Although this post may appear to be a Google valentine-in-disguise, it’s actually about an intriguing research paper (that happens to reference Google – over and over again) about the power and potential of people-driven companies.
If you work for a living, there’s a good chance that you, too, will get googly eyed about the notions put forth in this work. Executive managers will get solid advice for creating/sustaining a dynamic, competitive, and successful business. And if you’re part of the team ranks, the paper offers validation of the existence of dynamic, satisfying, almost Utopian work environments.
Cornell University’s June 2007 “HR Spectrum” newsletter highlights the paper, Dynamic Organizations: Achieving Marketplace Agility Through Workforce Scalability, which was authored by two industry heavy hitters: Lee Dyer and Jeff Ericksen.
Achieving marketplace agility requires the ongoing reallocation of business resources, including human resources, say Dyer and Ericksen. Therefore, workforce scalability, “the capacity of an organization to keep its human resources aligned with business needs,” is required for marketplace agility.
To achieve workforce scalability, you need two ingredients:
1. WORKFORCE ALIGNMENT
Otherwise known as Getting Everyone on the Same Page, a priority for marketing communications / corporate communications / HR
a. Top-Down Process – Integrate HR planning with business planning
Is this a pipe dream or does it really happen in some companies?
b. Bottom Up – Instill a shared mindset
2. WORKFORCE FLUIDITY
Strategy for quick, seamless, and painless change management
a. Acquiring Talent: Pre-Qualify Sources
Prepping trusted sources, gathering referrals, and social networking are key examples
b. Releasing Employees: Routinize Outplacement
Employees are “released” for various reasons–valid or not. This report refers to clinical outplacement strategies necessary for business growth…this may sound cold, but it is beneficial – like a forest fire inspires new growth, so, too, does routine outplacement.
c. Enrich the Talent Pool
Niche competence doesn’t cut it anymore and neither does hiring someone who EXACTLY fits requirements of a job description. Dynamic organizations need talent with broad- and future-based potential as well as the ability and propensity to Free Think.
d. Facilitate Interpersonal Connectivity
Yep, encouraging those water cooler conversations can actually pay off – literally.
More from the research on this particular topic:
“…breaking down barriers that inhibit communication in typical organizations, such as beliefs that knowledge is power (and thus should be hoarded) and the formation of sub-cultures and cliques, while building up infrastructures that facilitate communication, such as smaller units, communities of practice, open-plan offices, and state-of-the-art organizational intranets. It also involves enhancing opportunities for small, rotating groups of employees to get together on a social basis…”
e. Expand Role Orientations
This one is IRL validation of Item C. Essentially, dynamic organizations give official permission for employees to go Out of Bounds and Explore New Opportunities
f. Unleash the Talent Pool
Organizational constraints such as static budgets and departmental conflicts further restrict the talent pool in its ongoing exploration of new opportunities
g. Align Incentives
OK, cutting to the chase:
“…first, to pay all employees (not just executives) well above prevailing market rates in hopes of encouraging the attraction and retention of the very best talent and, second, to base a significant part of this lavish pay on organization-wide results (e.g., profit-sharing) in an effort to keep employees focused on the big picture.”
The research paper calls the aforementioned items “Guiding Principles” but I call them Employee Benefits – both financial and otherwise – that would create an undeniable Utopianesque work environment…a dream scenario for employees, Human Resources, and – ultimately – the business. In reality, each one of these Guiding Principles deserves its own blog post based on its own merits.
Rewards come in many flavors. And, although monetary rewards equal employees’ employment raison d’etre, I believe that each of the above Guiding Principles is just as valuable as a paycheck.
What do you think folks? Can you put a price tag on OTJ principles such as out-of-bounds explorations, social interactions, individual empowerment, uninhibited information sharing, and evolutionary career training?
Is it really like this at Google? Tell me. Tell me.
The possibility is givin’ me (and Wall Street) shivers, along with googly eyes.