If you are an avid reader of the commentary about Generation Y and Millennials you'd be excused for typecasting all of them as highly demanding narcissists. At work they are impatient to be managing directors on six figure salaries. If they were rock stars they'd be the divas demanding chilled Evian water and blue m&ms before each show.
Many employers have responded to this stereotype of the new age employee with great expectations by doing what seems logical - by giving Generation Y and Millennials what they supposedly want! Like hosts of children's birthday parties, some organisations have tried to outdo each other with the coolest work accessory - pool tables, slides between floors and sleeping capsules.
Whilst these funky perks might attract and retain some employees, they are not going to do it for all Generation Y and Millennials, and what about the other generations? Have we forgotten that our workforce is ageing rather than getting younger?
Unfortunately this trend toward designing the coolest workplace runs the risk of putting style over substance. As an attempt to attract and retain more employees there is the danger that it might do the opposite in the longer term, particularly if it distracts the organisation from investing in the things that really impact the performance and wellbeing of the larger proportion of employees.
In essence is this another example of us putting want ahead of need?
FBG in partnership with Australian National University presented “Building Organisational Capability for Future Challenges – Victorian Public Sector Forum on Tuesday 24th November in Melbourne. A cross section of Victorian public sector leaders attended and took part in some very interesting conversations examining practical strategies to build people capability to position organisations for the increasing complexities and challenges ahead.
The forum commenced with a presentation from Professor Giles Hirst who posed three important leadership questions to the audience.
Whilst a lot of attention is paid to ‘up-skilling’ in leadership programs, there is evidence to suggest that focusing instead on values-driven behaviour in leaders may be more successful in achieving desired organisational outcomes. Allowing values to guide behaviour is likely to be more motivating for leaders and bring out a leader’s inherent strengths. People who like what they do, do it more often and get better at it, producing superior performance. As such capabilities naturally emerge when values driven behaviour is unleashed, as opposed to building capabilities that are neither motivating nor one’s strengths.more info
Accountability is a word that many organisations find difficult to define for themselves. "We want to create a culture of accountability" they say but when asked to define what this means, what it looks like and how to get there, the answers are challenging and the conversation to get to that clarity can take time.
Multiple things need to be in place in an organisation before it can rightfully claim to possess a culture of accountability. This includes clarity about where the responsibility lies for task completion and outcomes, and the existence of processes and structure that facilitate rather than undermine people accepting their role and responsibilities.
Throughout any working day, at each point where action needs to be taken or has been taken, we have a choice as to the accountability we wish to take. When things go wrong that were our responsibility we can choose to accept our contribution or we can deny, rationalise, minimise and/or deflect blame to others.
Our willingness to accept responsibility, be open about our contribution and face what we need to do differently can be more than just the sum of our character. The context within which we are operating can be a significant influencer on our decisions.
Organisations invest billions of dollars in training every year in the hope that these investments will provide benefits in the form of improved employee and organisational performance. The problem is training literature cites that only 10% of what is learned in training is actually applied to the workplace. Whilst it’s important for employees to gain new skills and knowledge, it’s not much good if the workplace doesn’t achieve a return on that investment (ROI) in the form of tangible improvements in individual and organisational performance.
Too often organisations assess their ROI from training on employee feedback forms collected at the end of the training program. These feedback forms are a flawed measure of ROI for two reasons. Firstly, many training participants are already disposed to report beneficial skill gains as a way of justifying their participation. Their claims of skills acquired can be exaggerated. Secondly, the purpose of training is not the mere acquisition of skills but their application in the workplace over time which means much of the feedback provided by participants at the conclusion of training is premature. Organisations would be better placed to look deeper at the Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation, in particular starting with level 4 in mind – Results – and planning all training interventions to generate outcomes at each level as a true ROI measure.more info
One of the most challenging issues any manager can face is managing an underperforming employee who seems more interested in avoiding accountability than improving their performance. In some cases it can consume a large portion of a manager's time and mental energy.
Sometimes entrenched underperformance is a product of what has gone on before you as manager. The employee has been allowed to under-perform because of previous avoidance of the issues. You're left to try to turn things around. Sometimes you can but sometimes it doesn't seem possible.
If you have come to the point where a formal underperformance process is required, a recent case from the Fair Work Commission is instructive.