The Direction of Organizational Learning

In the 1990s, Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline, the Art and Practice of the Learning was ground breaking, and was instrumental in changing the world of organizational behaviour and development.

However, there is a new concept on the block that is taking organizational learning theory to new heights. It is called Deliberate Developmental Organization (DDO). This has been created by a team of authors and researchers who comprise an organization called Way to Grow Inc.* This team, which includes faculty members from Harvard and a doctoral student from Stanford-PGSP, has produced a book called, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization.

According to the research behind the book, the organizations that do well are ones that are deeply aligned with an individual’s greatest motivation, which is to develop within an organizational culture that supports growth. This concept expands on Dan Pink’s motivational theory that an individual’s greatest motivator is to develop.

The authors of An Everyone Culture posit that most employees devote a significant amount of energy to a second, unpaid, job – i.e., the work of covering their weaknesses and managing others’ impressions of them. They believe this is the biggest cause of wasted resources in most companies.

Their solution is the creation of an organizational culture that doesn’t waste energy, but focuses it on developing people. According to the DDO concept, employee weakness is a strength, and errors represent opportunities to develop.

Click here to read an extended whitepaper on this approach by Robert Kegan et al.

Imagine working for an organization where you could truly be your authentic self and continuously improve on your weakness. Would that be a dream job or a nightmare? Something to think about!

Discussion Questions:

— Having reviewed the extended whitepaper by Kegan et al., do you think you would like to work in a company with a well-developed DDO culture? Explain why/why not.

— Have you had an experience where you feel you had a weakness at school or work? What was the weakness? Were you allowed to expose it? Did you have support in overcoming it? If yes, what was the outcome? If no, what was the outcome?

* To learn more about Way to Grow Inc, visit www.waytogrowinc.com.

 

Pink Ops — Self-Leadership Gaining Traction

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When you see the words “Pink Ops” you might think of some covert military operation that has a cute name to distract you from its real mission objectives. However, “Pink Ops” is what the Brenda Rigney, Vice President of Nurse Next Door Inc., a provider of home health care services, calls her department. It is an interesting term that includes people, marketing, operations, care services, and IT.

What is interesting about Brenda Rigney and her Pink Ops department is her philosophy on leadership, training, and employee engagement.

Click here to read about the Nurse Next Door Inc. self-leadership training.

To get a deeper understanding of Brenda Rigney’s philosophy we first have to look into her thoughts about active questions. It is that philosophy that leads into her company goal of self-leadership and employee engagement. Nurse Next Door believes in “intentional conversations”. According to Rigney, that means staff being trained to communicate with customers more effectively, and to listen to and connect with people better, rather than depending on managers to do it for them.

The above is really their core training outcome for their frontline employees’ self-leadership development and it seems to be working.

Rigney expands this concept of intentional conversation from her reading of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, Triggers, which advocates moving from passive questions to active questions. According to Goldsmith, organizations can achieve intentional conversations, which will create better employee engagement.

Click here to read Brenda Rigney’s summary on Marshall Goldsmiths’ active question technique.

Every year organizations spend millions of dollars on employee training — maybe it is time to consider moving from passive conversations to active conversations to get better employee engagement results.

 

Discussion Questions:

    1. In order to deepen your understanding of the power of active questions click on this link, watch the video, and try to answer Marshall Goldsmith’s daily questions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWpUqXFe4Fw
    2. You have been asked by your VP of HR to create a short presentation about how to improve employee engagement using active questions. Create a five-minute executive summary on this topic.

 

Failure to Perform: Part 2

Reach a goal concept with businessman running on a treadmill for money
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What are the researchers saying about performance incentive plans?

Daniel Pink is a world-renowned leading author on workplace motivation and performance. He has done some compelling research and has developed some very interesting insights on what really motivates us to perform. His studies were well-designed and replicated in North America and in other countries.

The research is very interesting and at times confusing. Sometimes money is a motivator and improves performance, but there are times money is not a motivator and actually leads to poorer performance. Many organizations, managers and HR departments do not truly understand the complex interaction of money as an incentive to employee’s behaviours. Here is a short video clip that does a great job at summarizing his motivational research.

Click here to find out want Daniel Pink’s money motivation secrets are.

Daniel Pink also provides us with three key insights on how to truly motivate individual performance. Some companies have one insight, some have two, but very few companies use all three of Daniel Pink’s insights to get the best performance out of their employees. How can HR lead the way and bring this type of research into business operations?

Discussion Questions

  1. After watching the video clip explain when money is a good motivator for individual performance and when is it not?
  2. What are the three key insights to motivation? Why is it so difficult for organizations to implement these key insights to obtain greater employee performance?

Pay for Production

Are you paying for hours, or for productivity? The difference could be huge.

Woman balancing life and work
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All organizations need to develop an effective compensation strategy that is aligned with their business strategy; that is HR and Business 101.

Many compensation consultants discuss the concepts of base pay, performance pay and indirect pay, and most of those concepts are built on the foundation of an annual salary or hourly wage. Our society has been ingrained into the concept that a full-time employee works eight hours a day and 40 hours a week for approximately 2000 hours a year. It just can’t be any other way, most HR professionals would say.

  • What if our society’s concept of the paid hour of work for eight hours a day is a flawed concept?
  • Is eight hours the most productive number of hours per day to work?
  • Are there any alternatives?

Well, some researchers and some businesses are exploring alternatives to the eight-hour day and seeing very productive results. Tower Paddle Board, a manufacturer of stand up paddle boards (SUP), moved to a five-hour work day and a five-percent profit sharing model.

  • What was the result?
  • Was it higher costs?
  • Was there lower productivity and greater customer complaints?

I bet you can guess the answer to those questions was a big and bold: NO!

The opposite was true: workers’ wages went from $20.00 per hour to $38.40 per hour for 25 hours a week, and annual revenues were up 40 percent. Also, they have been named one of America’s fasting growing companies.

Click here to read about Tower Paddle Boards.

Discussion Questions

  1. Read the article about Tower Paddle Boards. Review the five steps Tower Paddle Boards used to implement a 25-hour work week. Pick a company and see if you could use those five steps to make a 25-hour work week work for that organization.
  2. Conduct some research online to learn about how other countries and companies schedule their work week. Come up with your own ideas for alternatives to the 40-hour work week.

Motivation Gone Mad

Concept of failure of a businessman--man fed to sharks
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Our compensation studies focus on the push and pull of organizational rewards systems, and their direct link to employee behaviours. These systems are built on theories of human motivation, which guide our thinking about the way employees are supposed to react and respond in order to achieve organizational goals.

Usually these rewards systems focus on positive outcomes based on targeted goals. Positive outcomes are meant to reinforce constructive employee behaviours. What happens, however, when the pressure to achieve an expected goal overwhelms the employee’s ability to behave in a positive way?

The TD Bank Group has been in the news recently due to its targeted sales practices that have resulted in allegations of unethical and possibly illegal employee behaviours.

Click here to view the CBC report.

Click here to view the follow up CBC report.

While the allegations by employees in these reports are shocking, the revenue goals for the bank have been achieved. Bank profits have increased. Sales targets have been met. Underperforming employees have been placed on ‘Performance Improvement Plans’ to align expected behaviours with targeted sales-based performance objectives.

The questions must be asked: At what cost? Do the ends, in this particular situation, really justify the means?

This case appears to provide an extreme example of fear-based motivation. Fear of job-loss overrides the ethical judgement of employees and forces them into negative behaviours. The negative behaviours have a lesser consequence for employees than that of losing their jobs. In the context of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory (outlined in our compensation studies), job-loss for these employees means that they will be unable to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families. The choice to ensure that an employee’s personal food and shelter needs are met has a stronger pull than making ethically sound decisions for others.

This case points an accusing finger, not at the individual employees, but at the senior executive managers within the TD Bank Group, and at the system of rewards that are in place to motivate and influence the whole.

Discussion Questions:

  1. After reviewing the two articles, identify specific elements of motivational theory that are evident in employee reactions.
  2. As a bank manager, what types of rewards would you implement in order to influence employees to achieve profit-related targets?
  3. As an employee required to achieve these types of sales targets, how would you respond? What decisions would you make based on your personal ethics and values?