Rule 3: Relevance I

The Relevance Rule – Part I:  Align All Employee Business Processes

While Financial Resource Management (FRM) and accounting generally have very coherent and internally consistent processes and procedures, most workforce-related initiatives and processes are fragmented, inconsistent, and frequently contradictory.

The reasons are that FRM processes involve much less diversity and complexity than that of managing people, and as such can be defined by a centralized authority and dictated by process and enabling technology to the entire enterprise.

Creating the same order and universality in Enterprise Performance Management is a task of far broader scope and deeper complexity, but no less a requirement. The need to create this order and universality in processes and technologies is that by doing so, Employee Certainty is optimized, thus employee contribution and opportunity for success is optimized.

When business/organization priorities, processes, procedures, and technologies are not aligned, and as a result often in direct conflict, workforce members consciously and subconsciously determine which of the priorities, processes, procedures, and technologies are either Relevant or Irrelevant To Success. This is seen in enterprises where the workforce overtly ignores implementation of seemingly critical business practices, procedures and technologies.

In a large U.S. bank, the Retail Banking Division had implemented a comprehensive year-long “Sales Culture” program to get the workforce to increase product referrals and cross-sales. They included incentives, prizes, colorful newsletters, and motivational rallies with balloons and rousing music and speeches.

At the climactic year-end awards banquet, and as a new-year kick-off, they festively recognized the top performers with the “Rocky” theme, large oversize award checks presented by the Chairman, entertainment, and a raucous inspiring celebration. It made a huge positive impression, and promised much for the upcoming year.

Until two weeks later when, through the year-end bank-wide employee performance review process, three of the top five award winners were put on employment probation to be terminated in ninety days because of sub-standard operational performance; they were amazing at customer sales and service, but less so at documentation and box-checking. And, thoroughly discredited, the Sales Culture program flamed out.

In the aftermath, it seemed to the workforce that while making referrals and cross-sales could get you a trophy and a little extra cash, imperfect form completion could get you fired: an irreconcilable conflict between different business priorities and processes.

A year went by, with 45% of the Retail workforce turning over, before management could think again of uttering the words “Sales Culture”, much to the harm of the enterprise’s critical sales and growth goals.

In another enterprise, the two different lines of business designed and implemented their own sales performance incentive plans, without any inter-unit interaction or thorough higher-level oversight. They created an environment where 75% of all incentives paid across the enterprise were for dollars that were pirated from across each others’ lines of business.

The results were a huge waste of incentive dollars, hostile and counter-productive competition between co-workers, and worse, lost credibility among confused, frustrated, and dissatisfied customers.

This example, with others, led to the realization that organizations must implement, and sustain, the practice of fully aligning internal human resource, technology, and line of business process initiatives and activities (presuming, of course, that internal business processes have been defined, created, and implemented) with complete rigor and integration.

In the same way that enterprises have worked to organize themselves across lines of business to be “around the customer” (i.e. Customer-Centric), so too should they do so across administrative and functional lines of business (through line and staff, front-office and back-office) to make processes and procedures universally “Employee-Centric”, thereby optimizing workforce Certainty at all points and desired performance results.

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>>> Rule 4