On 16 November 2022, I submitted the first of nine summative assessments for my CIPD Level 5 Diploma in People Management. This assessment required 12 written answers, totalling 5000 words, to questions about organisational performance and culture. On 21st November 2022, my review was graded as a "high pass", and I have begun Module 2. My goal is to complete Module 2 by the end of 2022.
Organisational Performance & Culture in Practice
Q1a. "Organisations differ in structure, the products and services offered and customers. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of two organisational structures, including the reasons underpinning them."
The functional and divisional types are the two organisation structures to be evaluated for advantages, disadvantages, and advocation.
A ‘functional’ type of organisation structures its workforce by concentrating on specific skills. Skills are departmentalised according to particular business practices – i.e., Human Resources, Marketing, IT, and Finance. The uniting factor between each department is that they report to the Operational Management (Stanford, 2022).
An advantage of a ‘functional’ structure is skill specialisation. As workforces are siloed according to a specialised skill, the competency of each department expectantly rises (Cameron and Green, 2019). The risk of misallocating resources across identically skilled departments is also mitigated as what is helpful to one may not be to another.
A disadvantage of a ‘functional’ structure is a lack of self-efficacy (Stanford, 2022). When department instruction is centralised, it reduces timely responses to business fluctuation. This may disincentivise departmental intuition and experimentation of business opportunities. Strict designation of skills may also hamper inter-departmental communication and collaboration.
Organisations focused on a single product or service seldom requiring change would profit most from a ‘functional’ structure, i.e., manufacturing and production (Cameron and Green, 2019).
Another type of organisation structure is ‘divisional’. A ‘divisional’ organisation subdivides its activities across distinct focus areas such as markets, products, and geographies (Standard, 2022). It is common to find subdivisions effectively operating as a micro-business within the larger organisation.
An advantage of a ‘divisional’ structure is accountability. The independence of each subdivision allows autonomy over its own decisions, resources, and outcomes. This devolution of authority enables competitive choices to be made in real-time (McNamara, 2009).
A disadvantage of the ‘divisional’ structure is the complexity of subdivisions. As performance is linked with a subdivision’s autonomy, rivalries can develop, and resources competed for (George, 2021). The diversity of specialisation across an organisation may lead to increased cost burdens compared to one centralised department.
Organisations generally profiting from ‘divisional’ structures offer various products and services (Porter, 2004). Each commodity may require nuanced approaches at the manufacturing or marketing stages. These approaches may be unique to that subdivision and not shared by others to achieve business objectives.
Q1b. "Organisations differ in structure, the products and services offered and customers. Analyse connections between organisational strategy, products, services, and customers."
An organisational strategy is the how and why resources are directed to achieve specific outcomes. Outcomes vary according to an organisation’s priorities, i.e., mission statements or increasing profits. Formulating a strategy is influenced by internal and external contexts (Cameron and Green, 2019). The golden thread between which is how these interconnections encourage or detract from strategic goals.
A typical chain of contexts follows: first, customer demand for a product or service energises an organisation; second, the organisation assembles resources, skilled personnel, stakeholders, and capacity to meet the market; and third, the organisation assesses stakeholder feedback, profits, and competitor analysis to evaluate whether its original strategic objectives were met (Armstrong, 2020).
Porter’s Generic Strategies are a valuable model to explore further how organisations formulate strategy. The Generic Strategies refer to the scope and interconnections between cost, leadership, differentiation, and focus (Porter, 2004). Each term contrasts an organisation’s competitive advantage with market competition by narrowing or broadening its priorities.
An example of these interconnections is if an organisation prioritises ‘cost leadership, it may seek a broad customer base through low prices of products and services (Porter, 2004). A strategic consideration for this scenario is to reduce the selling price. If an organisation prioritises ‘differentiation focus’, it may focus on a niche customer base by offering unique products or services (Porter, 2004). A strategic consideration would be to put features before cost.
Another way to learn about an organisation’s strategy is to analyse vertical or horizontal integrations – direct or lateral controlling factors (McNamara, 2009). A vertical structure may value direct control of its production processes instead of relying on outside contractors. This can be strategically advantageous because greater autonomy of approval processes may make its products or services better suited to a specific customer base. A horizontal structure may have a flat employment hierarchy, allowing for greater creative freedom over development or service design. This can be advantageous because the organisation may cater to customers with differing expectations.
Customer behaviours, stakeholder perspectives, competition, and market conditions are all interconnected factors for organisations adopting specific strategies (Dessler, 1994). An organisation’s design is intended to develop, create, and provide the products or services that will best satisfy these constituents.
Q2. "All organisations are affected to some extent by external factors and trends. The impact of these factors and trends could be positive, neutral, or negative. Some are short-lived, whilst others are long-lasting—Analyse external factors and trends impacting organisations to identify current priorities.
PESTLE is an organisational framework used to analyse macro-environmental factors and trends (Battista, 2021). The acronym refers to the work of Francis Aguilar in Scanning the Business Environment, 1967. PESTLE refers to factors that influence organisational priorities: the P(olitical), the E(conomic), S(ocial), the T(echnological), the L(egal), and the E(nvironmental).
Politically, Uber operates in 85 countries. This means Uber must be aware of many local and international policies. Organisations with global distribution chains, such as Adidas, need to be aware of the political stability of the countries where they import or export products and services (Turner, 2001). Some countries may have banned an organisation, such as Coca-Cola in China. This requires organisations to evaluate the benefits of entering a market and its incentives.
Economically, Uber appeals to customers with disposable income for quick transportation needs. Coca-Cola is an affordable and globally recognised brand; however, it must monitor production cost versus demand for its product. For instance, beverage ranges are trending towards healthier drinks. This is a challenge because Coca-Cola has a significant brand association with sugary beverages.
Socially, Uber offers a user-friendly app experience with a map viewer displaying the driver in real-time. This feature is aligned with rider attitudes towards visibility (Mohdzaini, 2021). Apple is famous in many countries; however, its products have a reputation for being unattainable to low-income consumers.
Technologically, Uber embraces new technology. Uber’s systems automate a match between customers and drivers as a service. Availability is determined by compliance with the terms and conditions of app stores. Other organisations may consider new technology's impact on employee skills and processes (Stokel-Walker, 2022).
Legally, all organisations must comply with the laws and regulations of a given territory to do business. Apple has long been rumoured to be researching innovative automobile technology. Apple may incur further regulatory costs and legal proceedings by entering this space.
Environmentally, Uber offers taxi and food delivery services. As demand increases, it has the consequence of growing traffic congestion. Conversely, Uber removes the need for car ownership and has specific tariffs for cleaner vehicles with safer materials. This position is aligned with how many customers respond to climate change concerns.
Organisational priorities can be identified by considering each PESTLE context (Stanford, 2022). To continue growing, Coca-Cola may seek to reverse bans imposed by complying with required regulations. Uber’s services are invested in maintaining technological sophistication to remain competitive with rival organisations. And lastly, adopting environmentally aware policies will keep organisations aligned with customer climate concerns (Stanford, 2022).
Q3. "The CIPD’s report Workplace Technology: the employees' experience (2020:2) states, ‘the impact of the latest technology revolution on how organisations create value and on the way people work spans all industries, economies, and parts of society’. Assess the scale of technology within organisations and how it impacts work."
The emergence of new technology is not recent. Significantly, the telephone in 1876, the radio in 1901, the aeroplane in 1903, the personal computer in 1974, the internet in 1974, and artificial intelligence in 2017 (Gregersen, 2019). The scale and impact of technology have many implications for organisational strategy and how people work.
A good starting point is to assess work systems. They are processes and activities participated by people and, crucially, machinery. This synthesis uses information, technology, customers, infrastructure, strategy, and the environment to produce products or services (Mohdzaini, 2021).
Integrating technology with established practices can be disruptive (Mohdzaini, 2021). Cost implications may involve employee training, installation, technical support, and interim productivity losses. Organisations mitigate these factors by budgeting and managing rollout. Unforeseen complications or delays can incur increased spending (Stokel-Walker, 2022).
Ease of rollout is often determined by the level of support for adopting a particular technology. An organisation’s stakeholders will consider the impact and viability of the business (Baczor and Houghton, 2020). This may mean specific roles become redundant, others change, or new positions are created in response (Coombs, Hislop, and Taneva, 2017).
Prevalence can be assessed by observing the broad categories of technology: automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics (Baczor and Houghton, 2020). For instance, Ocado combines these categories to manage stock, automate orders, and machine packing. This uses many functions simultaneously including algorithms, the internet, cloud computing, and machinery. A different example is Slack, a communications app that provides an online service to team-based employees. These functions can raise standards, improve safety, and reduce error.
Perhaps the most disruptive factor with implementing technology is the risk of staff redundancy or restructuring. Technology implemented well and serves an organisation’s priorities can raise productivity and further deliver its mission statement (Stanford, 2022). This impact is seen with emerging working methods such as hybrid and product development. Increasingly, there are customer expectations that digital alternatives are available to access products and services.
New technology can still be dissatisfactory, particularly when it impacts identity (Porter, 2004). Jobs are becoming more complex, and reskilling is necessary (Coombs, Hislop, and Taneva, 2017). When tenured employees practice a particular skill set, it isn't easy when technology automates it. However, worker efficiencies and well-being benefits exist, as technology has made many manual processes unnecessary.
Access to the Internet has also improved collaborative working, as seen with Microsoft Teams and Zoom during the pandemic (Houghton and Baczor, 2020). Some of today’s technologies are integral to how many organisations work.
Q4. "Drawing on your reading, explain one theory or model that examines organisational culture and interpret one that examines human behaviours."
Organisations are a collective of individual employees working towards a common goal. These goals are achieved by coordinating employees to fulfil organisational functions through performance (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). This is further informed by an organisation’s culture and understanding of human behaviour.
An organisation’s culture finds a definition in its unique values, beliefs, and personality. Culture is the normalising factor in how employees interact at the micro and macro levels (Dessler, 2016). One model that interconnects organisational structure to culture comes from Charles Handy.
In Handy’s Model, there are four types of culture: (1) Power, (2) Task, (3) Person, and (4) Role. (1) ‘Power’ refers to the centralisation of authority by a few privileged employees (Handy, 1993). These employees make decisions and disseminate communications to all other employees. (2) ‘Task’ refers to forming teams to achieve desired goals (Handy, 1993). Teams form around employees with specialised skill sets. (3) ‘Person’ refers to individual prioritisation over organisational loyalty (Handy, 1993). This can manifest as employees exclusively working for money. (4) ‘Role’ refers to allocating an employee’s responsibilities according to a hierarchy of expertise (Handy, 1993). This makes individual employees accountable for the role performed.
Understanding human behaviour is essential to contextualise how organisational culture is further shaped. The “Expectancy Theory of Motivation” by Victor Vroom emphasises that performance correlates to motivation levels (Vroom, 1994). That intensity of performance rests on the expectation that performance will be followed by clear outcomes (i.e., reward).
Vroom’s theory describes three relationships. (1) ‘Effort-Performance’, that effort will lead to performance recognition; (2) ‘Performance-Reward’, that high performance will lead to an expected reward; and (3) ‘Reward-Personal’, how appealing a reward is subjective to employees (Turner, 2001).
The theory goes further to describe motivations as outcomes of (1) valence, (2) expectancy, and (3) instrumentality. (1) ‘Valence’ is how motivated the employee desires the expected reward (Vroom, 1994). (2) ‘Expectancy’ is the belief that increased effort will lead to increased performance (Vroom, 1994). Affecting factors include access to resources and support to accomplish goals. (3) ‘Instrumentality’ is the belief that should an employee perform expediently, stipulated outcomes are guaranteed to follow (Vroom, 1994).
Vroom’s theory centres on employee self-interestedness to psychologically maximise satisfaction and minimise dissatisfaction. It posits that performance favourable to the organisation can be perceived as satisfying to the employee if effort produces the desired reward. This approach is not universally applied. Some organisations link rewards to other factors, such as hierarchy. Vroom’s theory is still helpful for unifying desired goals to maximum effort.
Q5. "Assess how people's practices impact organisational culture and behaviour, drawing on examples to support arguments."
Most employees recognise the more visible activities of people practices such as recruitment, dismissal, and administration. However, there are other practices impacting culture and behaviour. This is seen through pay equity, well-being promotion, implementing technology, job design, and performance management (Gifford, 2014).
Such practices can be planned (i.e., Elon Musk restructuring Twitter, 2022) or responsive (i.e., global pandemic, 2020) to drivers of change. These drivers for change emerge from many internal and external forces, such as innovation, commercialism, economic uncertainty, competition, or legal pressure (George, 2021). By definition, all change is disruptive to an organisation’s cultural and behavioural status quo (Cameron and Green, 2019). The manner of implementation and prioritisation accorded by people practices can determine how sound change is adopted.
Sheldon A. Davis’ paper from 1967, “An Organic Problem-Solving Method of Organisational Change”, offers a model to assess how practices influence culture. It gives five models that best describe how an organisation can operate. (1) Autocratic, through authority; (2) custodial, through incentives; (3) supportive, through motivation; (4) collegial, through teamwork; and (5) systematic, through a structure (Stanford, 2022).
These models represent how practices can establish and communicate the organisational control of employees. People's practice impacts culture by prioritising engagement monitoring, learning and development, and incentivisation (Turner, 2001). Poorly communicated or partial people practices can create an unconducive culture (i.e., managers accused of harassment at WeWork perceived to be protected by the People Team to mitigate litigation, 2019).
David Rock’s paper from 2008, “SCARF”, provides a model to view the impact of people practices on organisational behaviours. It posits five threat and reward responses. (1) Status, perceived importance to others; (2) certainty, future predictability; (3) autonomy, control of events; (4) relatedness, safety among others; and (5) fairness, reasonable exchange (Stanford, 2022).
These models offer a view of how people's practices can understand and apply knowledge of interpersonal and interdependent behaviours. The broad purpose of people's pattern of behaviour is to better work relationships through organisational, social, and human objectives (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). This is positively seen with the introduction of diversity and inclusion policies. These policies are intended to improve team relationships and collaborative ways to drive performance. It signals diverse views are welcome and employees will not be discriminated against.
A negative example of practices influencing behaviours can be seen with unethical reward systems. Such systems were deployed up to the financial crisis 2007, whereby financiers were incentivised to normalise highly consequential risk-taking schemes. The outcome of these practices represents the responsibility of practitioners to ensure the right behaviours are encouraged.
Q6a. "Many organisations have managed considerable change in recent years. CIPD’s report, People Profession 2030: A Collective View of Future Trends (2020), identifies ‘internal change’ as a key future trend. Explain different approaches to managing change."
Today’s organisations are impacted by rapid societal, economic, political, and technological changes. Over 1,200 organisations worldwide have billion-dollar valuations, and many, such as ByteDance, emerged within the past decade (CBI, 2022). This pace of change presents many opportunities to integrate new ways of working and deter obsolescence. Adaptation is strategically vital to organisations, but it requires careful change management to implement successfully and assess capability (Kotter, 2008).
Kurt Lewin proposed a linear change model in the 1947 paper “Frontiers in Group Dynamics”. It describes three episodic steps for organisational change to take place: (1) by unfreezing, (2) by changing, and (3) by refreezing (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). Step (1) ‘unfreeze’ means articulating the need to change from the status quo to a new way of working. It seeks to prepare and motivate employees. Step (2) ‘change’ means to begin assimilating the transition. To assuage resistance, employee involvement and engagement are intended to build endorsement and necessitate change (Cameron and Green, 2019). Step (3) ‘refreeze’ means integrating the change as the new status quo. This is supported by consistent positive reinforcement, reward, recognition, and policies. Prioritisation is placed on the decision-maker's role through emotional understanding and role-modelling change (George, 2021).
Additionally, John Kotter’s book from 1996, “Leading Change”, described eight steps to involve employees in organisational change. That is by (1) creating urgency, (2) identifying change leaders, (3) developing strategic values, (4) articulating the vision, (5) removing barriers, (6) celebrating short-term gains, (7) consolidating gains, and (8) integrating the change (Stanford, 2022). Here, the emphasis is placed on emotional preparation and employee endorsement of change rather than the process itself. However, not all organisational change can be foreseen or begin from a place of stability.
Change can be emergent and uninitiated by senior management. Emergent change theory broadly refers to the ongoing interaction with non-linear processes (Green, Peters, and Young, 2019). One example of an emergent change is the proliferation of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Many organisations now cultivate an online presence to engage, evolvingly, with consumers, industry leaders, and politicians. This has led to new codes of conduct, training, policies, international engagement, and generational sensitivity. These represent incremental changes to understand better and engage with unknown dynamics. Such processes will evolve because, unlike linear functions, there is no definitive endpoint. The speed of emergent change impacts organisations, making it challenging to have situational awareness before processes have time to adapt (Dessler, 2016).
Q6b. "Many organisations have managed considerable change in recent years. CIPD’s report, People Profession 2030: A Collective View of future trends (2020), identifies ‘internal change’ as a key future trend. Discuss models for how change is experienced."
Departure from the status quo impacts people in different ways. It can be an emotional process with gradual degrees of acclimatisation. Some embrace changes quickly or feel threatened and resistant. Responses to change have simultaneous fluidity and continuity. Such variable responses to change have been explored with models to better understand our relationship with upheaval.
One model emerged from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1967 book, “On Death and Dying”. Written initially to explain the grieving process, Kübler-Ross’ research was further utilised to understand reactions to change (Armstrong, 2020). The aforementioned “Change Curve” is not a prescriptive sequence because responses are relative to the individual. It speaks to the relationship between morale and time. The seven stages show this progression as (1) shock, with the new; (2) denial, attempts to falsify it; (3) frustration, begrudging realisation the situation has changed; (4) depression, morale is frozen to inaction; (5) experimentation, cursory engagement with the new, (6) decision, proactive engagement, and (7) integration, normalisation of the new (George, 2021).
John Adams and Sabina Spencer developed a different model in the 1988 “People in Transition” journal article. Each stage presented is concerned with the relationship between self-esteem and time: (1) immobilisation, fear of the unknown, (2) minimisation, self-denial that things have changed, (3) depression, feeling unable to cope, (4) acceptance, emerging confidence, (5) testing, formulating a relationship with the change, (6) seeking meaning, self-reflection, and (7) internalisation, coming to terms with the change (Cameron and Green, 2019). Each transitional phase benchmarks the expansion of self-esteem when introduced to the new. This progresses from a disruptive beginning to acknowledgement, experimentation, and understanding. This process can be compared with Kübler-Ross’ “Change Curve” in that it begins with a catalyst disrupting the status quo and ends, through time, with unifying change into new behaviours. However, the “Model of Transition” differs somewhat in prioritising self-esteem and finding individual meaning in the new.
Another model was developed in the 1986 book by Robert Tannenbaum and Robert Hanna called “Human Systems Development”. It presents three phases for how change is experienced: (1) homeostasis/holding on, (2) dying/letting go, and (3) rebirth / moving on (Tannenbaum and Hanna, 1985). The “Three Phases” follow a similar trajectory to the models above. Similar progressing feelings such as fear, confusion, apathy, suspicion, and acceptance can be applied. The difference is using metaphor to say exposure to change can be a one-way destination for the individual. It can end with (1) “homeostasis”, remaining unchanged, (2) “dying”, losing your old self. Or (3) “rebirth”, emerging as a new self.
Q7. "CIPD’s Good Work Index provides an annual benchmark of job quality. Data is gathered on seven dimensions of good work, including ‘health and wellbeing’. Assess the importance of well-being at work and factors which impact well-being."
When conceptualising well-being at work, it quickly becomes clear no single definition exists. Well-being could be defined as the holistic consideration of an employee’s physical, emotional, and psychological welfare (NICE, 2015). It is the degree to which someone is engaged, happy, and satisfied at work. A net benefit from the rising prominence of such consideration shows that once stigmatised areas, such as mental health, are increasingly becoming a matter to be discussed and not dismissed (Cooper and Hesketh, 2019).
One of the most significant factors impacting well-being is health itself. It is crucial to employees because health directly determines their productivity level (Armstrong, 2020). This is especially so when every conceivable workplace task depends on physical and mental activity. Motor function and forethought are how employees and groups work face-to-face and, increasingly, remotely. The work environment also plays a role in health by ensuring physical safety with reliable equipment and promoting safe working practices. Diminishing well-being can manifest as decreased performance, increased absence, and prolonged periods of sickness (Suff, 2022). In such instances, occupational health and risk assessments can be utilised to measure capability versus role requirements. Reviews also recommend reasonable adjustments to balance an employee’s ability with a contribution. This is particularly important when employees disclose a medical diagnosis. Other intended tools to support health include conflict resolution, stress management, health insurance, and health checks (NICE, 2015). Combined, such tools support and recognise employees’ general health as strategically important to maintain resilience and engagement.
At any level of employment, perpetual stress and overwork harm well-being. The global pandemic demonstrated the enlarged role technology now, and has always, played with modern working practices. However, the ‘always-on’ illusion technology fosters requires a counternarrative that ‘enough is enough’. Many organisations depend on technology for business meetings and system management. This realisation has led to the feasibility of alternate ways of working with remote and hybrid work arrangements. However, as seen by ‘Zoom fatigue’, overuse of technology can lead to unconstructive stress and burnout (Mohdzaini, 2021). Managers are often the first to recognise diminishing well-being in employees and require well-being training to assuage it. They may even be indirectly responsible for setting unachievable goals. Organisations can provide alternative forums by hiring counsellors and mental health professionals to mitigate the impact.
Job design may also tangentially impact well-being as jobs influence social and financial considerations. This is especially clear with the cost of living because pay impacts not just the employee but communities, homes, and families.
Q8. "Discuss the links between the employee lifecycle and different people practice roles."
The ‘employee life cycle’ is the constellation of processes experienced by employees throughout employment (Armstrong, 2020). These processes, as manifested by people practitioners, are chronological and anticipate the beginning and end of the employee-employer relationship (George, 2021). Each method has variable repeatability. For instance, induction will happen once, while learning and development are periodically revisited. The purpose is to inform employees of processes pertinent to the employment journey.
The process begins with evaluating an organisation’s attractiveness to potential employees. This involves critical evaluation of (1) the organisation’s brand, (2) the employee value proposition, (3) the organisation’s requirements, and (4) how best to meet these requirements (Dessler, 2016). This leads to job design and proactive recruitment efforts. The job advert will entail the skills and competencies required by the organisation. The employee value proposition is fundamental because compensation, benefits, career, and culture are part of the attraction strategy (Armstrong, 2020).
Attraction and recruitment are followed by induction to onboarding. Induction is the organisation’s welcome to the employee. This may involve a conditional offer, statement of terms, applicable policies, and the employee handbook. Onboarding further articulates the knowledge, skills, expectations, and behaviours required to fulfil a role specifically. A responsive experience is vital because vague information and lack of empowerment are early attrition risks.
Once the employee has settled, professional development and retention efforts are foremost. Approaches to development include coaching, self-directed learning, events, and programmes. People's practices influence these approaches by defining capability needs versus learning implications (Cooper and Hesketh, 2019). Retention prioritises employee contentment. It seeks to understand factors affecting retention and attrition, i.e., well-being. The experiences impacting retention are holistic from reward, pay, leadership, culture, and engagement (Armstrong, 2020).
The final stage is the exit interview. People's practices engage with the exit experience by documenting feedback and ensuring those leaving feel heard and valued. This feedback can then be used to inform or address areas of improvement. How employees leave an organisation can influence the quality of relationships they have with the organisation post-employment.
Understanding how the processes are experienced can be a net benefit to employees and the organisation. The cycle is iterative because deliberately planning each strategy has value beyond its content. If employees have a good experience, it improves the likelihood of retention and increases attraction through reputation (Green, Peters and Young, 2019). Likewise, should employees have inequitable experiences, they have several options to voice dissatisfaction: anonymous Glassdoor reviews, employment tribunal, word-of-mouth disavowal, filing a grievance, and critical public feedback (Suff, 2022).
Q9. "Analyse how people's practice connects with other areas of an organisation and supports wider people and organisational strategy."
Each function of an organisation, from marketing, sales, finance, and technology, will issue specific objectives to reach strategic goals. People's practice plays a supportive role in the achievement of such purposes. It can do this by analysing present and potential conditions impacting capability versus achievement. Based on such findings, it can directly and indirectly align every function and employee to the organisation’s strategy (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020).
As every function comprises individuals, people practices can also be tailored to the employee experience. This can be seen with the deployment of growth and vertical integration strategies (George, 2021). Perhaps most visibly seen with people practice’s sole responsibility for organisation-wide staffing and oversight of the employee life cycle. People practice impacts and intersect every employee-related matter, from talent acquisition, performance management, training, development, retention, engagement, compliance, compensation, benefits, safety, and security (Kew and Stredwick, 2016).
Functional leaders can develop siloed perspectives as each employee will have responsibilities particular to given functions (Farnham, 2015). People practices help mitigate this risk by acting as a bridge for collaborative planning, assessment, measurement, evaluation, and adjustment (Kew and Stredwick, 2016). This requires a clear distinction to be made between objectives and goals. That is to say: (1) ‘functional objectives’ as specific, short-term measurements relative to goals and (2) ‘organisational goals’ as broad, long-term strategic achievements (Dessler, 2016).
The priority of people practice is to ensure all functions of the organisation perform optimally and maintain commonality with organisational strategy. As functions are iterative, people practices can deploy horizontal integration by merging and aligning resources toward the strategy (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). Some effective means of doing this involve (1) promoting strategic development within every department, (2) the provision of training/resources to fulfil objectives, and (3) modelling the strategy on its own (Farnham, 2015).
More widely throughout the organisation, people practices can provide interconnecting support for every employee, function, and strategy through job design, performance monitoring, and talent management (Armstrong, 2020). Good job design will tailor professional expectations to the employee and strategic satisfaction. This can mean a job design that fosters interactive, collaborative teams. Or one that enables employees to develop skills applicable to other organisational positions. Good performance monitoring will reward innovation and recognise long-term accomplishment. Good talent management encourages broad career pathways and reinforces the value of developing a wide skillset (Cooper and Hesketh, 2019). The ultimate goal is acknowledging the connection between employee satisfaction and optimal functionality for the furthering of organisational strategy.
Q10. "People professionals provide a service to internal customers, but to truly add value, they need to understand their customer’s needs. Discuss processes for consulting and engaging with internal customers to understand their needs."
Organisations have specific internal customer bases. These bases typically consist of senior management and employees on short- or long-term contracts (Armstrong, 2020). An organisation's social system needs to be understood for practitioners to engage impactfully with these internal customers. The social system is characterised by how employees work and interact as a team (George, 2022). There are several approaches people practitioners can deploy to gain insight and build strategies to support internal customer needs.
A few of the most used approaches to identify such needs include exit interviews, pulse checks/surveys, review sites, focus groups, and engagement surveys for new or existing employees (Drucker, 1994). Each method offers a unique opportunity to learn about the employment experience directly from employees, sometimes anonymously. Frequently cited barriers can range from material shortcomings to environmental problems or inequitable processes. Professional engagement with such findings signals that employees’ views are valued and have been heard (Turner, 2001). Additionally, examining personnel data from performance or attendance metrics can verify whether employee needs are being met.
Another approach specialised people practitioners can take is business partners. This will vary between organisations according to strategic priority. The typical business partner role transitions from enablement to strategic responsibilities in people's practice. This differs from business management by emphasising productive relationships with internal customers instead of external ones. Business partners occupy a unique vantage point to identify why a need or issue exists and present potential solutions to rectify it (George, 2022). The role also enables such matters to be communicated in clear people practice and strategic terms. This can more readily begin a streamlined organisational response.
A final avenue for people practitioners to understand internal customers is through consultation (Block, 2011). A typical consultative model follows several steps: (1) develop relationships that access the internal customer experience, (2) define customer objectives against organisational goals, (3) collect data to understand needs and issues hampering productivity, (4) present options and strategies to remove these barriers, (5) proactively implement a favoured solution to traverse a barrier, and lastly (6) evaluate the solution’s results and disengage once the change is self-sustainable (George, 2022). The purpose of the consultation is to gather evidence that specifies a real-world customer need and offers an impactful resolution. The desired outcome is to improve the internal working relationships between an organisation and its personnel to deliver strategic goals consistently.
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