What does a High Performance through Engagement (HPtE) strategy fix?
A High Performance through Engagement (HPtE) strategy is designed to find the synergy between the 3 C’s, Commercial, Customer and Culture.
But, what does this actually fix?
To answer this question we need to explore what happens if we don’t have synergy between Commercial, Customer and Culture.
Traditionally organisations have focused on achieving performance by focusing only on commercial responsibility. Organisations would look for improvements and then try to convert those improvements into bottom line results. The fastest way to do that is to focus on improvements that reduce cost.
But, reducing costs will only get you so far. If you cut to deep you start to impact on the ability to add value to the customer. Focusing on reducing cost has another more devastating effect that we will discuss further on.
The last decade or so has seen more of a focus on continuous improvement (CI) towards creating increased customer value and improved processes as well as converting those improvements into bottom line results. Strategies like Lean, Six Sigma and Agile have made a significant contribution to this effort.
We know, however, from our previous discussion in "Why High Performance through Engagement (HPtE) strategy?" that a safe, secure and satisfying environment (a constructive culture) is also a necessary condition for sustainable high performance.
Where does a safe, secure and satisfying environment for the people doing the work fit into the picture?
Once again Richard Branson offers an insight:
“By putting the employee first, the customer effectively comes first by default, and in the end, the shareholder comes first by default as well.”
A constructive culture is the key to unlocking improvements to customer value. It is also the key to unlocking improvements in the processes that deliver that value.
There is an important assumption that should be made explicit here. The people closest to the customer or the process have more knowledge, intuition and experience about how to make improvements to customer value and processes than anyone else.
Yet, traditionally the people closest to the work are rarely involved in the decisions about the performance of the organisation.
We talked previously about the needs to convert any improvements into bottom line results. The fastest (and easiest) way to get any improvement to hit the bottom line is to reduce costs. The biggest cost in most organisations is labour. When there is pressure on Managers to ‘perform’ the temptation is to focus on reducing labour cost. This could be through redundancy, restructuring, benefit restriction, labour freeze’s, attrition programs etc, or a combination of these. However these are packaged and delivered the impact will be the same.
Attempting to reduce labour costs has a negative impact on the Safety, Security and Satisfaction (Culture) of the work force and the work environment.
When there is pressure to provide a Safe, Secure and Satisfying work place AND there is pressure to reduce labour costs there is a conflict.
That conflict shows itself through a Passive/Defensive and Aggressive/Defensive Culture.
The actual behaviours that turn up vary from one organisation to another but when we ask Employees and Unions how they would describe such a working environment they say things like:
When we ask Managers the same question they describe:
These behaviours can be grouped into two categories:
When these behaviours exist organisational performance drops.
When organisational performance drops there is more pressure to improve the processes and the value to the customer. To improve the processes and the value to the customer there is more pressure to provide a Safe, Secure and Satisfying work environment ...
... when organisational performance drops there is more pressure to improve ‘performance’ by improving the bottom line. The pressure to reduce labour costs goes up.
The conflict is reinforced, and the lists above get worse and worse.
This is not an environment for sustainable high performance.
Experienced High Performance through Engagement (HPtE) Facilitator, Coach and Consultant.
Have a question about HPtE - Ask Karl
Ask about Karl's 90 minute "Introduction to High Performance through Engagement"
(Designed as an overview for Senior Leadership Teams)