What Great Organizations Seem to Get: To Execute, You Need Engaged Talent

It’s all about trust.

  • “HR is never on this floor. She came in and headed to our bosses’ office and stayed behind closed doors all afternoon.”
  • “She came back today and is in the office again. Our bosses’ door is never closed, but as soon as she comes, the door closes.”
  • Well, she is back again for the third day. Do you think I will lose my job? I have two interviews lined up for next week. I can’t wait to get out of here. Everyone feels the same way.”

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a friend who shared the above quotes with me. When I hear comments like these, my thought is, “what could you possibly have been thinking?”

The No. 1 topic for our workforce today

All of this reminded me of an HR person that I knew that relished being called “The Terminator.” She would smile each and every time she told this story.

HR, if you are planning layoffs, do not hold the meeting in an open environment. If you have to meet do it, meet off-site, or in another office, or on another floor. But don’t show up if you have never been there on a daily or weekly basis. If you look out of place on the floor, rethink the geography.

Although this could be just a normal planning meeting, in this climate, it will not be perceived that way.

Instead, it will be perceived in a way that all of your employee base will accelerate their job search immediately. They are going to go on the career offensive; they will take the ball in their own hands and run with it. They will not sit idly by anymore.

Career management is topic No. 1 for our workforce today.

Employees today are focused on uncertainty or any sign that shows something is happening. The rumor mills are percolating 24/7. That is why it is key that we be aware of the signals that we send.

Engagement killers

I will now add this to my list of engagement killers.

The list includes:

  • Lack of trust in Human Resources;
  • Lack of trust in management;
  • Careers that are guided by politics;
  • Non-engaging leaders; and,
  • An atmosphere of rewarding bad behavior.

Managing people in a changing world: the people agenda

Organizations today must maximize their human capital, and that gets more challenging each day. How do all of us in HR help our organizations promote and sustain economic performance? How do we lead, develop, and engage our people in this economic climate?

People should be at the top of every organization’s agenda, with as much importance as the organizational goals. Successful organizations get this! When you see names of companies on the best places to work list, you can rest assured that they get it.

The reasons they get it are numerous, but mainly, because you need engaged talent to execute. That’s right; not systems or processes — you must engage.

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People’s misbehavior has been behind a lot of the organizational collapses the last few years. The list is numerous, from Wall Street to corporate collapses.

If people are truly the greatest asset, they must be managed the way the organization manages its other assets. If not, then something will have to change going into the “post” recession. It is ever more apparent than ever that it is all about the people.

The importance of trust within the organization

Recently, I came across an article titled the “Trust Equation,” and it fit perfectly within this scenario. It highlights the importance of trust that can be blanketed across the organization.

It is all about trust.

Trust = credibility+ reliability+ intimacy+ self-orientation

  • Credibility means telling the truth. When you don’t know say so. Do not leave room for speculation. Do we look, act, react and talk credible. Do we exude credibility?
  • Reliability means whether we are seen as dependable and can be trusted. It links words and deeds, intentions and action.
  • Intimacy is when people trust you enough to have difficult and revealing conversations, and when you have shown that they care.
  • Self-orientation means it is not about HR. We can’t always be right. We should not be afraid of not having all the answers. We can’t be so consumed with our own agenda all the time. We must collaborate with our organization and its people.

Going forward it is all about rebuilding and reconnecting to a workforce that has been battered beyond belief. If anyone would have told us years ago that we would have ended up at this point of organizational complexity, we would have seriously doubted it.

Yes, there is heavy lifting ahead, but it is the perfect opportunity for our profession to lead this charge.

This is a golden opportunity for us to really “earn” the title of Business Partner. It can be given but to be effective, it has to be earned.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


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