Jack Welsh, the former GE Chief Executive, stated recently that Human Resources should be every company’s ‘killer app’. What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted or moved out the door? After all business is a game, and as with all games, the team who puts the best people on the field and gets them playing together, wins. It’s that simple!
According to Jack, this rarely is the case, though, looking at companies today where the Chief Financial Officer reigns supreme and the HR manger is relegated to the background. According to Jack this doesn’t make sense. If you owned Manchester United for instance would you hang around with the team accountant or the director of player personnel? Sure the accountant can tell you the financials. But the director of player knows what takes to win i.e. how each player is doing and where to find strong recruits to fill the weak positions.
That is what HR should be all about, but in reality how often is this not the case and is HR the Cinderella of the company forgotten in the basement.
As owner / manager there are a number of simple things you can do to improve on this situation. You should review your team regularly. Starting with your management team, review them and ask yourself: ’How is this particular team member contributing to the bottom line and what has he / she specifically done over the last twelve months which stands out’. If nothing comes to mind ask yourself why this is so. If you have two or more management team members where nothing specific comes to mind, ask yourself what does it say about me and my company.
Then look at the performance of all your staff and ask yourself who are in the top ten percent and who are in the bottom ten percent. I bet you can easily identify your worst employees, the ones who always give problems and are regularly in the limelight for the wrong reasons. In a bigger company it is more difficult to identify the top ten percent of your staff. But you should be able to come up with these names fairly quickly. If I asked you who are the best players of the football team you support you would be able to name them straight away!
The most important question after you have identified them is how are you treating them, what signals are you sending out to your staff. If for instance your worst staff members all have clean records – no warnings under the disciplinary procedure have been given to them at all you are making it extremely easy for them to keep messing around. “One can do anything here and get away with it!”
However, more important is what you have done with your top ten percent, the ones who go the extra mile for the company. Do they know that you have identified them and appreciate them? Do you have plans to further develop them and that you are going to invest in them?
Also are other employees aware that you have identified your best players and that you are seen to appreciate them, because most likely employees know what they have done for your company and how you have treated them. Staff do consider how you take care of your excellent and worst staff members and based on that information decide what kind of company they are working for.
If you have done this exercise and know how your management and staff operate give yourself a pat on the back. However, if you tried and find it difficult to come up with the names and achievements you need to think about this and find out who they are and what they have done. Then maybe you should think about a performance management system which can help you out.