Living the values

I had a fascinating conversation this morning with the HR Director of a large engineering company as part of my #sharingorg research.

He has been helping to foster a change in how his organisation collaborates internally and externally, necessitated by changes in the markets in which the company operates (they’re big in mineral commodities, mineral commodities have crashed the past few years).

As part of that change programme, the company has been trying to ensure that its structures, it’s management style, its rewards and compensation as well as its technology are all in alignment to reinforce that acting collaboratively is the required behaviour. That included changes to the company’s performance management processes.

But here’s the paradox: by entombing the assessment of collaborative behaviours into Likert scale questions in the performance management system, they found that it gave managers the opportunity to not have to talk to people about their sharing practices; a tick on a web form and a few comments in a box would suffice.

A perfect example of how the methods which one uses to achieve a goal need to be commensurate with the goal itself; methods to make people more collaborative must, in themselves, be collaborative in nature. Ticking boxes on a system isn’t collaborative in its broader sense – it allows people to avoid collaborating with others.

Suffice to say the company are now addressing this with structures and frameworks that ensure that the conversations are had, rather than them being sacrificed to process and IT systems. And managers who can’t or won’t have such conversations in their teams are being helped to do so, or helped to find employment elsewhere.

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