The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the body that oversees the HR profession in the UK, has just published its report at the conclusion of a two year "Shaping the Future" research project. I have to confess that my initial reaction is one of disappointment. Perhaps it is just me, but the project title sounds so promising. I expected to find out what new trends are shaping the profession and how organisations are responding to the demise of command and control management and how they are replacing it. Yet somehow, for me, the report does not deliver that.
Maybe my expectations were too high. Yet I still expected more from a report entitled, "Sustainable Organisational Performance: What Really Makes the Difference." Certainly the semantics cannot be faulted and the report does do what it says on the tin, and gives you a good insight into the what. Unfortunately it does not really develop the how. Statements like, "At Pfizer Grange Castle, continuous improvement systems and area targets linked to the bonus system mean that people know what their role is and how that contributes to their team and the site’s performance" are hardly illuminating.
In fact the report does not get off to an auspicious start. The opening statement, "It is not enough for organisations to perform well in the short-term; organisations need to sustain their performance over time, even through testing economic periods," has to be the mother of all motherhood statements. It certainly does not encourage you to expect great things from the remainder of the report.
But one should not be too hasty so let's dig a little deeper into the report and its contents.
Within the "broad areas of engagement, organisational development and leadership" the report identifies 8 "key themes" as really driving sustainable organisational performance. From these eight themes, it develops "ten insights and provocations, grounded in the research findings, to both support and challenge organisations looking to further develop their future approaches to organisational sustainability."
These 8 key drivers are:
- Shared purpose
- Locus of engagement
- Assessment and evaluation
- Balancing long-term and short-term horizons
- Capability building
There is nothing new or profound in any of those either. In fact it is debatable whether they even include all the standard business school drivers of sustainability. And, like the business schools, they have also failed to recognise that problems in these areas are prima facie evidence of a lack of employee engagement. Thus they have you focusing on these issues in their own right, and presumably still leave you needing to sort out your employee engagement to help you improve on these. They haven't seen that they are putting the cart before the horse and that when you address employee engagement you automatically meet these challenges at the same time.
Doesn't seem to be shaping the future, does it? At least, certainly not a very different one. Join me in the coming weeks to see how you can rectify this.