DR MARIJN DEKKERS, CHAIRMAN OF BAYER, AG, was quoted in the 2012 CEO Survey conducted annually by PWC, as saying, “What is interesting and what is changing is that among Western companies, the ability to hire, develop, and retain talent in the developing economies has become a major point of competitive differentiation.”
HR, it appears, is now critical to even the largest organisation is critical to success. However, many organisations are losing ground to the competition because their HR are participating in ‘box ticking’ behaviour.
…many organisations are losing ground to the competition because their HR are participating in ‘box ticking’ behaviour
So where does China rank in the developing world? The good news is that according to Mercer’s 2011 ‘What’s Working’ survey, China’s highest factor for engagement and motivation at work was ‘The quality of leadership of the organization’. The global average for the same category was 5th. That means that in China, strong leadership effects morale more-so than other countries. Additionally, China ranked ‘Learning and Developmental Opportunities’ as fourth, compared to other Asian Countries Singapore (9th), India (10th), and a global average of 10th. This means that China is a country full of individuals hungry to learn, and ready for the leadership team, through the support of HR, to get them there.
However, there is bad news. HR and learning and development roles in the organisation, specifically in China, aren’t moving quickly enough. Included in Mercer’s survey were answers about critical performance factors in specific countries. When CEOs were asked if talent constraints had limited growth and profitability the following answers were given:
In order to overcome these significant gaps in talent, Chinese organisations should view development through a three lens approach: Engagement, Environment and Capacity.
Staff morale, motivation, loyalty, employee satisfaction; it goes by many names. But it boils down to one simple question, “Do your employees enjoy coming to work?”
… it boils down to one simple question, “Do your employees enjoy coming to work?”
Gallup Chief Scientist, Jim Harter PhD, sees the problem of engagement as follows, “Many organisations measure either the wrong things, or too many things, or don’t make the data intuitively actionable. Many don’t make engagement a part of their overall strategy, or clarify why employee engagement is important, or provide quality education to help managers know what to do with the results, and in what order.”
Sounds like Dr. Harter is alluding to a box ticking culture. Engagement surveys and data are collected, but then no connection is made to change or amend the behaviour through the two other lenses mentioned below.
Two years ago during our own internal team building, we conducted a values poll. Participants were given a list of over 20 values to choose from and rank them in order of importance. Many of my Chinese colleagues ranked ‘Environment’ as the most important value. Living in Beijing, I was a little shocked, as I couldn’t reconcile the importance so many of them placed on the environment with the day-to-day pollution rates often well beyond the Air Quality Index (AQI) highest limit. It wasn’t until I dug further, asking how they defined environment that it became clear. My Chinese colleagues didn’t adhere to a ‘rivers and forest’ definition of the environment like I had, and instead viewed it as the interpersonal relationships with their family, friends and co-workers.
Poor quality management and policies that are detrimental to KPIs are also part of an organisation’s environment.
When I enter a multinational organisation, I will ask about the values on the wall, and then in a hushed voice ask what the “real values” are. What behaviours are rewarded, how well are the managements values aligned with staff, and are managers promoted on knowledge competency, or leadership potential?
Not everyone is equal. Not everyone is capable. We are unique and that’s okay. Capacity is the ability of individuals combined with the potential to grow this ability. Think of two glasses; one half filled and the other only 25% filled. If these glasses represented a metaphor for potential employees, who would you employ? Half full, or only a quarter full?
It’s a trick question! We are missing a key piece of information. Are the glasses the same size? Or could the 25% full glass be twice the size of that which is half filled. If so, hiring the 25% candidate would make more sense.
Building this awareness in staff within your organisation will make individuals stronger and more confident in their own abilities, and create a better understanding of how individuals can use their strengths to contribute to a team and an organisation. Unfortunately when I start coaching sessions with the simple question, “What are you good at?”, I’m predictably met with a long period of silence. I find that many individuals are waiting to be told what to be good at, rather than proactively assert and cultivate their inherent abilities. We as developmental specialists need to help raise our staff’s awareness of what they are good at. This will lead to more confident individuals and more people engaged in the work that they are doing.
In order to overcome the talent bottleneck, that is so obvious, and tap into the pool of highly motivated individuals within the talent pool, organisations must stop the ‘box ticking’ activities, and rely on a more holistic approach to development. The confluence of these three key lens will ensure that your organisation grows and, as Dr. Dekkers states, allow your HR execution and strategy to “become a major point of competitive differentiation.”