We believe that the implications of our findings highlight some key topics which are important to all organisations and these are discussed in the rest of this section. Some recommendations are also included.
What to do?
However, there is still more to be done around the challenges and a few of these are noted below:
- Work/life balance and resilience
- Leadership – in particular a shortfall with regard to development and the need for more communication
- More support for virtual team working (as well as more general support for managers)
- The need for a better alignment of individual and organisational approaches to motivation
- Trust is particularly relevant in the current business and political environment.
4 key areas which make the difference
The four key areas which stand out in our survey findings are topics which we think make the difference between mediocre organisations and those organisations which regularly impress and out-perform their competitors, namely:
1. How well organisations design, develop and deliver change initiatives
A significant ingredient in any change recipe is ensuring managers have the skills to lead change.
2. Lukewarm leadership invariably leads to lukewarm change
The importance of people issues – such as motivation, employee engagement and trust – and whether these are valued by the organisation. For example are people issues discussed in the same way as the senior team discuss business and strategy issues? The catch-phrase ‘our people are our greatest asset’ is not heard so much these days but it captures what’s at the heart of this issue – does the organisation support, coach and mentor staff to deliver the best possible performance? Is there a culture which values learning and development and an understanding of the positive impact it has upon financial bottom line results?
3. The quality of leadership within the organisation
- Is coaching an integral part of the manager’s role?
- Are leaders listening and communicating with their staff?
- Do leaders model behaviour for others?
- Do they walk the talk?
This also includes issues of organisational trust – top leaders have a good deal of the responsibility for creating a strong culture of trust within a business and creating a place where integrity and respect are strong values. Although levels are generally high – just over half of respondents say there is a strong culture of trust in their organisation – this means there are a considerable number who do not feel the same way. We asked respondents to tell us what’s important in building trust and their comments highlight a number of practical issues:
- Integrity on the part of senior managers and demonstrating this by ‘walking the talk’
- Honesty and transparency
- Communication, consultation
- Empowering staff to take on more responsibility, and enabling this by showing them trust and respect. Autonomy is also highlighted in the survey findings with regard to motivation.
4. The role of the manager within the organisation
Managers should be at the heart of every organisation and a key question is:
- What level of support and help do they receive?
- Do they have sufficient resources in order to do their job?
- Is there a good relationship between top leaders and managers at all levels across the business and do managers regularly receive praise and positive recognition for a job ‘well done’?
These standard well-known questions are often used to assess levels of commitment and morale but they also provide a practical framework to review the working environment for managers. It is also useful to think about what it’s like for managers who are working in more negative environments.
They may not be able to count on the support of their boss, their boss’s boss who perhaps is too busy or simply not interested in their ‘problems’. Some may feel overworked and undervalued, in ‘fire-fighting’ mode, stressed and under lots of pressure on a daily basis. For others it may seem like they are at the bottom of the food chain – with little freedom, receiving lots of commands but with limited or no information about the ‘big picture’ context that’s so important.