Recognise This! – HR priorities are many. Solving one can be the solution to many others.

Concluding my week-long series on the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from the Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll, is a tie!

Priority 5 for HR in 2011: A Tie! — Improving Employee Performance, Workforce Planning, Improving Strategic Effectiveness of HR

Improving Employee Performance
has a lot to do with management of the company culture itself. Two research studies on this topic seem to contradict each other. The first argues changing culture is hard because it’s “sacred.” If you break culture down into climate, and then into habits, change becomes easier because are more willing to change habits. Based on brain science, the second study argues habits are, in fact, hard to change because doing so is actually painful, requiring a conscious override of “deeply comfortable neuronal circuitry. But (and this is a critical point I think the first researcher would also agree with):

    “Therefore, to engender change among people in an organisation, it’s important to keep attention focussed on the desired end state, not on avoiding problems. This goal-directed positive reinforcement must take place over and over. The most effective way to achieve this is to set up practices and processes that make it easy for people to do the right thing until it becomes not only second nature, but an ethic taken to heart (and to the brain) by the entire company.”

Managing goals has just as much to do with improving employee performance. An HBR blog pointed out:

    “For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organisational ambitions. … No matter what level the employee is at, he should be able to articulate exactly how his efforts feed into the broader company strategy.”

Articulating goals and strategy and appropriately recognising those who achieve the goals is all well and good for improving employee performance, but that requires retaining key employees, which is likely why Workforce Planning is of equal concern to HR pros. The Corporate Leadership Council says 27% of high potential employees plus another 20% of non-high potentials are actively planning to leave their jobs in the next six months. An Accenture survey found 30% were ready to switch employers. More concerning is results from an American Psychological Association survey showing just over half of employees feel valued on the job. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want higher pay. Only 43% said they receive adequate recognition for their contributions at work.

Solving this last challenge would help dramatically in Improving the Strategic Effectiveness of the HR. As discussed in my Monday post, CEOs don’t see the performance and ROI benefit of employee engagement and employee recognition. The two are closely linked. My CEO, Eric Mosley, explained this well in an article in last month’s Chief Executive magazine:

    “If recognition is implemented in a strategic way, it gives senior management a new window into the health of the organisation. Acting as a barometer for engagement and employee performance, companies can monitor how often recognition occurs as well as in which divisions, geographies and teams. … The link between prolonged neglect of consistent recognition and deteriorating company health is not always realised — the focus is on productivity rather than on what LEADS to productivity (i.e., happy, fulfilled employees who are fully engaged in their work).”

Can you prove the value of what you do to bottom-line?

Prior posts on 2011 Top HR Priorities

Priority 1: Improving Senior Leader Capabilities at Managing the Workforce
Priority 2: Improving Manager Capabilities at Managing Their Direct Reports
Priority 3: Engaging Employees
Priority 4: Managing Organisational Change