By Edwin O’ Hora
At present, we are (for the most part) observing signs of significant recovery in the economy and companies are back in a comparatively healthy position versus that of even five years ago.
With this in mind, now is a great time to ask yourself as a business — what do we need to do to make sure we stay relevant and competitive in the market.
Of course, strategy is central. The ability to conceptualise strategically and then make the correct choices on the back of this is fundamental to running a great business.
However, implementing strategy and bringing your staff with you on this journey is arguably harder.
I feel sometimes that organisational design doesn’t really get the plaudits that it deserves.
It’s not one of these sexy areas like culture where we seem to be constantly seeing new content and where everyone has an opinion and isn’t shy about sharing it.
I like to use the word ‘configuration’ as I think it better captures the sense of what a company needs to do to achieve strategy (right people in the right roles at the right times in an organisation that’s configured correctly to achieve its goals).
Design sometimes sounds like you need to pick the right ‘shape’ from a menu of options and then things automatically go the right way — this is a complete misnomer.
Stanford (2015) outlines some very solid advice for considering organisational design and configuration:
Also, organisations struggle desperately to distinguish between people and roles. In any design conversation — the role needs to have primacy.
We shouldn’t be talking about ‘Mary’s job’ or ‘John’s job’ rather the role title — this can be difficult when people have long standing relationships with role holders.
Bringing people with you: One of the core principles of organisation development is dialogic communication — the ability to interact with and ‘hear’ people.
Increasingly, this is a central facet of ‘employee engagement’ which seems to be regularly featured in business pages as being central to organisations ability to achieve.
This is not about endless dialogue — it is merely about the ability to interact intelligently with employees.
It is always surprising to hear organisations be surprised by the fact that ‘its easier for people to change when we speak to them and, you know, all we had to do was talk to them — it wasn’t rocket science’.
The ability to engage meaningfully with your workforce is something that is hugely beneficial when your business landscape is challenged but this ability is fostered over years of credible interactions.
It’s never a bad time to work on your engagement ability with your staff — least of all when everything else is going well.
Edwin O’ Hora is the programme director for the IMI Diploma in Organisational Development and Transformation.
Edwin works with a range of clients in different sectors in the areas of growing organisations, making them scalable and developing and sustaining high performance.