“Stack Ranking” an impediment to Human Resources?

The article below, entitled 'Can Bad Human Resource Practices Kill a Company?' may be one of the most important reads this week.  If human resources departments are increasingly losing employees’ trust, companies may be at risk of losing one of their most precious assets - their people.
Human Resource practices such as 'stack ranking', which have been around for decades and are widely used in South Africa, are increasingly coming under fire.  The merit-based scale may seem good in theory but if it is causing dissension, distrust and potentially unfair labour practices, perhaps it is time to re-think how to evaluate and manage the performance of employees.
The article focuses primarily on trends in the US and Ireland, but the HR practices in question are sure to impact on South African companies in much the same way.  Is there a uniquely South African solution that could emerge?  We would love to hear your thoughts. 

Trouble in paradise - why your employees may be making plans to leave you

Do you feel like your employees have fallen 'out of love' with the organisation?  We have summarised a few points on why they’re just not that into you

1.  They haven't been given the opportunity to buy into your vision - they are not inspired 

2. Even if they do know the bigger picture, they are not sure of how they can best contribute and how their daily responsibilities feed into the broader vision  

3. The 'why' - what the broader vision is and how your employees can contribute to it is not enough, they also need to understand why they are a part of it and why they should care

Five ways to become the leader your team needs

In today’s competitive business environment, a great team is essential in ensuring an organisation’s success in achieving its business goals.  A great team leader can be the difference between having a motivated team that works together well or a fragmented team of individuals all pulling in different directions. As Mark Sanborn, a leadership development coach, points out, there are not many natural born leaders, but many team leaders train themselves by learning from others and through personal experience, in order to improve their team leadership skills.

Richard Stengel’s book Mandela’s Way – Lessons of Life illustrates Mandela’s leadership style:  “Leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in a certain direction – usually through changing the direction of their thinking and their actions.  This is not necessarily done by charging out front and saying “Follow me”, but by empowering or pushing others to move forward ahead of you.  It is through empowering others that we impart our own leadership and ideas.”

So how do you become a better leader?  In addition to reading Mandela’s Way (a great read – highly recommended), here are a few more things to consider to help you on your way:

Be the perfect barometer to your team

As a team leader, it is up to you to ensure that your organisational values are reflected in your actions.  The way you treat people is a barometer to your team, so it is unacceptable to expect your team to treat your clients with respect and to adhere to the highest service standards if you don’t treat your staff in the same way.  Simply lead by example!

Love Lost Between Business Leaders and HR Leaders

The traditional role of HR within an organisation is often defined as “managing the employees within a company, who collectively contribute to the achievement of the company’s strategic objectives”. It is the individual people who make up an organisation and contribute to its success.  HR assists the organisation by attracting new employees, developing the skills required to meet the organisation’s goals, and ultimately creating a loyal and motivated workforce. 

It is therefore a concern to learn that a recent study from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), revealed that “44% of business leaders think that HR fail ‘to address the operational issues facing the organisation and 52% think that HR prioritise what matters to HR over wider organisation issues.   Just 27% of business leaders believe the HR function helps their organisation to become more flexible and agile, while a large proportion of business leaders have no opinion about HR’s contribution to the business”.

This clearly shows that HR departments need to promote their value to business leaders with facts and figures to re-ignite business leaders’ recognition of their contribution! In today’s less than tolerant business world, it is not enough for an HR department to assume that they are OK because they ‘hire and fire’ the employees that make up the business.

Great leaders are also great listeners

We’re constantly reminded of the importance of great communication skills when it comes to effective leadership. Most of the time we associate effective communication with the ability to convey a message accurately, but what about the equally important aspect of communication which relates to receiving messages well? 

Below is an article entitled, The most overlooked leadership skill, in which Strategic Advisor Peter Bregman poses the question whether receptive communication skills are in fact the most overlooked leadership skill in today’s business environment.  When you consider that everyone, no matter whether they are the CEO or a junior employee, needs constant evaluation and constructive performance analysis in order to grow, it would be difficult not to agree with him. Often it’s our greatest weaknesses which leave us blind-sided, we need others to come alongside us and point them out for us, because it’s only when we are able to identify and recognise these weaknesses that we can become stronger and truly excel.     

For those in a leadership capacity, their ability to identify and address weaknesses, both in themselves and the business at large, will be reflected in the success or failure of the entire company. Hence, leaders who know how to receive messages properly – truly listening to what they are hearing and critically assessing what is being said without becoming defensive – are leaders who truly know how to use effective communication skills in order to grow their business.