Monday, March 7, 2016

Three Questions to Assess an Employee’ “Big Picture” Business Acumen

Though not every employee is in the strategic position, every employee needs to have the right dose of "big picture" thinking!

Today's organizations have a big disconnect between talent performance management and business strategies. Often the front line employees or even middle-level management do not have a lot of clue about the “big picture” of their business, there is a lack of clear two-way (both top down and bottom up) communication and lack of clear mapping between the business's strategic goal and employees daily responsibility and their career goals. In order to bridge the gap between the strategy and execution and build purpose-driven and business savvy workforce, how to assess an employee’s “big picture” business acumen regardless of his/her specific job responsibility?

Can you articulate the business strategy briefly in one sentence? Strategy all starts with the awareness that there is a holistic perspective to business that is all encompassing, and then there are separate intertwined parts of the puzzle. The business strategy defines develops and executes value propositions, that allow to share value across the value chain, respond to the needs and expectations of customers and stakeholders at the same time - optimization. When the frontline employees can clearly articulate the strategy concisely, it means the strategy has been communicated thoroughly from the top down, also, the business has collected the necessary feedback from bottom up. When communicating a strategy or organizational changes to a team, it is important to explain the "why" behind your communication. All too often, discussions are held at a senior level where the reasons behind a strategy are talked over extensively, but those reasons are not explained to the wider audience. This can lead to teams not understanding a strategy, or not buy into it. It is also important to map vision - strategy - tactics.  By mapping strategy to execution, you need to well define the business goals (both long term and short term). What you are going to achieve could be “LONG TERM” or “SHORT TERM” goals. ‎Usually ‎companies need to measure the goals using certain KPIs which are very much to do with ‎time and investment. From talent management perspective, at many levels, there are limited people that are strategic thinkers. Just like leadership as a skill set that is needed at every level. The key is to understand who the strategic thinkers are and provide them the ability to utilize these skills to help in discussing the direction and various options a company can go.

Can you tell the culture readiness of the organization? Culture in a company is a collective mindset, attitude, and top-down behaviors and action. Hence, every person in the organization has the fair share of contribution to the business culture, either in the positive or negative way. And the spirit of an organization often comes from the top. When asking employees about the “culture thing,” it encourages them to make an objective observation of the work environment, to hunt for the culture traits such as respect, fairness, balance, creativity, feeling valued, empathy, wisdom, maturity, etc. The vivid metaphors for describing culture is the visible and invisible levels of an iceberg. The iceberg metaphor well describes the layers of culture, with values and beliefs often being under the surface. It’s nearly impossible to change the culture without bringing those underneath things to the surface, articulating them and assessing whether they are still the right ones for the current environment and future perspective. When every employee has an in-depth understanding about the culture thing, there is the better chance to make positive changes and bring wisdom to the workplace.

What is your understanding of the philosophy behind talent/performance management? The business advantage lies in the hands of people with “KASH” - Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, and Habits, who will make that vital difference in the success and failure of organizations. To be successful, leaders should know that they need to learn quickly as to how they can assign the right person for the right position at the right time, and fully unleash their potentials. Unfortunately, often time, employees won’t tell the managers what’re in their mind. Hence, managers should ask the thought-provoking questions to get their real feedback about talent/performance management. The traditional performance management more focuses on the quantitative result, the effective talent management next practices should be more structured and focus on digging deeper into the mindset level: what questions to ask, what questions not to ask, and how to using questions that elicit insightful answers and reveal the truth about the candidate/employee’s mindset and attitude; how to define different types of digital minds, how to create a structured approaches for assessing and evaluating not only the behaviors, but digging through the thought processes, how do people think, why do they think that way, and how do they approach problems and solve problems, so you can easily and consistently differentiate future high performers from mediocre mindset in your organization.

Businesses are complex and people are complex, all organizations face a challenge to evaluate the value of employees in an objective way. The organization needs to be more fact-based, more objective, more creative, and ultimately learn to earn by assessing and measuring people's personality and performance accordingly. Each valuation will obviously vary in outcomes and results as each workplace and position vary. When you look at the true value of an employee, you are looking at the return on the investment that you have made. It also looks at the overall success of the company.


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