Profiles International - Victoria    eNewsletter    May 2009 

Reorganise, Redeploy, Ready for Comeback

Leaders taking stock of their organisations are breathing sighs of relief: Retrenchments and other cost-saving manoeuvres are in place to ease the bottom line, only the most efficient workers remain on the payroll, and the current employees are more than capable of getting the job done.

Whoa! While you may think that reducing your workforce is the most difficult part of the job, your work is not yet finished. Now you have to ensure that the company's most important work continues to be done.

Leaders mistakenly believe that the employees who remain after retrenchments will work harder because they are grateful that they still have a job. This is not necessarily so. In fact, many will feel bitter and overwhelmed because their workload has increased. At the same time, they struggle with the fear that they might be the next to lose their jobs. Uncertain times call for even stronger leadership.

Just as decision makers cannot afford to think that nothing else will change once the workforce is reduced, they must also ensure that remaining workers understand that change is inevitable. You must decide how to redeploy workers to other duties and how to upgrade their training even when the development budget is gone. You need a plan that ensures the company will keep going amidst the downturn. This task is easier if you understand your workers' strengths, weaknesses and interests.

Asking the following questions can lead you to the right answers as you retrain your employees to use their full potential in this new landscape.

1. Is the structure of our organisation aligned with our business goals and strategies?Remember, every task requires someone to perform it. Employees can and should multi-task, but expectations must be realistic. Make sure that you’re not piling all the weight on the shoulders of one or two employees. Ask yourself which duties are daily necessities and which can go undone for a day, a week, or longer.  Some tasks may not be completed until the economy improves. Create a written plan that outlines the necessary duties and who will be responsible for them.

2. Are our departmental goals consistent with our business goals?
Is one part of our company doing business the same old way while the world changes around it? Are we still ordering the most expensive supplies in one department while another department makes do? Are we using the most efficient ordering process? Are our customer service representatives working at the most logical times of the day? Communication can be uneven in both large and small organisations, but all departments must grasp the message that we are not doing business as usual. Changing only some parts of a business is like changing only half the spark plugs in your car.

3. Are our job goals consistent with our departmental goals?
Once a department has realigned itself with the goals of the business, we must examine individual job descriptions to make sure employees are performing essential tasks instead of those that can be done later—or not at all. Remember, change is the byword. This may require retraining and frequent reminders to employees who have always done things a certain way.

4. Do we have redundant accountabilities?
Are two employees, perhaps in different departments or working on different shifts, doing the same job? Examine what each employee is doing and find a new purpose for those employees whose tasks are redundant.

5. Do we have accountability gaps?
Job descriptions must cover all tasks essential to getting the work done. Example: Joe Smith picked up the company mail every morning. When Joe took an early retirement, no one was assigned to this simple but necessary function because it was not in a job description. The most important functions must be written into job descriptions so that when employees leave, important tasks still are done.

6. Do we know how much each employee is utilised?
Measuring utilisation ensures that employees are completing the tasks that lead to the organisation's success instead of focusing on the non-essential functions. Organisations lose money when workers neglect the "have-to-dos" because they are not making good use of their time.

7. Do we know what makes people successful in their jobs?
We might think we know our employees, but assessments give us objective measurements that detail employee motivation. If you have the wrong person in a job, you will see the results in her productivity, which ultimately affects the bottom line. Don't rely on your gut to give you the right answers about what your employees require to stay interested, engaged and productive.

8. Do we know our people’s interests, talents and capabilities?
Many organisations fall into the trap of seeing potential as a panacea, assuming that someone who is excellent at one job will do well in almost any role. This is not so. Instead of guessing that Joe Smith can manage a sales team because he is an excellent salesperson, measure his skills and interests objectively.

9. Do we provide effective opportunities for growth?
Even if your leadership development budget is limited, you can keep your future leaders engaged by helping them learn and grow in their roles through special assignments, mentoring and other opportunities. Online learning classes are an effective, less expensive way to train those who have growth potential. Remember to protect your investment in your top performers; even in an economic downturn, you need to plan for the future by attracting, engaging and retaining talent. Think long-term.

10. Do we tolerate disengaged employees and negative attitudes?
Poor performers and those with poor attitudes stand out more when workforces are reduced. Actively disengaged workers can cost your company per year. Remember that a bad apple can spoil the whole batch. Can you afford even one?

All organisations are facing this difficult downturn of unknown length. Our goal is to emerge with strength, poised for the comeback. Ensuring that everyone is doing the right job, and that the most important jobs are done, will help us meet that goal. 
  

FROM JIM SIRBASKU’S DESK 

STRATEGIES FOR WINNING: "Buried Treasure"
 
Who Knows What’s Hidden Right Under Your Nose?
We see that many businesses have designed their selection processes where they almost always hire good people, but they place some of these people in positions for which they are ill suited. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “He looked good in uniform, but he couldn’t play.” That’s a way of saying that an employee appeared to have all the attributes for success in a particular job, but didn’t perform up to expectations.

Everyone has hired and promoted people who turned out to be disappointments. The number of times we have heard about top salespeople who became lousy sales managers is painful. That mistake occurs because neither the company nor the employee has a clear understanding of what it takes to become an outstanding sales manager. Oh, sure, the company has a job description in a file somewhere that the sales manager could dust off and read if he or she wanted to, but traditional job descriptions are inadequate today.

We all subscribe to the idea that our people are among our greatest assets, recognising that outstanding organisations tend to have superior people policies and, on the face of it, superior people. Accordingly, many of us spend a huge amount of time chasing the rainbow, convinced that we will find a pot full of those perfect people at the end of it.   Instead, we should be focusing on identifying the potential of those who already make up our teams.

And therein lies the secret of those organisations with a people-based competitive advantage—it’s not just that they identify and recruit great people (although that does help), but that they work with the people they have to make them great, to find their unique attributes that can be developed and employed effectively within the organisation, and to build the sort of serious competitive advantage that only good people can confer.

Find the pattern in this series of numbers: 8, 11, 15, 5, 14, 1, 7, 6, 10, 13, 3, 12, 2. If you’re stumped, you’ll find the answer at the bottom of this chapter. Once you’ve looked at it, read on.

So what? Well, the simple point is that looking at the familiar in an entirely different way can sometimes produce results that we scarcely expect. Your people are like that—you assume that because you’ve worked with them for awhile, you know what they are and what they’re capable of. That’s true, but only to a point. Uncovering genuine hidden potential requires a shift in the way you evaluate your people.

Take the following actions to get started.

1. Uncover Your Team’s Career Goals, Aspirations, Likes/Dislikes, and Strengths/Weaknesses
You can ’t begin this process without knowing a lot about each member of your team. Start by talking with them regularly. Find out what they like to do. Research published in a 1999 Harvard Business Review showed that people excel at jobs that interest them more than they excel at jobs that seem to be a good fit for their education, skills or experience. Find out what your people enjoy doing, their career plans, and their business and life aspirations. Don’t limit yourself to informal chats. Use more formal means like the Profiles Checkpoint 360o Feedback System, and psychometric assessments like the ProfileXT, to determine the particular strengths of your key assets. The authors of the HBR research cited above put it perfectly: “…the best way to keep your stars is to know them better than they know themselves – and then use that information to customise the career of their dreams.”

2. Make Better Use of Strengths
When you feel like you have a good grasp of each team member’s strengths, start looking for new ways to use them. Brainstorm ways to apply these strengths in new and imaginative ways that enhance the roles of each of your people and that address problems that you haven’t previously been able to address. In one successful example we recently observed in the IT industry, a talented project manager was put into the role of sales manager, not because she knew an awful lot about sales or had a gleaming sales record—quite the contrary—but because she was particularly good at organising campaigns, marshalling resources, motivating her team to action, and seeing initiatives through to the end. Take off the blinkers when it comes to applying strengths in new ways.

3. Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
In the movie Enemy of the State, Gene Hackman tells Will Smith, “…in guerrilla warfare you gotta turn your strengths into weaknesses…if they’re big and you’re small, then you’re fast and they’re slow…you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.” You must do the same with your people. Look at those characteristics that you currently perceive as shortcomings, and then look at situations where those attributes might be utilised to your advantage. After all, most weaknesses are just overused strengths.

For example, a customer service representative who’s just too assertive to “put up or shut up” with angry customers may actually make a very successful salesperson, capable of overcoming objections not easily overcome by others. Consider the marketing executive who comes up with killer campaigns but just can’t seem to follow them through to the end. Focus that person solely on developing the creative campaigns and assign project management and completion to someone better suited. Look at every shortcoming you currently perceive in your team members, determine where a weakness might become a strength, and figure out how you can capitalize upon it. You’ll be amazed at the results.

4. Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
In a recent study, 25 percent of employees said that one of their main reasons for changing jobs was lack of feedback from management about their performance. Make it a formal objective to provide positive feedback on a job well done to every one of your people at least weekly. This requires you and your management team to actively seek opportunities to provide feedback. Not only does this increase the interest level in the job being done (we all like to be recognised), but it also helps to reinforce positive behavior and performance at the expense of negative alternatives. Also, experience shows that when you provide feedback to the team, they’ll provide feedback to you.

If you’ve been searching for a competitive advantage, then the answer just might be under your nose. Before you start exploring more exotic sources, look at the people who are driving your company right now. You’ll find untold treasure buried behind those familiar faces you see every day.

Pattern in the numbers?
If you are familiar with numbers and number-series puzzles, you are probably naturally inclined to calculate the mathematical relationship between 8 and 11, and then between 11 and 15, and so on until you can speculate as to the mathematical progression – and there is none! The numbers are arranged alphabetically!

Your people are so familiar to you, but if you look at them a little differently, you can learn an awful lot more about what can make them great for you and your organisation.
(Thanks to Donna Engelson of Profiles National Capital for this teaser.)

From the book 40 STRATEGIES FOR WINNING IN BUSINESS by Bud Haney and Jim Sirbasku. © S&H Publishing Co.

IN THIS ISSUE



Reorganise, Redeploy, Ready for Comeback

 

Buried Treasure


 












WHAT'S ON AT PROFILES

Partner Training:
Wed 20th May
2pm - 4pm

Seminar:
There is no seminar scheduled for May.

 
 

 


QUOTES OF THE MONTH

"Those who are blessed with the most talent don't necessarily outperform everyone else. It's the people with follow-through who excel."
– Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics company




“Efficiency is doing better what is already being done."
– Peter Drucker, human organisation expert




"Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can." – Lowell Thomas, writer and broadcaster




"Excellent firms don't believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change."  – Tom Peters, management consultant





"Executives owe it to the organisation and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs."
– Peter Drucker, human organisation expert





"A complete job description goes beyond listing the duties that go with a job title. A complete job description has to describe the attributes of the person who will perform the job in an extraordinary manner because he or she has the right brain power, the right behavioural traits, and the right occupational interests for the job."
– From the book 40 Strategies for Winning in Business by Bud Haney and Jim Sirbasku

 



 

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

The versatility of ProfileXT™ means that we can use it at almost every stage of the employee lifecycle.  
 
Let’s say we are trying to fill an important job from within the company and wonder how several key employees would fit there.

Job Match Patterns provided by ProfileXT™ are effective because they compare the qualities of our job candidates to the attributes of the most productive employees already in the job.

The patterns tell us whether candidates are similar or different from our top performers.

Job Match more accurately predicts job success than any of the commonly accepted factors, such as education, experience, or job training, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review.

And when people fit their work: they are more satisfied and productive, with less stress, tension, conflict, miscommunication, and employee turnover.  
 
 
Organisations are using ProfileXT™ for placement, promotion, self-improvement, coaching, succession planning, and job description development, and clients say it is three to five times more effective than any other assessment they have tried. 

Call us now for a 30% discount on RRP for all ProfileXTs ordered during May 2009.




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