Leading from the front: The High Performance Working (HPW) Inventory Dr Andrew Armitage Dr Diane Keeble-Allen

Anglia Ruskin University Andrew.armitage@anglia.ac.uk Diane.keeble-allen@anglia.ac.uk Rivermead Campus Chelmsford Essex 01245 493131 Conference stream: Leadership and management development Submission type: Refereed Abstract The advent of performance metrics over the past two decades has heralded a cultural shift how private, public and third sector organisations have to been managed. At the heart of this cultural change are the aspirations of excellence of delivery that sit within wider strategic leadership and people centered issues. High Performance Working (HPW) is an approach that embraces an adaptive strategy in the selection and application of different “bundles of practice” they employ as a means meet the call for efficiency gains and potentially determine whether they meet the needs of their mission, vision and values in their quest for stakeholder accountability. This paper will give an overview of High Performance Management and will present the design and development of the HPW Inventory that can be used by organisations to assess their current performance against HPW practices against core “bundles of practice”. Key words: Bundles Performance Working of practice, performance measures, strategy, High

Introduction: Overview of High Performance Working (HPW) According to Lloyd and Payne (2004:13), defining HPW remains problematic since ‘there is no clear definition or model and there remains a fundamental lack of agreement about what specific practices might be incorporated in such a definition’. However, there is a general agreement that HPW encompasses terms such as “high commitment’ and ‘high involvement’ and ‘bundles’ of organizational practices which might leverage work activities towards intended business outcomes (Sung and Ashton, 2005). Thus, HPW management practices have included, according to Jones and Wright (1992): ‘comprehensive and performance management systems, and extensive employee involvement and training, that can improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of a firm’s current and potential employees, increase their motivation, reduce shrinkage, and enhance retention of quality employees’. It can be argued that HPW is the successor or an extension of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement, which was at its zenith in the 1980’s and 1990’s (Keeble-Allen and Armitage, 2006 and 2007) and HPW like TQM, focuses upon high performance practices and people centered work systems. It offers a route to sales and revenue growth through quality tools and techniques such as statistical process control, problem solving teams for example quality circles, job design and employee empowerment these being the popular mantras of the quality gurus, Juran, Crosby, Deming and Feigenbaum. The essential features of HPW represent a move from the reliance of management controls towards flatter, non-hierarchical structures, team working or autonomous working based on high levels of trust, communication and involvement (Kettley, 1995). Individuals who work within HPW environments are regarded as being highly valued, skilled and having the intellectual resources to engage in lifelong learning to master new skills and behaviours (see for example Bach, 2005). Thus, the importance of the workforce towards achieving competitive advantage remains critical and it is people’s actions that “make it happen” (Philpott, 2006). Therefore, rather than represent an alternative to other management strategies, for example financial investment, “lean practices” or continuous improvement, HPW is considered as a catalyst and binding agent that underpins the employer-employee relationship (Huselid, 1995; Philpott, 2006). As such, HPW can be perceived as a challenge to the traditional “command and control” attitudes of performance management practices that pervade the public services (Lawton, 2007). These practices hold a resonance with the works of Ramsay et al (2000), and Sparham and Sung (2005) regarding High Performance Working Practices (HPWP’s) who emphasize that HPW deals with principles rather than pre-defined recipes, leaving its implementation and use to the discretion of individual organisations (see also Keeble-Allen and Armitage, 2006 and 2007). Beardwell (2001:12) notes that ‘competitive advantage is derived not from the formal organization and shaping of work per se; but the constituent workforce via both functional flexibility and commitment to organizational business plans and goals’ (see Harmon et al, 2003).

2004). 2003. and project based activities to enable and support performance improvement (Ashton and Sung. autonomy and team working skills. 2006 and 2007). nurturing tacit knowledge within HPW environments is fundamental. by contrast it acts to recognise the “bundles” of practices that might be adopted by organisations to suit particular contexts and competitive environments (Ashton and Sung. such as the development of education and training programmes at all levels of the organisation. process owners. the essential characteristics of HPW include decentralisation. and project management skills in order to enhance performance improvement of the individual and organisational effectiveness (CIPD. yet often overlooked by those who attempt to apply performance measures and outcomes that are devoid of human meaning. such as. The HPW Inventory: Design and methodological development Overview HPW Inventory (see Appendix) was developed by combining extant literature and empirical data within the model building methodologies of Kaplan (1964). What follows is a description of the two-stage process adopted in the development of the C-A-P model and the realization of the HPW Inventory. . Therefore. The inventory emanates from the C-A-P model of Keeble-Allen and Armitage (2007) which has its foundations within the extant literature that was developed using the structured literature review methodology of Denyer. it is a long-term strategy more likely to succeed than alternative approaches. 2007) and as Butler et al (2004) claims. HPW also focuses on people centred issues. yet the recognition of tacit knowledge remains of critical importance in attaining competitive advantage (Ashton and Sung. 2003 and 2004). The “hidden” and unseen “know how” of organisational life can often be overlooked by those operating in turbulent environments. individual empowerment. This implies that HPW should not be considered a short-term morale boosting and efficiency improvement programme.As such. 2003 and 2004). Argyris and Schon (1974) and Tichy and Hornstein (1980). team capabilities. Also central to its philosophy is the use of problem solving tools and techniques such as process mapping and analysis. 2007). devolvement to inclusive decision-making by those closest to the customer. HPW therefore emphasizes self-mana gement. Nadler’s (1980) six criteria evaluation framework (see Table 3) was used to ensure that evidence and data sources had sound theoretical and empirical foundations in the design and development of the HPW Inventory. Tranfield and Smart (2005) and empirical data collected from 160 HRM professionals (KeebleAllen and Armitage. This enables a constant renewal and improvement of service and product offerings to customers (CIPD.

e. and are a central feature to the establishment of face validity (see DTI/HM Treasury/ DfES/DWT.Criteria Explicitness Evidence This is articulated within stated and described constructs. Total Quality Management and Business Process Reengineering (BPR) (Trofino. 2007). care has been taken to allow the inventory to be transferable from one organisational context to another. Keeble-Allen and Armitage. Butler et al. management development had seen both lean management and six-sigma projects being adopted by organisations contributing to the growth of HPW principles and its associated literature (see Figure 1). At the turn of the millennium. Thus whilst the external validity can never be certain across all possible settings. . Teschler. 2003. 2006). 2000. 2004). variables and relationships drawn from best practice sources and case examples (see Ashton and Sung. 2003. Theory-Research driven Operationally defined Empirically validated Face validity Generalisability Table 3 Development of the HPW Inventory (adapted from Nadler. 1980) Stage 1 Model Building Explicitness and the theory based development of the C-A-P model was met by charting the evolution of the HPW landscape from the Tayloristic principles of work study and measurement. 2003). 2006 and 2007). These are defined with respect to fully stated operational criteria. The generalisability of the inventory has been developed from wide range organisational settings and has been tested with respondents from both public and private sector based SME’s and large organisations (Keeble-Allen and Armitage. 2005 and 2007). which are required to measure them in operation. These are linked to the paradigms of High Performance Working and existing theory (Ashton and Sung. 2003). The inventory has been developed from primary data collection from HR professionals thus demonstrating that ‘networked’ relationships do indeed represent what is observed in actual settings and that this is ‘how it is’ in practice (see Keeble-Allen and Armitage. it ‘tells it as it is’ (Ashton and Sung J. This was tested with 160 HRM and 120 public sector management professional in that it makes sense in the real world of organizational settings i.

Six Sigma (GE) Tayloris m TQM Reengineering HPW Lean Manufacturing Figure 1 Evolution of HRM and People Development A Structured Literature Review (SLR) methodology (see Tranfield. Figure 2 shows emergent themes that has developed and emerged over this period. This revealed a set of conceptual approaches emerging from the extant literature. stemming from strands of post-Fordist practices and TQM that underpin the conceptual foundation of HPW (Butler et al. Table 4 Findings of HPW Literature .2006 and shows the main contributors to the HPW debate (see also Butler et al (2004). Denyer and Smart. 2003) was consequently undertaken in order to interrogate the literature in more detail. Table 4 presents the outcomes of a structured literature review undertaken from the period 1999 . 2004).

this might suggest that the path towards employee focused practices and the need to meet customer requirements more exactly. The emergent themes that resulted from the structured literature review were used to inform the empirical data collection stage. . feature prominently amongst the characteristics and attributes associated with HPW. investment in people. employee development and training. The SLR also shows that HPW espouses an approach that focuses on increasing customer value by differentiating an organisation's services and moving towards customisation in order to meet their needs.199 9 2001 2002 2003 Employee development/ Performancemanag ement 8 9 2004 2005 2006 Learning/Change /Culture 7 1 Learning/ Governm ent Learning/ Governm ent 6 Productivity/ Profitability 10 /Best Practice Cultu re 12 11 EmployeePerformance Change/Transform ation Teamworking Culture 2 3 4 5 Innovation/ Restructuring/ Customisa tion 13 Leadership Investment/ Modern practice HPWP 14 15 Learnin g/ Flexibil ity Compatib ility Commitm ent performan ce Change 16 Integration 17 18 AddingValue 19 Leaders hip 20 Training/ Performan ce Figure 2 Evolution of HPW literature showing linkage of themes The literature map illustrates that the issues of leadership. culture. supports the ethos that underpins SDAs and embraces the need for performance management. employee performance. As such.

Eight focus groups were used. comprising of 60 HRM professionals. and to develop the issues that respondents perceived as being central to HPW practices.The collaborative model building approach of Tichy and Hornstein (1980) was used to meet the requirements of the operational definition and empirical validity. Their perceptions of what HPW meant for them and their organizations were recorded. .

how might these be implemented into contemporary organisations? The focus groups contained respondents of varying background from both the private and public sectors. 1982). The eight focus groups were conducted over a four-week period. Criteria • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Leadership Strategic alignment to the external environment Market positioning and customer orientation People centred practice People rewards Investment in people Flexible working and diversity Strategy and tasks The thinking performer Loyalty and inclusiveness Self-motivation Measurable outputs and target setting Added value activities and innovation of processes Quality assurance Action Through People This cluster contains six criteria and examines top management’s commitment and role in building and maintaining action through people. The ages of the participants ranged from 23 to 60. Keeble-Allen and Armitage (2007) identified three major clusters and fourteen criteria that emerge from the evidence. 1980. it is rich and provides insights into participant’s meanings. What was their perception (viewing) of HPW? 2. 2004). thus ensuring that we addressed the issue of construct validity (Rose. Action Through People. Considering these issues in turn. These were. in terms of lengths of experience within the organization. The participants were asked to respond to the following issues: 1. what were the five most important issues that underpin its philosophy? 4. To ensure a more ‘balanced’ set of views. This facilitated a balance between those with deep experience of their organizations and those who could make surface observations of organizational attributes possibly missed by those closer to the organisation (Tichy and Hornstein. Having defined HPW. Using the grounded data analysis approach of Easterby-Smith et al (2004). Cultural Cognisance. which a more constrained research instrument may have limited. they included those with limited HR careers as well as those with extensive experience. (in their opinion) How would they define HPW? 3. Table 5 Criteria of the C-A-P Model .Whilst such data is not generalisable to a wider population. Performance Outcomes This cluster contains three criteria and examines top management’s commitment and role in building and maintaining action through people. Cluster Cultural Cognisance This cluster contains five criteria and examines top management’s commitment and role in building and maintaining cultural cognisance. and Performance Outcomes (see Table 5). Anderson.

1980:126. 1998:83) was confirmed by 120 management professionals from the public and private sector (Keeble-Allen and Armitage. They can be viewed as a means of retaining and developing organizational competencies and employee engagement (Swart and Kinnie. Conclusions This paper presents that High Performance Working (HPW) is not just a short-term morale boosting and efficiency improvement programme. based upon the evidence to date the inventory has accomplished the following five major objectives: 1. 2004). stems from strands of post-Fordist practices. those dealing with employee relations and those stemming from human resource management advocacy (Butler et al. Ashton and Greene. To provide a framework for management in the public sector to assess their organisation’s current emphasis on each of the fourteen criteria 4. Therefore. 2004). 2007). Ashton and Sung. which we have captured in our C-A-P Model. regarding the perceptions of HPW practices. These can be grouped into those referring to production management. indicate similarities with the extant literature (see for example. Huselid. 1996). To differentiate the importance of each criteria in terms of organisational effectiveness 3. 2003 and 2004. as a set of conceptual approaches. Respondents were asked to select a response to five constructs associated with each criterion (see Appendix) and enter them onto a scoring sheet in order to evaluate the HPW status of their organisation (see Appendices 2 and 3). To stimulate planning designed to increase the organisation’s level of HPW involvement . 2003) and professional bodies (e. To offer the respondents the opportunity to identify and to define fourteen criteria of HPW 2. The findings from phase two of the validation process confirmed the inventories face and content validity. Lawler et al. CIPD. 1980:323. development and administration of HPW Inventory indicate that it may be used with large and small public sector organisations.Stage 2 Validation The C-A-P model was translated into the HPW Inventory so that the fourteen criteria could be validated as a means to evaluate the performance status of an organisation and was informed by the Regan’s (1992) Total Quality Management Inventory.g. Tashakkori and Teddlie. 1996. It indicated that the three clusters and fourteen criteria meet the requirements of both face and content validity. HPW remains a means by which an organisation can adopt ‘bundles’ of practices that suits its particular context and competitive environment (Ashton and Sung. A second phase of validation further tested its face and content validity and it was distributed to 100 HRM professionals. 2004). The findings of our empirical study. To initiate discussions about the adequacy of the organisation’s level of activity for each of the fourteen criteria 5. The design. In the first phase the face and content validity (see Nadler. HPW. The validation of the HPW Inventory was in two phases in order to confirm the generalisability of the inventory. 2007) are investing time in promoting HPW as providing competitive advantage both for the nation and businesses within the UK. It further remains a theme that both the government (DTI.

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Instruct the respondents to read each of the six statements listed under each element. Respondents simply transfer their answers from the High Performance Working (HPW) Inventory to the appropriate rows and columns on the scoring sheet. Distribute copies of the High Performance Working (HPW) Inventory Theory Sheet Review the descriptions of the clusters and fourteen criteria to ensure that respondents understand their focus. 5. HPW is a strategic culture.Appendix The High Performance Working (HPW) Inventory Administration of the inventory The following suggestions for administrating the inventory are based upon the validity testing of the instrument and are offered as a helpful guide to the facilitator who administers the instrument: 1. not to encourage respondents to initiate a premature discussion of their organisations’ placements on the ranking scales. It is important that respondents understand that HPW is not another faddish. 2. Explanatory remarks should be simple and to the point. Request that the respondents wait to score the instrument until everyone has completed it. After responses have been circled for all fourteen criteria.based commitment in meeting customer requirements and to a continually improving of products and services. short term. . The right column of the scoring sheet has point values for each of the possible six responses to each element. each respondent totals the circled point values to obtain an overall score for the inventory. The foundations on which the commitment is built can be found in the three clusters forming the core of the instrument and the fourteen criteria that these contain. productivity-improvement ‘program’. Choices range from exceptionally strong performance to total absence of performance for each element. Respondents choose the statement that best describes how they perceive the present situation in their organisation. 4. 3. Distribute copies of the instrument and read the instructions aloud as the respondents follow. discuss briefly the concept of HPW. Instead. Before respondents complete the inventory. Scoring sheet Each respondent should be given a copy of the High Performance Working (HPW) Inventory Scoring Sheet. The left column of the scoring sheet lists the fourteen criteria that underpin high performance working. The purpose of this step is to clarify the meanings of the three clusters and fourteen criteria.

teamwork and decision making that is shared and communicated through the organization F.Cluster 1: Cultural Cognisance Leadership A.making that is shared and communicated through the organisation E. Some top management participate in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics and responses to the external environment E. Some top management are directly and actively involved in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics and responses to the external environment D. teamwork and decision making that is shared and communicated through the organisation B. Some top management are directly and actively involved in open leadership. No top management participate in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics and responses to the external environment . All top management are actively and directly involved in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics and responses to the external environment. team work and decision making that is shared and communicated through the organisation C. No top management participate in open leadership. No top management are directly and actively involved in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics F. B. Some top management participate in open leadership. All top management are directly and actively involved in open leadership. No top management are directly and actively involved in open leadership. teamwork and decision. All top management participate in the strategic alignment of operations and tactics and responses to the external environment C. All top management participate in open leadership. teamwork and decision making that is shared and communicated through the organisation Strategic Alignment and the External Environment A. teamwork and decision making that is shared and communicated through the organization D.

people centred culture F. creative. All top management participate in clear market positioning and customer orientation C. creative. No top management are directly and actively involved in clear market positioning and customer orientation F. No top management are directly and actively involved in an open. All top management are directly and actively involved in clear market positioning and customer orientation B. No top management participate in clear market positioning and customer orientation People Centred Practice and Culture A. creative. All top management participate in an open. Some top management participate in clear market positioning and customer orientation E. No top management participate in an open. Some top management are directly and actively involved in clear market positioning and customer orientation D. creative. All top management are directly and actively involved in an open. people centred culture . people centred culture D. creative. people centred culture B. Some top management are directly and actively involved in an open.Market Positioning and Customer Orientation A. people centred culture C. people centred culture E. Some top management participate in an open. creative.

Some top management are directly and actively in people reward systems D. No top management participate in people reward systems .People and Rewards A. All top management are directly and actively involved in people reward systems B. No top management are directly and actively in people reward systems F. All top management participate in people reward systems C. Some top management participate in people reward systems E.

Some top management participate in flexible working and diversity E. Some top management participate in the investment in people such as education and training E. No top management participate in flexible working and diversity . All top management participate in flexible working and diversity C. Some top management are directly and actively involved in flexible working and diversity D. Some top management are directly and actively involved in the investment in people such as education and training D. No top management participate in the investment in people such as education and training Flexible Working and Diversity A. All top management are directly and actively involved in flexible working and diversity B.Cluster 2: Action Through People Investment in People A. No top management are directly and actively involved in flexible working and diversity F. No top management are directly and actively involved in the investment in people such as education and training F. All top management are directly and actively involved in the investment in people such as education and training B. All top management participate in the investment in people such as education and training C.

No top management participate in the encouragement and empowerment such as the ‘thinking performer’ . Some top management participate in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organisation E. All top management participate in the encouragement of empowerment of employees such as the ‘thinking performer’ C. Some top management participate in the encouragement of empowerment of employees such as the ‘thinking performer’ E. No top management participate in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organisation The thinking performer A.Strategy and Tasks A. All top management are directly and actively involved in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organisation B. Some top management directly and actively encourage the empowerment of employees such as the ‘thinking performer’ D. No top management are directly and actively involved in the encouragement of the empowerment of employees such as the ‘thinking performer’ F. Some top management are directly and actively involved in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organisation D. All top management participate in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organization C. All top management directly and actively encourage the empowerment of employees such as the ‘thinking performer’ B. No top management are directly and actively involved in the transparent alignment of tasks and functional roles to strategic requirements of the organisation F.

All top management participate in the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness C. All top management are directly and actively involved in the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness B. Some top management participate in the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness E. Some top management are directly and actively involved in the selfmotivation of employees D. Some top management are directly and actively involved in the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness D. No top management are directly and actively involved the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness F. All top management are directly and actively involved in the self-motivation of employees B. No top management participate in the self-motivation of employees .Loyalty and Inclusiveness A. No top management are directly and actively involved in the s elf-motivation of employees F. No top management participate in the encouragement of loyalty and inclusiveness Self-motivation A. Some top management participate in the self-motivation of employees E. All top management participate in the self-motivation of employees C.

Some top management participate in value added activities such as business re-engineering. All top management participate in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets C. All top management are directly and actively involved in value added activities such as business re-engineering.Cluster 3: Performance Outcomes Measurable Outputs and Target Setting A. Some top management are directly and actively involved in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets D. No top management are directly and actively involved value added activities such as business re-engineering. All top management participate in value added activities such as business reengineering. No top management participate in value added activities such as business reengineering. No top management are directly and actively involved in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets F. cost benefits and innovation of processes and innovation of processes E. All top management are directly and actively involved in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets B. Some top management participate in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets E. No top management participate in measurable outcomes such as benchmarking and setting targets Value Added Activities and Innovation of Processes A. Some top management are directly and actively involved value added activities such as business re-engineering. cost benefits and innovation of processes F. cost benefits and innovation of processes C. cost benefits and innovation of processes B. cost benefits and innovation of processes D. cost benefits and innovation of processes .

customer responsiveness and service delivery C. customer responsiveness and service delivery F. No top management are directly and actively involved in quality assurance. Some top management are directly and actively involved in quality assurance. Some top management participate in quality assurance. customer responsiveness and service delivery . customer responsiveness and service delivery D. customer responsiveness and service B. No top management participate in quality assurance. All top management participate in quality assurance.Quality assurance and customer responsive and service A. customer responsiveness and service delivery E. All top management are directly and actively involved in quality assurance.

. Then circle the number that corresponds to the number you choose. For each of the clusters listed on the High Performance Inventory in the left column. 2. find the letter under the heading labelled Response categories that corresponds to the one you choose on the questionnaire. 3. Add up the total of each column and add to the score sheet to determine the score for each cluster and the overall score across all the fourteen criteria.Scoring sheet To determine the scores on the inventory follow the steps below: 1.

High Performance Working Clusters A Criteria 1 2 3 4 5 Cluster 1: Cultural Cognisance Leadership Strategic alignment and the external environment Market positioning and customer orientation People Centred Practice and culture People and rewards Cluster 1: Response scores Cluster 1: Total response score 20 20 20 20 20 16 16 16 16 16 B Response categories C 12 12 12 12 12 D 8 8 8 8 8 E 4 4 4 4 4 F 0 0 0 0 0 Cluster 2: Action Through People 6 7 8 9 10 11 Investment in people Flexible working and diversity Strategy and tasks The thinking performer Loyalty and inclusiveness Self-motivation 20 20 20 20 20 20 16 16 16 16 16 16 12 12 12 12 12 12 8 8 8 8 8 8 4 4 4 4 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 Cluster 2: Response scores Cluster 2: Total response score _ .

Cluster 3: Performance Outcomes 12 13 14 Measurable Outputs and target setting Added value activities and innovation of processes Quality assurance and customer responsive and service 20 20 20 16 16 16 12 12 12 8 8 8 4 4 4 0 0 0 Cluster 3: Response scores Cluster 3: Total response score Cluster 1 Total response scores Cluster 2 Cluster 3 Total overall response score .

An organisation in this range needs to address urgently their focus on people issues. leadership style. working environment and leadership approaches to move to the next level of performance. Total overall response score range 57-112 A score in this range indicates that an organisation needs to attain more awareness of what High Performance Working means and how it can be applied to their current practices. An organisation of this type should focus initially on small project lead initiatives that can yield short term and visible results as a means to ‘buy-in’ the workforce and gain management support and confidence. Total overall response score range 225-280 A score in this range indicates an organisation that has high commitment and long vision to its people. working environment and leadership approach. processes. It should focus its future attention on the weaker parts of its processes. Total overall response score range 113-168 A score in this range indicates that an organisation has certain criteria in place and the foundations to become a High Performing organisation. quality assurance and innovation processes. An organisation in this category is best in class. Total overall response score range 169-224 A score in this range indicates an organisation that has a sound and well-organised approach to the management of its people. working environment and leadership style.High Performance Working Inventory Interpretation Sheet Total overall response score range 0-56 A score in their range indicates that an organisation has no awareness of High Performance Working practices and has no involvement in the well being of its employees. processes. working practices and leadership approaches if it is to compete in the current competitive environment. its working practices. .

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