What do we need to make us develop? In theory it’s easy – we must respond quicker. In practice – it’s a challenge requiring engagement of all employees.
What is so difficult about that? Organisations, not only companies, but also public institutions and charities, put much effort into motivational programmes for their employees and implement complicated quality assessment systems to reward the best performers. Traditional methods, however, are not enough to achieve independence from market turbulences – and from personal perturbations inside the company.
Numerous Polish enterprises have reached the point where their organisational structures do not allow further and efficient development. Therefore, management boards, senior managers and presidents of companies seek new methods of managing their companies that allow further growth.
In order for a company to actually be ready for any challenges it may face, traditional methods must go hand-in-hand with a change in the concept of the enterprise’s operations – to a concept assuming the constant need for learning. Effective learning is not only constant improvement of qualifications. It should be based on a questioning of the existing principles. It is an issue, especially in traditional organisations, both for employees who fear expressing their opinions as they do not feel important enough to think that their opinion matters, and for managers who often take criticism towards the organisation personally.
Paradoxically, the first step to changes inside the company often requires a person from the outside to objectively evaluate the structure and procedures in the company. However, only with the involvement of all employees in the process will guarantee its development. It requires less formal training processes, but more creation of work environment where undermining authorities, asking questions and seeking non-standard solutions at each level of the professional hierarchy will become natural. This does not mean that training should be abandoned. Training should be adapted to needs of particular employees, responsible for carrying out particular tasks, to create the opportunity for the free exchange of knowledge, experience and doubts. Instead of authoritative teaching and preaching, it is worth opening up to learning.
When we have to deal with businesses operating in very narrow professional specialisations, it’s impossible to act otherwise. The biggest talents in any sector cannot be managed by managers or even presidents, who often have limited knowledge on their work. So why shouldn’t we promote them, using them as experts? Today enhancing the bond between employees and their company is particularly important. We face an employee’s market. It is extremely important to develop a non-remuneration offer that will make an employer retain an employee for a longer period of time. It is not only about the packages of benefits and proposals based on modern employer branding tools.
Experts should, however, be available, on hand. They should be allowed to share their knowledge and experience with other employees so that the learning process goes on without redundant intermediaries. This constant learning process should be initiated bottom-up, and should result from a real need for solutions to problems, and not a training schedule.
Knowledge must be rewarded, and there must also be optimal conditions created for its acquisition so that granting bonuses to experts becoming truly motivating. Asking difficult questions related with challenges ahead of the company and engaging the whole team to face them should therefore be appreciated. Making mistakes should be an opportunity to draw conclusions and under no circumstances should bring down dire consequences upon the employees that made them. Fear of consequences though is the main reason why employees prefer not to say their opinions out loud and not to propose changes.
Such a fossilised system creates ideal conditions for feigned activity by employees – HR managers organise training more from the sense of duty than from any real needs (sometimes they are not even aware of them) and employees participate in them in the knowledge that the training will not improve the quality of their work. And if there’s a need for senior managers to stand united and attenuate differences in opinions, instead of supporting creative and sometimes turbulent discussions aimed at finding innovative solutions, stagnation is just a matter of time.
Whereas objectives should be determined and agreed upon by all, the means to achieve them should be chosen in a flexible manner and should be elaborated in a spirit of teamwork. Companies that are open to their employees, who in turn are open to new trends, will be able to adapt to changing market conditions far better than companies that are fossilised in their thinking.