As leaders, our ability to recognize, respond to, and stay ahead of cultural shifts is key to maintaining organizational effectiveness. You’re likely already hearing increased talk about corporate culture and fit, coping with changing workforce needs, and noticing how a values gap affects your ability to attract and retain the next generation of employees. Here’s a look at the areas of organizational assessment that will have the most significant impact on your effectiveness amid these significant challenges.
• Alignment: The most critical key to increased organizational effectiveness is alignment of people, systems, and processes. Most often inconsistencies in an organization are symptoms of misalignment at the top or in the organization’s core structure. Achieving clarity and alignment in top leadership and core systems will save time, energy and financial resources and improve employee engagement, leading to increased productivity.
A common source of misalignment is the gap between aspirational values and culture (who we say we are) and actual values and culture (our real lived experience). To assess and narrow this gap, start by engaging in dialogue and observing behaviors within your organization.
A few questions to get you started: What is our win as an organization? Why do we exist? What are our expectations regarding how we interact with each other? What do we prioritize? What do we reward or celebrate? How do we get things done? Who are our most productive employees and what makes them so? How are we perceived or experienced by those doing business with us? Do our actual values, identity, and culture align with our stated values, identity, culture? How do employees at all levels of the organization answer these questions?
"The most critical key to increased organizational effectiveness is alignment of people, systems, and processes"
• Feedback: Soliciting employee and customer inputs proactively and regularly is key to gauging the effectiveness of your organization and improving relationships and outcomes. Employee and customer input also is critical to understanding your organization’s state of alignment as well as investing in the longevity of the relationship.
Consider how employees and customers are invited to give feedback. What tools are in place to solicit input from and gauge the experience of employees and customers? Do the questions you’re asking reflect what you value and what your employees and customers value? Do your feedback processes, and tools encourage desired behaviors and outcomes? How can you remove barriers to creating accurate, real-time touchpoints throughout the employee and customer experience?
• Selection and Hiring: Recruiters today often use keywords to look for candidates whose experience mirrors accurately the roles being filled and whose resumes show proven results. Unfortunately, these indicators do not accurately reflect the whole candidate and what they will bring into your organization. Similarly, a candidate’s previous titles, responsibilities, and results are not necessarily predictors of fit or success within your organization. We are hiring people, not machines, and there is no one-size-fits-all formula.
The realities of current hiring challenges demand a change in tools and how we do things. Employers must be able to discern transferable skills and unique strengths in candidate profiles if they are to hire right-fit, engaged individuals. Here are a few suggestions:
• Create job descriptions and profiles that are honest and specific about who you are, the work dynamic and context, and who you are looking to hire. Do away with vague, one-size-fits-all job descriptions. Instead, ask: What strengths, skills, competencies, and traits are needed to fulfill the job responsibilities and to be effective in the actual role and context? What’s required to be a great fit in the organization?
• Design selection processes that give candidates an opportunity to show who they are and how their competencies and skills fit those needed. Consider what your hiring process gives weight to. Are candidates given opportunities to display their strengths, skills, and competencies and the traits required for the role and context? How might you incorporate a job sample, interactive exercise, activity, behavioral indicator, and assessments into your application and/or interview process?
• Seek a win-win outcome by using conversational dialogue and listening skills to draw out information about the candidate, including what they are seeking and their preferred work style and environment. Do your recruiting systems prioritize mutual best interests for your organization and the candidate, or do they encourage closing the deal? Longevity and engagement increase when a new hire is a right fit for your organization and the role and context are the right fit for the candidate.
• Relationships: Investing in people, leveraging individual strengths, communicating clearly, and building teams with role flexibility are vital in maintaining an engaged workforce and creating the agility needed to adjust to changing business realities. Flexible structures and simple processes will yield far better results than complex processes and rigid structures.
Don’t make the common mistake of letting overly structured roles and a focus on managing tasks and processes take the place of the all-important if seemingly messier work of leading people. A transactional way of relating will produce a disengaged, grumbling, and frustrated employee and diminishing performance.
How agile and straightforward are your organizational structure and processes? How can those in leadership roles increase communication, empowerment, and accountability and let go of managing operations and tasks? What opportunities are there for individuals to bring their unique strengths and skills into their role, team, and organization?
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