If you are in HR or are a company owner, you are familiar with the ongoing struggle to keep your employees engaged. . .it’s real! Companies spend inordinate amounts of time and money to try to achieve this lofty goal, but a recent study called “Measuring the Benefits of Employee Engagement” from MITSloan Management Review alluded in its findings that there are some key strategies where you can hone in on skills, capabilities, and processes within your organization design.
Streamline the Process
Internal processes need to be simple, well documented, and easily explainable in order for them to work. Overly complex roles and processes can create confusion, distraction, and inefficiency. Also, processes must be scalable when variables change, or when members are added to or taken away from a team. Ana White, executive vice president and chief HR operating officer of F5 Networks Inc., a technology-based company in Seattle, Washington, comments: “When you are working on org [sic] design, you need to start with the business strategy first and be super-clear on what the business needs for today and tomorrow.”
It is integral to tweak processes along the way for improvements to happen and for lessons to be learned. Processes require trial and error, and there must be takeaways regarding what works and what doesn’t. The more blips in a process, the more arduous it becomes—in fact, removing unnecessary steps or extra levels of oversight that are not critical to the overarching goal can help to make processes much more seamless and effective.
Also, Define the Process
As White advises above, using business goals and strategy as a starting point is key—the business needs, priorities, and objectives are the most important directives to consult. Once you do that, assessing resources and the internal tools you have in your organization is logical. This important step can help you foresee any obstacles that could stand in the way of achieving the objectives for the team. This way, you are not putting the cart before the horse when change or challenges inevitably arise. You also need to be aware of your audience’s needs—all the stakeholders, including your consumers—at ALL TIMES. Shelly Cerio, senior vice president of HR at Nvidia, a technology-based company based in Santa Clara, California, warns: “Too often, org restructuring happens to address people issues—not the right skills or wrong mindset. The right people will focus on the mission and collaborate to get the most important things for the company done.”
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
As is the case for most things, simplifying behooves your company on a lot of levels. Just as too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth, too many layers of hierarchy and access points can create bottlenecks in processes. It is important to pan out and use a wider lens when you look at how many employees make up a team. More is less when it comes to this; good leadership is not rated by how many people a manager managers, but by how effective the process is and how efficiently the team works. This notion is reiterated by Cerio of Nvidia when she asserts that there are few situations where “. . .a single [business unit] leader can truly own all the knowledge, skills [and] resources they need to execute toward the mission. . .A team of one can accomplish great things if all the necessary people come to their aid when asked. You need a culture of people asking for help and people willingly giving help.”
Change Will Happen
. . .and when it does, your business and your people have to be ready! While success is the ultimate goal of any business, in order for it to happen so does change. Your company must be transformative in order for it to attain its goals. If your teams and processes are set up early and securely, then the inevitable change that will happen will be absorbed seamlessly. While people are often averse to change and the disruption it can cause, it is very important to reiterate to your employees that they must be prepared and welcoming of it. The adopting of new circumstances and scenarios is what keeps the world spinning!
If you and your human resources team or overall company can handle change well, then they will have no problem adapting when other variables in the economy change, which is critical for success. In fact, how adept you are at dealing with change will rub off on your team members and result in necessary adaptations throughout your business’ lifecycle. This idea is artfully summarized by Wendy Barnes, senior vice president and chief HR officer at Palo Alto Networks in Santa Clara, California: “The key is helping your employees embrace the change from the start,” Barnes said. “Address what’s known and what isn’t, maintain open lines of communication, set expectations for when we’ll have more information and listen for the questions unasked. At end of the day, the goal is to create alignment while reducing anxiety. We want to help move people through the change curve and generate positive energy.”