What are some of the goals of a commercial enterprise?
What are some of the goals of a non-profit organization?
How do these different kinds of organizations achieve their goals?
So what ultimately are the enablers to achieving the company or organization's goals? They are the people working in these companies and organizations. They are the workforce, human resources, employees, Volunteers - whatever you wish to call them , in short, the living flesh and blood of these bodies.
So in order to reach the end goal of profits or a quality product and respect from the community, Companies and Organizations need to harness , encourage , develop and harvest the talents of the people working for them. At the forefront of every company's strategy must be the development and acquisition of capable, empowered and talented leaders, Leaders:-
Jim Collins in his book "Good to Great" says that he had a team of researchers working and researching on eleven companies that attained meteoric growth and sustained that growth for a period of 15 years or more and at the heart of that growth was a great, aggressive, humble and innovative leadership .
Where did these companies find these leaders? In a staggering 90-95 percent of the cases, the Leadership was home-grown. Yes, the leaders have risen through the ranks within these companies and have catapulted them to great heights. Therefore, Harvesting Home Grown Talent does pay rich dividends a lot of times.
And yes, Home Grown Talent is not only useful in developing leadership skills, but also for retaining efficient workers who keeping improving and excelling at what they do but may not have leadership aspirations.
My perception of Harvesting Home Grown Talent is a four step process :-
I was thoroughly impressed by an Article called "What Great Managers Do" by Marcus Buckingham on the Harvard Business Review website. He tells a story of an exceptional leader, who was the Manager of a Walgreens store who effectively used the above four steps to lead the store to success.
In every Walgreens store there is a concept of Reset and Revision. A Reset involves stocking an aisle with new merchandise, whereas a Revision is rearranging the items to look more appealing. The manager Michelle, had a rather eccentric looking gentleman as a staff member who she may have never employed, had he not expressed an interest in doing a "difficult to resource" graveyard shift at night.
She realized that this gentleman, when told to perform a generic task , would fiddle with it for hours together but when given a specific task , like re-arranging the "Christmas merchandise" , excelled at it. The manager recognized his talent and made him the "re-arranging" and "re-setting" in-charge for the whole store.
On the other hand, this staff member wasn't good at customer service. So she discovered another lady working in the "cosmetics" part of the store who was extremely good at customer service and at the same time was very skillful in "Revision". She made the customer-service lady "Revision" in-charge of the whole store for a part of her day and customer - service for another part of the day.
In the end, the Manager got the best of both her employees and set them up for future growth within the organization and in their careers ahead.
Having such talented leaders at the helm, it's therefore no surprise that Walgreens features as a "Good to Great" company in Jim Collin's book as well.
Jim Collins also explains the principle of "Genius with a Thousand Helpers". A leader that is a genius drives a successful company, but after they leave the company , it cannot sustain because the "helpers" haven't been empowered or imparted the "elixir of success" to carry the company forward after their departure. Contrast this to a "Great" company where the Leader assembles a team of superior executives during their tenure, with effective succession planning to carry on their Legacy and their good work.
In my experience, Harvesting Home Grown Talent has several advantages:-
Harvesting Home Grown Talent also requires the following :-
Bill Gates identified the first three qualities above in Satya Nadella and by his virtue of possessing the fourth quality above and being intimately aware of Satya's work , determined that there was no better successor to him than Satya.
Has Harvesting Home Grown Talent setup Microsoft for success? Only time will tell but the respect shown and the opportunity given is commendable nevertheless .
(image courtesy :- greeningofgavin.com)
Picture a sports team. The team has just lost the all important final match of a tournament and the fans are disappointed. The captain steps up for the runner's up trophy and whilst congratulating the team that put up an excellent performance throughout the tournament, graciously accepts that the team did not perform to it's full potential and needs a lot of improvement before the next season.
The captain also points out the exact areas where they were at fault and the desire to work hard on their weaknesses and the promise to live up to the expectations of their fans. Fantastic ! They have told it like it is , it's honest and it's from the heart.
The management of the sports club promptly acts on all the feedback, constructive or destructive , makes some leadership changes, improves training and invests in the well being of the players and soon enough , in the next season , this team wins the tournament.
Telling it like it is, has led to a complete turn around of the sports team for the better.
Unfortunately , Telling it like it is , doesn't necessarily permeate into corporates and firms which are essentially big teams of performers, just like a team sport.
Just like the management of a sports team is judged on it's performance, every year or season, the management of a company is judged by it's employees through surveys. It is encouraged that the employees provide an honest, unbiased opinion of various facets of their work , with emphasis on leadership. They are also promised anonymity and frank disclosure of survey results, besides the promise to "act" on the results of the survey.
After-all, it's good leadership and direction that will propel the teams to achieve their objectives, year after year and will keep the employee motivated to perform to their optimum potential.
Many employees open up and provide honest feedback , especially on leadership because they still believe, just like the promises made by our politicians, that their "votes" and "feedback" count.
To the defense of senior management , they don't always get it right. Therefore , surveys are a best opportunity for them to see -
The results arrive and the top level management sees some of the "brutally honest " comments put forward by their employees. There is a lot of "useful" ideas, which if implemented correctly
But, as expected, the distilling of the results begins and what ends up being presented to the horrified and , at the same time, amused employees is a very watered down version of the actual situation. There's a token recognition of a couple of areas where the firm performed better than last year and where it was worse.
The reports presented, somehow always show that the results are not that bad and that the management is doing it's "job" efficiently.
When the time comes for the management to act upon the feedback, the employees observe that a fraction of it is implemented in a very diluted form and whispers are rife in the corridors. In the end what remains is the age old question - "What's the use?"
(image courtesty : quotesgram.com )