Context : The organization works with a lot of, relatively small, subsidiaries. The central HR department manages the Performance Management Process (classical evaluation procedure, based on a yearly interview, personal objectives, linked to bonuses,…).
Business Issue : The evaluation procedure has become a merely ‘administrative process’ which is not anymore driving people’s behavior and performance and has lost all credibility in the organization. More than 50 percent of the employees do not get feedback on their performance. Most of them have not even individual objectives.
Initial Request : Can you propose a different evaluation format.
Consulting Process / Intervention :
- After having analyzed the existing situation through several focus groups with most of the stakeholders (HQ management, HR, managers subsidiaries, employees, labor union representatives) the following issues occurred :
- The fact that all subsidiaries had the same centrally decided objectives, made it difficult for the subsidiaries to develop and ‘entrepreneurial attitude’
- Subsidiaries were subsequently mere ‘mailboxes’ of the decisions and interventions of central and regional managers, which lead to a very ‘passive’ attitude from most subsidiary managers
- The performance data did not provide very specific feedback, which meant that the employees of the subsidiaries had no clear idea of their contribution to performance in the organization. (they didn’t see the relationship between what and how they did things and good or bad results for the organization)
- The individual objectives were rarely linked to the business objectives, but were ‘invented’ because we need to be able to ‘evaluate’.
- After the analysis, again with several focus groups as input, a mixed (customer / consultant) design team developed a new process that was based on the following principles :
- Not focus on evaluation but on ‘performance improvement’
- Create a cycle of events through which each subsidiary as a team (lead by their own manager) : creates an accurate image of their actual performance (SWOT); sets ‘subsidiary’ objectives; makes a team plan to get their; contracts on the individual contribution to the team. The cycle included also regular ‘follow-up’ meetings to assess progress and adapt the action plan where necessary.
- The focus in those team activities was not only on ‘business objectives’ but also on the process of working and learning as a team.
- Underneath that team process, we developed an individual coaching process, through which the subsidiary manager coaches the individuals that report to him, in terms of their personal development and how they can achieve the contracted contribution to the team and the business.The implementation of all this was supported through
- An internal team of facilitators that helped the subsidiary managers to start off this process. These facilitators were trained to use the job-aids and coach and support the managers
- Introductory training for all managers
- Individual coaching by Move! where necessary (as a supplement for the internal facilitation)
- A Toolkit with scenarios of the different team meetings (SWOT meeting, planning meeting, review meeting, …), job-aids, ideas of team activities, formats, etc…
RESULTS & IMPACT:
- A clearly different role and attitude of subsidiary managers (more proactive / entrepreneurial)
- More transparent contribution of subsidiaries to the business objectives
- A far better link between real results, individual objectives, reward
- Team cohesion
- Ownership was felt for the performance of the organization
- An increased knowledge and insight in the business / performance / customer satisfaction by all employees (including operators in the shops)
- This process was generally recognized as a very powerful and innovative way to go about performance management. Internally management took ownership for this process, the group recognized it as a best practice and the organization was awarded the “People Development Award” by Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Great Place to Work research).
Context & Issues
In the organization a number of sugar and alcohol plants come together. Traditionally those plants were very independently run and had their own industrial policies as well as safety, environment and quality processes and practices.
A few years ago, Cristal Union decided to create a number of centralized functions in order to create a more coherent industrial strategy group wide. One of those functions is the Quality, Safety and Environment Department, headed up by a QSE director and staffed with a small central team that was charged to develop a common policy across the different plants of the group.
Our Analysis of the issue
It was obvious that it would be very difficult to roll out a policy that would be centrally decided and forced upon the formerly independent plants. Moreover, one of the reasons for centralizing QSE policy was also to allow for ‘cross group learning’ in such a way that all plants could profit from a number of interesting practices or experiments that some plants were putting in place.
So our analysis was, that we should not so much go for a ‘centralized developed policy’ that then subsequently had to be rolled out (or shoved down their throat), but that we would need a process that allowed for learning by working together on a ‘shared policy’, result of collaborative work of all plants and the HQ, without predefined ‘outcomes’ or ‘hidden’ agenda’s.
The intervention process
So we decided to create a ‘learning network’ (or a Community of Practice) consisting off all QSE managers of the different plants and the central QSE plant. This group would come together every six week for a ‘network day’.
The objectives were :
- Learning from each other
- Create common / shared projects on common problems or challenges
- Develop an ‘overarching’ strategy for QSE
- Follow-up of the strategic QSE plans / projects
- Share information in all directions
It started mainly the few first meetings to get to know each other, sharing information on projects that were going on in different plant, start working on the SAP implementation, … Gradually we also started to prepare the mid-term strategy plan and the yearly ‘common’ objectives for the activity QSE.
After a few meetings we decided to open up once a year our network and invite the roughly 60 employees working in the QSE area in the plants. The activities that we did during those ‘open network days’ were largely prepared by the different plants and piloted by the QSE managers of the plants. Another step was made when we started to ‘outsource’ the preparation and facilitation of the meeting to individual ‘plants’ thus giving them (instead of the HQ Team) the responsibility over the meeting and installing the idea of mutual interdependence between the plants.
Specific methodologies used: Force Field Analysis, Intervision, experiential games, projects-fair, specific workshops in subgroups, etc…
It is difficult to say that the QSE strategy as such is better, then would have been the case when elaborated by the HQ team, but what we can say is that there was a genuine input from all plants into the new strategy, the yearly objectives were very much considered to be ‘shared objectives’ and we also saw growing collaboration between plants (within the network, but also other initiatives started where plants shared information, or supported each other’s projects, etc… An obvious outcome was also that the divide between plants and between ‘the plants’ and ‘HQ’ was a lot less pronounced after a few months and the energy and initiative gradually shifted from the HQ to the network as a ‘shared governing body’.
Another outcome that inevitably was realized was the fact that individual initiatives of plants were far more coherent and fitted in the shared ‘strategy’ and were often already discussed in the network in a very early stage which allowed to pull together competencies and resources out of the network for the plant projects.
Due to rapid growth and acquisitions, the Corporate University wanted to decentralize its integration program for Managers. We developed an Instructional Toolkit that could be used by the Business units to deliver those programs locally and we trained a group of local facilitators to use the instructional material and design. In China the first two groups of facilitators were trained and are actually using the kit to set up their integration process.
Context : A large international Industrial group is in a process of continuous acquisition of smaller and larger Business Units all over the world. One of the consequences is that there middle and higher management population grows significantly.
Business Issue : The organization indicated a clear need for an ‘integration workshop’ that could be organized locally’, because the centrally organized integration program could not cope with such numbers of new managers, but more importantly a large part of the ‘target population’ didn’t possess the necessary proficiency in English to participate in an international program.
Initial Request : Create an instructional toolkit for local training managers to organize a decentralized integration program
Consulting Process / Intervention :
- Interviews and meetings with the ‘Corporate University’ and the local Business units to define the objectives
- See and feel they are part of a ‘larger picture’: some understanding of the structure, international position and business lines of the organization
- Understand the key values and principles of the organization:
- Focus on strategy and projects in the unit as part of the worldwide group strategy
- Examine how they, in their role, in their work environment can contribute to the challenges, values and principles of the organization and take a commitment to do that.
- In close collaboration with the corporate university, we created a 2 day integration program with a mix of activities (experiential games, case studies, action plans,…) and key messages.
- We created an Instructional toolkit for the local trainers so they could prepare and organize the program locally. The instructional toolkit consisted out of a well written scenario, material lists, a guide to adapt the program to their local needs and possibilities, information and checklists for the logistics.
- We facilitated a Train-the-Trainer for a group of local trainers from different BU’s who would use the Instructional Toolkit for the first time. The objectives where to:
- Trainers see through the ‘overall structure’ of the program and understand the objectives and why those objectives have been translated into this particular instructional process.
- Trainers demonstrate the facilitation skills necessary to facilitate a workshop
- Trainers find their way in the instructional toolkit and can easily use the scenario’s, handouts and job-aids provided
RESULTS & IMPACT
- Multiple local integration programs have taken place, organized by the local Business Unit
- New managers who could not participate the centralized integration program are able to go to a local integration program
- New local managers feel part of a bigger structure from the start of their career
Process Consulting for a major ‘business strategy development’ project where we focused on involving all stakeholders from the beginning. Objective was to bring out all available expertise and experience and to mobilize all stakeholders for the successful implementation of the business strategy.
Context : In a large organization, a small business unit, was planning to set up a ‘strategy development’ process.
Business Issue : This business unit was responsible for a business, although recognized as core business by the organization, it was very small compared to the ‘lead activity’ of the organization. (4 percent market share, where the overall organization had like 20 percent market share). From their own analysis they became aware that they needed a ‘new strategy’ for their (sub)-business in order to create support in the bigger organization for their development plans.
Initial Request : Facilitate our ‘management team’ off-site day, were we want to create that new strategy for our department.
Consulting Process / Intervention : Our initial discussions with the director (customer/initiator) were focused on the impact the new strategy needed to have and the conditions for it to be successfully implemented. After being challenged on ‘why this time the strategy would work’, knowing that a few times already they reformulated their strategy without success, the awareness grew that we needed to involve, from the very beginning all stakeholders.
We decided to use the planned offsite, not to ‘wordsmith a strategy’ but to build the ‘process’ through which we could involve all stakeholders. Some of the activities of that off-site included :
- A SWOT analysis of our department and business today
- Awareness on why we needed to involve stakeholders :
- Because they needed approve the strategy and free up necessary budgets to fund the new projects
- Because they were ‘key players’ in the implementation (here we talked mainly about the people in the department but also the distributors who had to be behind the strategy in order to build it in towards the customers
- Because they had information, expertise or experience that we needed in order to be able to make solid and wise choices in our business strategy
- Stakeholder analysis
- Develop a process to address those stakeholders and bring the information together.
From this one day off-site a number of initiatives sprang :
- interviews and focus groups with stakeholders facilitated by the management team members
- sharing that data with the own employees
- Large Group Interventions including all staff in order to brainstorm on how the ‘expectations’ of the internal customer could be met
- Internally lead improvement projects on the issues identified during the Large Group Intervention
This process was largely done by the people of the organization. We as consultants supported that through :
- Job-aids for the stakeholder activities (interviews, focus groups, data gathering)
- Coaching of the director
- Design of the large group intervention
- Train 8 internal facilitators for the large group intervention
- Facilitate meetings
Results & impact :
Where initially some resistance was expected by the management team from the stakeholders, their reaction was actually very positive and they welcomed the initiative. They were surprised by the ‘demarche’ and pleased that they were listened to (in stead of bombarded by ‘plans’)
A lot of ‘participation’ of staff of the department. A lot of people volunteered to take on a facilitator role in the Large group interventions, took the lead of a workgroup, etc… (the gamble not to ask management, or even worse the consultant, to do that paid off)
A long list of ‘small’ improvements, brought together by staff, that increased immediately the internal customer satisfaction (the implementation was kept very simple, and done immediately, without difficult and impressive plans)
The intervention also gave way to a larger reflection on ‘strategy’ but also ‘how to mobilize stakeholders and in particular our distribution network, in other business unit.
Although taking place in the midst of a severe economical crisis, the intervention allowed focusing on improvement and keeping a ‘positive’ drive in the organization. The business results were ‘better’ then expected and the impact of the process was recognized by the organization.
The visibility of this ‘small’ business was rapidly improved (from the very beginning), what finally resulted in budget that was allocated in order to improve the ICT support to that business unit.
- develop a culture of experiential and dialogic learning in a 'school setting' that is traditionally inclined to think of learning as 'knowledge transfer' and is set up as a 'bankconcept model of learning' in which ownership, self management and responsibility for your own learning is often not very well triggered. To the contrary compliance, consumerism and 'copy behavior' is often required to do well in higher education... although we want to deliver 'autonomous professionals' to society.
- Develop and renew the coaching practices and methodologies we use in our 'teaching' and 'management' in order to trigger that autonomous ownership attitude with students (during their internship for instance) and with managers (function talks for instance). Besides the one on one methodologies we also focus on intervision, process facilitation, large group intervention, Appreciative Inquiry, networks, intervision etc...