The key factors that contribute to managing people effectively and building a highly skilled, committed work force are listed below and will be discussed in the following sections:
1. Organisational Values
2. Business Information
3. Personal Development
5. Partnerships between business and education
1 Organisational Values
Many businesses remain organised around the traditional, functional departments. Here, managers are individually responsible for specific aspects of the business, for example, marketing, engineering design, production and distribution.
These structures were helpful when large numbers of semi-skilled employees were required to perform basic, repetitive tasks. In the past decade, however, many companies have found that it makes sense for them to re-organise into a process-based structure. This simply means that instead of passing the responsibility for meeting a customer from sales department to planning department to manufacturing etc, a group of people take joint responsibility for the entire order fulfilment process from taking the order through to delivery and payment processing.
In addition to the order fulfilment process, a typical manufacturing business might have a number of other processes, such as new product introduction, strategy development, replacement parts order fulfilment etc.
This process oriented structure is usually echoed in the company environment. People will typically work in teams to undertake a range of multi-disciplinary tasks that are important to the customer and hence to the success of the business.
If you want your company to be an organisation where people are able and capable of taking responsibility for their own work, you will need
· Highly motivated senior managers
· A genuine understanding of the value of the core workforce
· A willingness on the part of senior management to encourage the workforce to take more responsibility
· A strong and committed contribution from everyone in the organisation
· A workforce prepared to undertake a wide range of tasks and take responsibility for the quality of their own work
The above points represent a significant change in the way that many companies would normally work. To be successful, your managers will need to lead the change by being willing to embrace changes in the way that they will work and behave. Once this change in the management is established, the workforce will usually follow. Any change of this type, however, will require considerable time, effort and goodwill.
It is important to note that the change being discussed here should not be considered the end of your journey. In fact, it will only be the beginning. Your company needs to establish an environment where people are willing to embrace change. This is really only possible in a company where people work as a team, supporting each other and the company and being supported by the company in return.
In this environment it is much more likely that employees will be able to achieve job satisfaction and, ultimately, be happier. This must make the organisation more successful and long lived than a company driven by fear and rhetoric. Making this transition is a difficult but rewarding task, involving everyone in the organisation.
A good first step in making a change in the culture of your company is to define your organisational values. Some companies have the management team develop the values and deliver them to the workforce. Perhaps a better way is to develop a draft of the company values as a management team and then ask the workforce to add their thoughts. If you do this and make sure you incorporate some of the suggestions, you will find that the result is more representative of your company and that the workforce are much more likely to take the values seriously.
The values can cover a range of topics, such as:
· The importance of customers to the business and how you want to meet their needs
· How managers will provide leadership and gain people’s respect
· How the business will adopt team working, with the workforce accepting joint responsibility
· The way that the workforce will be encouraged and trusted to take calculated risks, based on potential benefits to the business. Failure will not be punished, but used as a lesson.
· How people will be trained in order to help them to achieve their full potential
· The needed for continuous improvement in everything the company does
· The importance of integrity and reliability from all employees in all circumstances
· How the company will recognise effort and achievement and treat people fairly
These values should be widely displayed around your company and everyone encouraged to accept and adopt them. It is most important, however, that managers are seen to fully embrace them at all times. Failure to do this will kill the change before it is fully begun.
Managers in your company will have the responsibility to provide a dynamic and supportive environment where the workforce can enjoy their work, growing in ability and confidence. This can be helped by:
· Dismantling departmental silos and building a process driven organisation
· Establishing a team-based culture based on mutual support
· Employing everyone on the same terms and conditions
· Providing equal opportunities for career progression, limited only by a person’s abilities and commitment
· Providing training to broaden people’s skills and knowledge
· Making every endeavour to ensure that the workplace is safe and compliant with all national and international legislation
· Promoting initiatives to continually reduce the environmental impact of products and the processes used in their manufacture
· Conserving energy and recycling consumable materials wherever possible.
2 Business Information
In an organisation where your workforce are committed to support their company, it is important to provide employees with meaningful statements on future plans for the business and regular communications on current performance It is important, however, that information on how the business is performing should be carefully managed; so that you avoid providing your competitors with information that could be used to erode your competitive advantage. For this reason, these communications should be presented verbally by senior managers in order to prevent wider circulation of sensitive information.
Regular monitoring and reporting on key financial and non financial aspects of the business’s performance is an essential, but fairly routine activity for most companies. You can gain further advantage from this performance measurement, however, by using it positively to acknowledge achievements and help motivate people to strive for even greater success. Where the measures indicate problems, rather than blaming the people involved, support should be offered to ascertain the cause of the problem and find the best solution.
3 Personal Development
Based on past figures, it seems very likely that in ten years time, many companies will still retain a high proportion of their current employees. This means that you will need to ensure that your workforce (including all managers) are regularly assessed to see what kinds of training they need in order to equip them to take on the new roles and responsibilities that will be needed to commercially exploit the ever-changing business environments.
In the near future, it is likely that people will be expected to have a broader range of skills, know how to work in teams and take responsibility for providing enhanced customer satisfaction. Most employees willingly accept these challenges, provided that they have been equipped with the training, education and support needed to succeed in their new roles and they receive recognition for their efforts.
The UK Government has passed the ‘Disability and Discrimination Act’ which legislates that equality in the workplace must be provided by every employer. This should be done by adopting appropriate policies, where everyone is given equal opportunities to succeed, and rigorously enforcing them.
Employers are becoming more diligent in recording information on gender, age, ethnic grouping and disability profiles in order to provide reports on their specific workforce statistics. This provides evidence to support their claims to be an equal opportunity company.
A useful way to test whether your policies are being properly implemented is to carry out an attitude survey. This can tell you about levels of job satisfaction, employee development programmes, training needs, management relationships, leadership, compensation etc.
5 Partnerships between business and education
Partnerships between business and education have always been important. As industry is now changing faster than ever, these links at all levels of education will be paramount. Without these partnerships industries may not have access to people with the skills necessary to support future knowledge-based economies.
· In secondary schools, it is important to make pupils aware of the needs of commerce and industry.
· At universities, undergraduate students need to be educated in business, technology, engineering and manufacturing disciplines and given opportunities to gain some practical experience working in companies such as yours.
· At post graduate level, researchers must focus on developing ways of creating wealth.
Over the past decade, the UK has lost control of a number of large companies involved in product innovation. For this reason, universities and research establishments now have an even more critical role in applying science and mathematics to create technologies that will generate future wealth.