energizing breakthrough performance

Mentoring for Improved Employee Morale

Author: ; Published: Mar 18, 2010; Category: Mentoring, Uncategorized, Workforce Succession Planning; Tags: , , , ; No Comments»

 

Mentoring programs are morale-builders. They replenish energy among those who are expected to be more productive tomorrow than they were yesterday. Mentoring’s considerable contributions to morale and energy are an investment in tomorrow and an investment in today.

As an example, a forward-looking city government in Southern California, with which we have had the privilege of working as mentoring training consultants, has leveraged its mentoring program to build a strong esprit de corps throughout its workforce. The commitment of staff to bettering themselves spills over into the important work that they do everyday.

A recent study published by the Harvard Business Review (January-February 2010 issue, "What Really Motivates Workers" by Teresa M. Amabile) reports that an important ingredient, perhaps the most important ingredient in employee satisfaction is having a sense of making progress in the work that the employee is doing.  At Strategic Futures, we believe that this principle applies not only to the work that the employee does for the organization, but also the work that the employee does on and for himself or herself.

Mentoring is as important, perhaps more important, in economically difficult times as it is during times of prosperity. It’s neither a secret nor inappropriate that employees who leverage your organization’s mentoring program and seek out mentors are committed to cultivating their careers. Naturally, it’s important for mentors to make plain that extraordinary efforts to develop oneself are not a guarantee that promotion will follow. Expectations must be set judiciously. The bottom line is that employees who make an investment of time and effort in bettering themselves and their skills are likely to increase the probability of promotion or other rewards, but there is no guarantee.

That said, career mobility in today’s flattened organizations is not what it once was. Promotions and rewards in budget-constricted organizations can be few and far between. Indeed, sustaining one’s gainful employment at a status quo level is a challenge in many places.

However, these difficult times can be viewed by employees as an opportunity to “pre-position” themselves for future career gains. Once the protégé or mentee, has grasped today’s economic realities, s/he can gain motivation from the fact that they are gearing themselves up for opportunities that will eventually emerge. A large cadre of mentees who share this optimistic view and who continue to improve themselves affords vital positive energy to the enterprises that are strapped by current economic challenges.

When you are considering the possibilities for high-return HR investments, give mentoring programs a close look.

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Matrix Management: Not a Flavor of the Month

Author: ; Published: Mar 5, 2010; Category: Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , , , ; No Comments»

When it comes to designing and implementing a fully successful matrix organization, the old adage of “in for a dime, in for a dollar” comes to mind. Changes in organizational structure are not to be taken lightly.  Structural changes have enormous consequences for organizations and the people who labor in them. Everyone has the same question, “what am I supposed to do differently?” Answering this question in a definitive way that mines the considerable benefits of matrix management – and builds both competence and confidence –  takes time and deliberate effort. 

Implementation of structural change cannot nor need not take forever.  Indeed, the more systematic your approach to making these changes, the better off you will be. Progress can be and should be rapid. As our articles, Matrix Management: Method, Not Magic and Five Not-So-Easy Pieces of Matrix Management explain in more detail, effective matrix management requires planning, clarification of roles, and supportive training for standing up the matrix organization and occasionally refreshing employees at all levels as to roles, rules, tools, and the winning behaviors required for success.

A “launch-and-abandon” approach to designing, implementing or even refining your matrix organization is a formula for disappointment. Planning, persistence and follow-through are essential. By launch and abandon, we mean any major initiative announced by senior management and then left to its own devices with little or no additional investment or reinforcement.

These are hyper times. These are difficult times. Everywhere I look, I see employees striving harder than ever before to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Employees are energized, gravitating rapidly in synch with the direction that the organization seems to be moving – with the speed akin to moths moving towards a new light source.

Given the environment in which we find ourselves, it becomes all the more critical that our decisions and actions – particularly those related to structure – be sure-footed and first-time-final.  While some might argue that flavors of the month were affordable during those Halcyon days of greater resource abundance, there can be little doubt that such dalliances are no longer affordable today.

If you are in pursuit of the considerable benefits that matrix management can provide, e.g., better goal focus, customer focus, improved capacity utilization, synergy, organizational creativity and the like, then you are definitely “in for a dime, in for a dollar.”

If you are in the mood for a flavor of the month, matrix management is not the right flavor for you.

 
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