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Adapting to a Competitive World

Ensuring your business can meet the challenges ahead
This paper aims to address the question, What do I need to do to ensure my business can meet the challenges ahead? In 2012 we can see that every business will have to meet one fundamental challenge in order to survive and prosper to ruthlessly pursue greater efficiency. For many organisations this will mean rigorous cost management and reducing risk. All businesses will need to be able to deal with a wider range of changes, to deal with them more quickly while managing with fewer resources, and to do this in a period of greater and greater uncertainty. Past experience will no longer be an adequate guide to future action. Successful organisations will pursue two complementary goals. They will build healthy and effective organisations characterised by learning, innovation, improvement and self-renewal, and they will achieve sustainable high performance through people. The starting point is a clear sense of where your business wants to be. Be clear about your market, your product, and the resources and organization required to deliver them Define an approach to differentiating yourself in a crowded market place

Find value propositions for all your stakeholder investors, customers, suppliers, employees, community With a direction set, think through the how to questions How to align your internal resources and capability with your overall plan How to mobilise and engage your employees to support the plan How to align culture and strategy, essential if you want long term success

So, to create the effective organization and to achieve sustainable performance, organizations will1 Widen the circle of involvement Connect people to each other Create communities for action Promote fairness

This paper looks at what this means and provides an insight into how to do this.

Axelrod (2010)
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Creating the successful organization

There is a link between organization performance, the world of work and the development of employee potential and creativity. Harness this capability and you will ensure that your staff engage with their work regardless of how hostile the work environment becomes2. However, do not think of employee engagement as an end in itself, nor as just the outcome of some Human Resources intervention. You need to address all aspects of your business, technology, systems, and people, as well as your relationship with the external environment. What brings this all together is a clear set of values. Constructing a great organization will help ensure it remains relevant and fit for its constituents. It will be Adaptable and change-ready Enabling innovation and will be knowledge rich Remove internal boundaries Stimulating individuals to higher levels of performance A great place to work Values based

Building adaptability and change orientation

It may sound like typical Human Resources jargon, but there is strong evidence3 that all staff have a desire to have control over their work life, to have autonomy and the opportunity for personal fulfilment. This can take many forms, and making it fit with your own organization may have challenges. However, whether measured in terms of profitability, customer satisfaction, stakeholder return, or employee engagement organisations that adopt these values are more successful. In brief, this is an approach that does things with people, not to them. Consider how these points relate to your objectives Your employees will support what they help create4 People do not resist change, people resist being changed5 Activating the self-energizing commitment of people around changes they deeply care about has been the key to many successes that have been achieved6 A value is only a value when it is voluntarily chosen7

When considering any change, identify the key groups (those who could block implementation or whose active support is essential). Right from the start give a role in the change to anyone whose support is critical regardless of rank or position. Allow them to shape the future, and the plans on how to get there. This means that you will have to give them the opportunity to review their own work environment, its systems and facilities.

2 3 4 5 6 7

CIPD (2011): Unipart fuses engagement with 'lean' to boost output Pink: Drive, the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, 2009 Weisbord, 1987 Richard Beckhard Senge 1999 Senge 1999
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Collaborate with them to create the change programme. People learn best, and more willingly apply what they have learnt, when they do it themselves. Decisions are best implemented by those who helped make them. This methodology is successful because a critical mass of people participating has Understood the need for change Analysed the current situation and identified what needs to change Generated ideas about how to change Worked together to implement and support change Gained energy and commitment to their work

The role of Human Resources

The human resources function will be the place where thought leadership can be brought into the organization, orchestrating capability in change management, organization design, employee engagement, leadership capability and cultural change. It is critical that this is done in the context of the business plan, not as desirable objectives in their own right. In the context of supporting change, specific tasks will include Retaining key talent Handling redundancies and other exits Supporting line managers Ensuring effective communications Re-engaging the survivors Combining action and learning Defining the new employment relationship, rebuilding a recognition of different objectives and values for different stakeholders Leading Human Resource practitioners will think systematically about the tensions at play in the change process. They need the strategic ability to work with paradox and ambiguity, to be business enablers, not business preventers. Human Resource practitioners need to Understand their business and its key drivers - what motivates the different business partners. Build commercial acumen, be numerate, and speak the language of your business. Keep up to date. Be bold, using judgement to take decisions quickly that align with the values of the organization and help the business achieve its objectives Sustain a focus on quality Take on challenges Share ideas and practice

The role of line management

The line manager is the point of contact between the employee and the organization. This pivotal role is critical in the construction of an engaged workforce. Line managers have a number of specific tasks Identify the issues that adversely impact on employee engagement as well as following through on actions that support it
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Grow future talent nurturing those committed to building employee engagement Live the value, moving from I to We Support the shift in leadership mind set and practice

So, what is change?

Change, especially when its about how we do things as well as what we do, is a social movement. Leaders of change help people become aware (and self-aware). The direct mechanisms of change have been identified as leadership, reward, recruitment, and excommunication. Indirect mechanisms include organization design, structure, systems, procedures, design of physical space. Change (and resistance to change) is supported by the hidden (the stories, myths and legends of the organisation) as well as the overt (ethics, values, cultural and social responsibility expressed as formal statements of policy) culture. For most organisations change has to become the new normal. Building an acceptance that change is continuous and the way we do things around here will help reduce barriers to change, and reduce the stresses associated with change. There are many change models and a great deal written about change management. A simple version of the change model will help business leaders and Human Resource practitioners in their delivery. Assessment

Conduct an assessment of the current state, looking at systems, people, technology, as well as the financial and commercial objectives of the organisation Design

Use the information from the assessment phase to create an operational plan that addresses all the critical issues. For complex changes adopting a Work Stream approach (allocating specific areas of responsibility with clear accountabilities) makes sure that Human Resources and Operational and Commercial requirements are fully integrated. Implementation

During implementation, the work-stream approach ensures continuity of ownership. The objective is to complete transition as quickly as possible, within budget and with no adverse impact on levels of service. . Embedding and Review

Milestones and KPIs covering business and people aspects of the change will have been set when the plan was developed. As the implementation progresses evaluate performance against those standards. Variance from the plan should lead to modifications responding to changing circumstances, to keep the implementation on track to hit its final goals and to ensure the change is fully embedded in the organisation. A review at the end of the change programme helps you ensure that you and your management team learn from the experience, giving you greater capability for the future. An engaged workforce in an adaptable organisation, sharing a positive view of change, will provide you with the most robust platform for continuing success and sustained, profitable, growth.

Nettlecroft, Cheltenham Road, Cirencester, GL7 2HX | +44 (0) 1285 641 127 | +44 (0) 7500 518 923 Copyright Nigel Cox Consulting 2011