17 October 2008

Organisational Values

Values. Loaded word! Everyone talks about values like they are some fancy designer label. What do values have to do with an organisation's business success and impact on the bottom line?

Let me cite a relevant quote from Peter Drucker, one of the most respected Management gurus of our time, "Yes, I'll do that. But this is the way I should be doing it. This is the way it should be structured. This is the way my relationships should be. These are the kinds of results you should expect from me, and in this time frame, because this is who I am." (The Essential Drucker, pg.224, Peter F. Drucker, HarperCollins, 2008) Now substitute the words "I" and "me" with "our organisation" and therein lies the source of organisational values.

I offer you some realistic, practical channels for discovering values that are already present in your organisation you might want to make yourself aware of to tap into unused potential, and help you create a value-system to enhance what is already there:

1. Values arise out of what the organisation desires for itself in business, sustainability, its people, and for a perceived image in the eyes of the external world.

2. Values in an organisation get constructed through behavior and actions of its members, what the top management decides to focus on and decides to ignore, and external factors including competitors, societal culture, legal requirements, and resource availability.

3. For values to remain genuine, they must be reflected in company culture, HR practices, workplace norms, internal and external relationships, strategic business plans, and in a vision that clearly shows where and what the company desires to be.

4. Values in an organisation are based on assumptions made by the top management. These assumptions need to be tested and questioned continuously by top management as they steer the organisational ship.

5. For a value to be considered great, each value must reflect a vision to achieve, a reality-check while executing goals, an ethical standard of behavior, and the courage to act. This is probably the most important definition of "value" which I get from studying the work of Dr. Peter Koestenbaum and his Leadership Diamond Model®.

Everybody understands that the motive for every for-profit organisation at the end of the day is the business of making money. What do these lofty ideals in the name of values have to do with this? You don't have to look too far, when we have the current financial crisis at our doorsteps. Most of the institutions that created this mess lacked any sense of core values. They operated on a vision but chose to ignore reality, ethics, and their courage to act was based on this faulty vision. They did too much, too soon, without any concept of individual responsibility or consequence. If values don't drive your organisation, it is impossible to achieve a distinction in the market and stand out in this competitive world, because you would not be standing up for "who you are".

I have been approached to create a value-system for an organisation in an upcoming assignment, and here's how I broadly propose to do that:

I. Assessment of the organisation's future and current strengths, influence of external uncontrollable factors, what the organisation wants to be for its customer and society.

II. The organisation must discover what values are shared between management and employees at all levels.

III. Alignment of management and employee values by creating awareness, acceptance, and link common values to the organisation's business strategy.

IV. Cascading of value-system to processes, systems, and workflow so that they are reflected in the organisation's culture.

09 October 2008

Training Needs Analysis

Dear readers, I haven't blogged for a while and I'm sorry about that! I've been super busy doing exciting projects in the OD arena, plus working on a second business venture at the moment. For the curious followers of my blog, by popular demand I've finally decided to offer my paintings for sale, something I've resisted with my heart in the past.

Here is another topic dear to my heart and mind, related to my current consulting assignment: Training Needs Analysis. Tell me how many organisations especially here in the UAE budget for a Training and Development System and find out that it is simply failing to improve overall employee job performance. Now I've always believed that failures are opportunities for real success, but most organisations do not act on this principle. Instead of getting to the root of low job performance, many Companies act impulsively and "hire and fire" their people, hoping they will get the right person at the right competence level for the right job.

I have news for you. There is a more scientific way to ensure this happens, without relying on chance or luck! It's called a Training Needs Analysis, and it will tell you what critical knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors required on the job are missing in your employees. This enables the organisation to take sustained action toward the development of their employees and maximize their potential and performance. Here's how I would do a Training Needs Analysis. These are broad steps only, so please contact me for specific step-by-step details if you are interested to learn more! The story starts with what the organisation as a whole needs, desires, and has.

1. Conduct an Organisational Analysis that will examine system-wide components of the organisation that may affect the design and effectiveness of a Training and Development System. This would include the following activities:
- Specifying organisational goals
- Determining the organisational training climate
- Identifying external constraints
- Assessing organisational resources available for training

2. Conduct a Requirements Analysis based on results of the Organisational Analysis. This will determine the specific scope of the TNA based on organisational goals in terms of identifying and selecting the following:
- Priority job groups and target jobs in all departments
- Existing documentation and data on priority jobs
- High-performing and high-potential employees
- Participants and subject-matter experts (SMEs) for the Job Analysis phase
- Appropriate method and protocol to be used for the Job Analysis phase
- Points of contact that will assist in administrative support as a liaison team
- Challenges that could hinder subsequent phases of the project

3. Conduct Job Analyses for priority and target job groups. The Job Analyses will examine job content in terms of the following:
- Work activities performed on the job
- How frequently tasks are performed
- How critical are the tasks to job performance
- How easy/difficult it is to learn critical work activities
- What knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors are essential for each task

4. Conduct a Person Analysis with subject-matter experts (SMEs). This phase assesses gaps between high-performance indicators and current employee performance in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that are essential for success on the job. The following are intended results:
- Developing performance indicators for target jobs
- Determining gaps in knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors (KSAs) in your employees
- Creating approaches to resolve the KSA gaps

The Training Needs Analysis is just one component of a successful Training and Development System in an organisation. Once you know what your employees need in terms of training, training programs need to be designed to meet those needs. This is again a very meticulous process as it needs to take into account learning theory and instructional methods. Post training, programs need to be evaluated for how effective they have been in helping employees meet their performance objectives. So the story does not finish with a Training Needs Analysis! But I've given you a start, and here are just some of the reasons why this first and foremost step is so important:

- A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) helps an organisation examine whether its current training system is developing relevant competencies needed to perform a job, and focusing on skills that are hard to learn on the job.

- Designing job-relevant, accurate, and reliable post-training assessment instruments would be more valid if it they are based on the results of a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). The information obtained from a TNA provides input into designing performance-appraisal instruments to test trainees at the end of training.

- Results from a job and task analysis, which is part of the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) process, will provide significant value in designing employee selection tests such as Assessment Centers. It is important for an organisation’s employee selection process to identify and hire employees with competencies required to perform the specific job, and this in turn affects how training programs are designed based on what knowledge, skills, and abilities hired employees already have.

- A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) gives input on whether the organisation has the resources at its disposal, and the necessary climate and environment for making a training program as effective as possible so that the trainee applies what is learned.

- Data from a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) directly impacts how training programs are designed, what instructional method is used, and why different learning methods may be required for diverse employees.

So before you hire and fire, consider what you as an organisation might be able to provide that your employees are missing.

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