy items fit for use by customers.’
The organisation has a clear strategy to deliver long-term success. All managers and employees know what the strategy is and their contribution to its success. In my example, John will know the organisation’s strategy and his part in its deployment.
Perhaps the part of the strategy relevant and clear to John is: ‘ Our customers will differentiate us from our competitors by the high quality of customer service we consistently provide.’
The organisation has the right quality and quantity of resources. These include financial, machinery, equipment, premises, IT infrastructure and of course people.
In my example, John knows how to use the resources available to him and how to recommend improvements to these. His ideas are valued and wherever possible adopted. He feels appreciated and valued.
Perhaps John has been told by his manager that any ideas he has for speeding up the picking process without loss of quality will be recognised and rewarded.
The organisation has organised itself into an internal structure that focuses on market and customer responsiveness to ensure that its structure is delivering the required vision, objectives and strategy using its resources to optimal effect. It has in place the right systems, including IT systems and automation, to provide the necessary information to ensure that the organisation is on-track in achieving its objectives.
In my example, perhaps John is employed in a structure that works well and he is provided with accurate information to keep his performance on track. He understands how to interpret this information and respond to it.
The organisation has equipped its employees with the knowledge and skills to be effective in their jobs now and in the future. Employees have the right level of competence to meet the challenges of their job.
In my example, John is not only well trained to do his current job but is aware of further automation to come and the likely knowledge and skill upgrades it is likely to require. His manager keeps him informed of developments.
The organisation has carefully appointed trained managers at all levels within the organisation to both lead and manage at their level using a style which supports the organisation’s culture and values.
In my example, John’s manager has the right mindset and skills to ensure that John is an engaged employee. Her skills include coaching for personal development. She knows what motivates John and spends time on meeting his needs so he increases his self-motivation and job satisfaction.
The organisation has a clear set of culture and values which it constantly reinforces through the behaviours of its managers at all levels. They clearly live out the values and culture and keep reinforcing them to new employees.
In my example, John respects his manager because she clearly demonstrates the Corporate Culture and Values in her job. He wants to do this himself. Perhaps one of the corporate values is ‘putting others first’.
Why then did John make the right decision for the benefit of the organisation?
The story of John was in fact was a real situation.
Because his organisation really paid attention to the eight step Corporate Success Cycle, the decision for him was a ‘no brainer’. He reported the defect.
What then ties employee development closely to an organisation’s success? I have come to the conclusion that effective employee development always needs to be put into the wider context of organisational behaviour.
Employee development activities clearly belong in step six. However, if steps one to five and steps seven and eight are not properly addressed it’s an activity in isolation with little point to it except possibly knowledgeable and skilled employees. But these are not necessarily fully engaged employees committed to making the right decisions in their jobs, decisions which ultimately will significantly impact the success of the organisation.
Fully engaged employees are fully engaged with each step of the Corporate Success Cycle and that results in them having a very high level of Psychological Contract. This causes them to give of their best, willingly, each and every day to their organisation’s growth and their own personal growth.
This makes for a truly symbiotic relationship between Employee Development and Organisation Success.And this is what all successful organisations strive for!
To find out more about Jeremy’s experience and expertise, view his LinkedIn profile.