The Virtuous circle – development, engagement, succession & enterprise value


Eiger et al with low cloud

Sometimes when I look up at the peaks above, I reflect on the extra ordinary commitment shown by the individuals who climbed these peaks for the first time as well as the strategies, processes and technologies people used. Dan Ariely – a Behavioral economist – uses the climbing analogy at the start of his TED talk entitled “What makes us feel good about our work?” Dan’s consideration of what motivates us to work argues that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Dan Ariely’s presentation includes a couple of interesting experiments that reveal attitudes toward meaning in our work.

At the same time as evidence is emerging from Behavioral Economics to help us better understand individual motivation, the marketplace is demanding enterprises to be ever more agile.

“A company can see an opportunity to innovate or capture new customers and market share, but by the time resources are allocated and people with the right skills are put in place, the opportunity is gone.” Outlook report entitled “Organization: Working at the speed of opportunity

The study reported that approximately 50% of the 500+ executives surveyed believe that their enterprises lack the capability to move quickly to exploit market shifts or to serve new customers. Furthermore, they are concerned that their culture does not positively support change. They assess their workforces as insufficiently prepared to adapt to, and manage change, as the enterprise experiences economic uncertainty. My sense is that in our agile world we do not have the time to use recruitment as the strategy to address these workforce capability gaps – management are too busy to devote the time needed to recruit significant numbers of the right people – even if they are available – and more over by the time the individuals are recruited and integrated into the organization “the opportunity is gone.”

Perhaps the finding that workforces are insufficiently prepared to adapt is not surprising in view of data on employee engagement (the willingness to invest discretionary effort on the job). For example the 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study highlighted that the employee engagement needed for our volatile environment is at serious risk. More specifically the report noted that “Companies are running 21st Century businesses with 20th – century work-place practices and programs” and that “Retaining employees has more to do with the quality of the work experience overall”. In a recent “>Harvard Business Review Blog Tony Schwartz argues that employees should have an energetic drive to secure sustainable engagement – defined as a work environment that promotes the physical, emotional and social well-being of employees and their mental and spiritual well being. Drawing on evidence in the Towers Watson study he pointed out that: “Companies with low engagement scores had an average operating margin just under 10 percent. Those with high traditional engagement had a slightly higher margin of 14 percent. Companies with the highest “sustainable engagement” scores had an average one-year operating margin of 27 percent.”

In this context of business agility placing greater demands on the capability of enterprise’s people and concerns to create sustainable engagement I was not surprised to see a recent Deloitte “Reframing the Talent Agenda” Paper acknowledge that “the shortage of critical skills, experiences, and specialized capabilities of leaders, managers, creators, and producers required in changing industries” is a major concern of Business Leaders. Moreover the emergence of a “talent paradox” (talent markets with apparent shortages of skills and leaders in labour markets with available—and willing—workers that do not have the required or expected skills and experiences) suggests that enterprise need to tool up to win a “war to develop talent.” As Mark Spelman explains in this short video we have a urgent need to develop the right skills with the opportunities the enterprise has today and will have tomorrow. In addition to more proactive development of our people I believe that there is a strong case for more proactive succession planning. We must improve the probability of having the Right people, in the right place at the right time to optimise effective leadership and the achievement of market opportunities. Not least effective succession planning should mitigate the risks of:
• Untimely departures of critical personnel
• Retirees taking their skills and knowledge with them and leaving nothing behind
• Loosing high value employees to competitors
• Not having continuity across different levels of the organisation

My hypothesis: A virtuous circle can be created by:

Virtuous Circle

  • Involving our people in developing an agenda for developing organisational capability to meet the needs and opportunities they see in the market place(es). For example a Tom Peters Company “Excellence Audit” TM
  • Working with our people to create personal development plans so that we create a robust foundation for developing both the individual capabilities our people see appropriate for their development and the capabilities and enterprise needs – a WIN WIN.
  • Improving the dialogue with our people so that they can see personally the progress they and making and moreover can see Leaders acknowledging it. (one of the points I was reminded of in the Dan Ariely TED) Improved  employee engagement
  • Greater enterprise value and more capacity to invest in the capabilities needed for Continuous transformation of the enterprise and our people

How can Efficienarta help?

In the following short video I explain how Efficienarta can help you develop your people so that they have greater capabilities, are more engaged and able to add more value to your enterprise and your clients in our world of continuous transformation.

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 Call to Action

Contact Huw Morris (+44 1483 604873 (office) +44 7799 060095 (mobile) to explore options for implementing a programme to accelerate the development of your people.   I would be delighted talk to you – either on the telephone or face-to-face meeting – and establish how I can help you develop your staff so that they have the capacity and capability to contribute more to the agility of your enterprise.