A common complaint made about recent generations of North American parents is that we have over-parented our kids. Between obsessing over their moods, their marks, their behavior and their free time, our focus has shifted from the children to all of the activities and processes which we need to be performing.
An analogy could be made with resource management.
Let’s take resource planning or workload management.
In matrix organizations, complicated processes and tools get implemented to answer the deceptively simple question “what’s Bob going to work on over the next few months?”. Inevitably, the data captured becomes the focus of scrutiny with both functional and project managers complaining about its inaccuracy while simultaneously being reluctant to invest the effort which will be required to improve quality.
However, the more direct approach of having staff review their own data and confirm or correct allocations is rarely utilized. We like to think that we are helping our team members to take greater ownership for their work, but if this doesn’t start with their planned allocation, are we truly empowering them?
A second example relates to personal development.
Many organizations have instituted annual personal development planning cycles and established targets for the percentage of staff who are expected to have plans defined and updated. The cumulative effort involved with this process is significant which can become a source of frustration for staff and their managers.
The upside of these practices is that it prevents people managers from neglecting their crucial role in supporting development planning. But any team member who is truly interested in their personal growth will have already invested effort in development planning.
Why do we believe that mandating “compliance for all” will inspire the remaining staff to better themselves, especially when we set deadlines on completing the planning and don’t account for their existing workloads?
Why not test my assertion with your own organization? Create a simple value-stream map for key resource management processes and highlight those steps which directly engage the resource. If it’s less than 25%, are your practices truly staff-focused?
Increasing employee engagement has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years, but in the process, we’ve forgotten that to achieve this, “employee” comes before “engagement”!