How do we engage the workforce? I constantly hear about increasing percentages of disengaged and just plain bored employees who see their job as merely a pay cheque. Clearly top-down management strategies and inflexible hierarchal structures just do not work. If they did, we would be reading about engaged, motivated and fulfilled employees who ‘talk-up’ their organisations – but do we? History has illustrated that leaders have traditionally assumed roles of absolute authority. This is no longer practical and we must develop strategies to fully engage the workforce, after all, with ever increasing compliance and regulatory legislation coming into force the once perceived great leader who could do what they wanted to get their organisation to the top is now becoming a distant memory. It is the amalgamated worth of the people that will make the difference to the future organisation; this asset must be captured and utilised to its fullest potential.
Leaders must work hard to understand the values and opinions of their employees and position themselves amongst and not above them; this will negate the notion that they adopt any form of top-down management strategy.
They must also demonstrate the qualities of emotional intelligence, integrity and empathy and be effective at making things happen for other people.
It is critical that leadership ensures mission statements, values, goals, strategic direction and objectives are mutually agreed. There must be a shared vision and mutual trust between management and employees. Organisations must also signify to their employees ‘what success looks like’ and instil open communication systems that will build trust, clarity and true value with an agreed set of organisational benchmarks.
Benchmarks should be made up of both tangibles (such as the achievement of sales and profit targets; what I like to call natural outcomes) and the most important intangibles of trust, responsibility and innovation.
Employees must be made to feel part of the solution and not part of the problem, leaders must encourage autonomy and enable discretion, within an agreed set of benchmarks over how someone manages their job tasks as this will convey a feeling of control and enable employees to speak their mind on any organisational issue.
To enable my vision to be conceptualised organisations must implement an innovative program which I named The Revolving Organisational Council. To further enable workforce potential to be extracted I also advise job rotation and the implementation of a company passport model.
The programs will work as follows:
- The Revolving Organisational Council (T.R.O.C.)
- Organisations should have an extremely flat structure this will be made up of a Chief Executive Officer and a Senior Executive team that oversees day to day tasks within their departments and implements the direction and objectives as set by council.
- All other positions are based on the attainment of training standards with pay rates matched to qualifications.
- The organisation will have five tier levels of accountability each with pay rates to match. In essence the aim is not about job availability but up-skilling via training thus creating a win-win scenario for both employee and organisation.
- The CEO is the facilitator of the revolving council and will be the only constant member. Senior Executives are not permitted onto council as their primary role will be to deliver the objectives as set by council. They will also provide a monthly report to council on the implementation of the objectives and the impact that they have on organisational performance.
- The council is made up of a single member from each organisational department with each member being voted onto council by their work colleagues.
- Voting is held annually and no member - with the exception of the CEO - is permitted to remain on council for a further term, but can be voted back on to council after two years has elapsed.
- Organisational benchmarks ratios are distributed to employees monthly and will include all performance related results both tangible and intangible.
- The council meets monthly and discusses benchmarks with its main objective of protecting strengths and offering solutions to overcome weaknesses. Weaknesses must be discussed amongst departmental colleagues prior to the council meeting; this will have the added benefit of total employee participation. Departmental meetings are chaired by each council member and held monthly with a strong emphasis on the discussion of benchmark ratios and general business issues.
- The council is responsible for governance of the preset mission statements and organisational values. It will also determine and implement the annual objectives which will include financial budget plans and set intangibles. Further council responsibilities will include the setting of pay rates, creating, implementing and managing of all policies, procedures and processes.
- Democracy is essential to the process with all decisions unless legal compliance necessitates, going to the vote of the council. Each council member has one vote, the CEO as the facilitator has no voting rights, can veto, but must present his reasons to council. All minutes including financial statements from council meetings are distributed to all employees who have a right of reply via council.
2. Job Rotation and Company Passport
- The CEO and Senior Executives will be the only constant organisational positions. The organisation will not have any other employee in a single role for longer than 18 months. The development and attendance at training programs that will up-skill employees will be compulsory. Attainment of a qualification will be stamped into the employee company passport, the main focus of which will be attaining the required qualifications to undertake your next role or advance to a higher organisational tier.
- Minimisation of top-down management style and inflexible hierarchal structures.
- The added value of implementing the revolving council is that employees who presume ownership of the organisation display increased buy-in characteristics and will thus achieve higher levels of performance.
- Unleash human potential as the main driving force of the organisation.
- Collaborative strategies will help the organisation reduce complexities, redefine roles, and distribute financial, physical and human resources more efficiently.
- Organisational benchmarks will be used as an added benefit to enable employee diversity to be used as a catalyst for new ideas in the delivery of its systems and processes.
- Job rotation will enrich employee learning and increase human capital accumulation; it also gives exposure to a variety of experiences that will ultimately contribute to their professional development, reduce boredom and keep them interested in their jobs.
- Meet with organisational leaders and discuss the leadership personality characteristics that are essential to deliver the vision.
- Present The Revolving Organisational Council concept to employees and instigate discussion.
- Vote for Council members.
- Develop Departmental meetings.
- First council meeting to discuss, vision, direction, objectives and all key criteria to facilitate council delivery as per its mandate.
- To all my fellow MBA students at Massey University NZ.
- Dr Bernie Frey who challanged me to write the hack.
- Bernard Teahan - my CEO who constantly challanges me to think outside the organisational norm.