July 2012

Why Companies Are Failing To Maximise Their Most Important Asset

Ramsey Hall often works with organisations that either have organisational issues or realise that without support they will quickly develop them.

All too often we are asked to help facilitate improvement before it is too late. Regrettably, even more organisations ignore this subject. This means that many organisations are lacking fitness for purpose, with outdated structures and job roles, dysfunctional boards and executive teams, and de-motivated staff who lack leadership and direction.

There is a wealth of evidence supporting the notion that the implementation of high performance business practices has a massive impact on business performance. By “high performance” we mean a strategic and systematic approach to people practices across the business. This can include a strategic workforce plan, an effective governance and control structure, role clarity, a strategic and systematic approach to resourcing, a commitment to staff development, and an effective (emphasis on the word effective) compensation & benefits structure to name but a few. Whilst highly desirable as it transforms businesses, fully high performance working is difficult and very expensive to achieve so sensible organisations without the necessary resources must prioritise activities into areas where the business benefits will be felt most quickly and achieve the highest impact.

Based on our experience we have developed a check list in order of greatest impact:

  • Does your organisation have clearly defined job roles and profiles? If not how do you expect employees to understand what is expected from them? We find that very often properly designed role profiles, competencies and person specifications are simply absent. To put a worthwhile profile together is a scientific and objective process using analysis and profiling.
  • Do you have a functional board? How do you ensure directors are regularly reviewed? Do you measure board effectiveness? Too often unquoted companies do not. Their boards are sometimes dominated by inappropriate command and control cultures, poor governance and inappropriate composition (people or roles).
  • When you recruit do you do so strategically with the long term in mind? Do you employ selection strategies designed to recruit the best? Or, is cost your only consideration? We find it hard to believe that in this day and age some organisations put cost considerations above finding the right hire. Our executive search practice does not just screen and forward candidates as this approach simply does not work. Instead we spend time properly profiling shortlisted candidates, using psychometrics and ability tests as well as reference checking and benchmarking. Our psychologists and HR Consultants work with enlightened internal recruiters in order to support selection with objective assessment. The result: better hires, improved business performance and future potential. Why therefore, do some employers insist on a cheap approach or waste money on contingency agencies that merely want to sell CVs? That approach sometimes works at junior levels but won’t at senior or director level. Best practice recruitment is proven to be an essential component of high performance working; you can see why.
  • Have your managers and directors had a recent performance review? Do they have personal development plans that they buy into? Are objectives and key performance indicators in place? Do your managers set the right example and behaviours in the business? We know the answer! Many organisations do not even promote people into management roles based on managerial or leadership ability. Instead craft skills alone are used as a basis for promotion. Worse, once promoted many staff do not receive any feedback let alone development. We regularly witness this when we are asked to tackle people or change management issues, or provide capability development programmes for clients who recognise the need to tackle these people critical issues. We cannot stress too much how important it is to put in place performance management for managers since they have a critical role in shaping and driving the culture of the business. After all, if managers are under developed how can they appreciate the importance of developing their teams?
  • Is your organisational structure fit for the economic environment we live with? Have you benchmarked your organisation against comparators? The answer, unless you have carried out a review in the last four years (since the downturn began) is probably no. This means that you may not have an organisation which reflects your internal and external business environment. For example, a focus on exports or a decision to outsource a particular function to save cost.

We could go on but instead we recommend you call our experts for a free initial discussion on 02380 236944 or 0161 8482444 or alternatively email medavis@ramseyhall.com

The alternative, an outdated organisation which cannot respond to markets, and with a de-motivated workforce that may be ill equipped for future success.