A friend of mine called Jane mentioned to me that HR have finally got their programme of courses out for the year, not bad it’s only August. Now she has the task of trying to link the results of her learning and development reviews to the courses on offer. I know that there is usually a bit of a rush on to book places on the courses as the dates are fixed for the year. Jane admitted that if she was being honest back in February when she was doing her reviews she had no real idea of the development needs of her team because she had not finalised the business plans that had started being written back in November of last year. Surely, it would make more sense to concentrate learning and development effort based upon the demands placed upon employees by the customer? In that way training monies would be spent at the right time on the right support. Not on a standard set of events determined remotely by someone in HR months before they are offered.
Anyway back to the story… The Policy team had messed about with the dates for publication in previous years; leaving Jane and her colleagues in the dark about requirements and timescales. This year she told me that she had tried to get ahead and start the conversations with her team and start pulling plans together. Since last year Jane has had to enter all the plans in to an on line system. So, quite rightly she thought that her action was doing the right thing, until Policy decided that yet again they needed to change the format of the plans to make it easier for them to produce the corporate plan for the organisation. I could see by the expression that Jane gave me that she was fuming! Quite rightly so in my view. All of the work that she had already done was in the wrong format, and according to them (Policy) she had to re- enter the information in their new format. Jane admitted that she tried to ignore this requirement for a while, as her plans were already in the system. Ironically, she said she never used the online system apart from having to enter her performance data once a month. Like most of us, Jane acknowledged that she fudged the numbers to make them look ok, and had not been caught out so far because ‘no one really looks that closely at the data’.
In the end Jane’s name came up on the naughty girls/boys list, and she got a stern email from the Chief Executive’s Office telling her to get her finger out and get her plans in the right format. Brilliant! You cannot beat a bit of extrinsic motivation to kill morale.
Anyway, Jane decided that she could avoid the issue no longer, took the ‘bull by the horns’ and copy and pasted the detail from one part of the system to the other. A waste of time and effort! I was chatting to another friend the other day and he was telling that a similar thing happens in the organisation in which he works.
What is going on in the world? Can organisations really afford to waste resources messing about changing templates and entering plans into corporate systems? Reality proves that plans get compromised after month one and become a work of fiction as people fudge the system to show progress again objectives that have been rendered worthless in view of changing priorities. The problem is that the new priorities do not replace the last set, they get added to them. All this planning and monitoring is little more than a smoke screen. We all know that the real work gets done off plan and often by getting around the system to make it happen in a timely fashion.
If leaders took time to understood the true purpose of their organisation in customer terms, and then designed and managed the work around that purpose they would soon learn that all this corporate business planning and performance reporting added no really value to the bottom line. In really it has the reverse impact. Money down the drain!
However, such action takes guts and determination; and too few seem prepared to do what it takes. Sad really! Leaders are happy to feather their own nest at the expense of others. Not really leadership at all is it!