Four Key Questions

March 30, 2015

There are a number of really key questions to ask yourself when reviewing your organisation:

1) Are my employees motivated?
2) Is it absolutely clear what each of them is supposed to do?
3) Do they have the necessary skills to do their jobs?
4) Is everyone aware of what the company is trying to achieve and how it intends to accomplish it?

These are probably the most important people issues in a company and they hold the key to its success. If the answer to each of these questions is anything other than a firm ‘yes’ your company is in trouble.

The importance of having motivated employees
It is quite easy to sit in the office and looking as though you are working but only putting in 50 per cent of what you are capable of doing. Apart from clock-watching or leaving work early, there are few ways of assessing one person’s potential impact on the business so you have to rely on people pushing themselves. To do this they must feel a part of the business and bound up with its success.
They will only feel this if they are working in a good environment (relative to their job), with the skills necessary to do their job, with sufficient degrees of freedom to act without having to refer everything to their boss and knowing that success and effort will be recognised and rewarded.

Often people do not know exactly what is expected from them
Most companies now issue people with job descriptions but they vary massively in their usefulness. In fact most that I have seen are largely worthless.
Apart from a list of key tasks and objectives, a job description should ideally contain details of relationships with other people in the organisation and also a person’s description describing the skills and attributes needed to do the job. It should also have details of typical budget responsibilities making clear what he/she can spend without reference and what requires the involvement of others in the decision-making.

Any mismatch between the skills required to do a job and a person’s capabilities must be identified
Often we say that so and so is good at his/her job (or quite good or, perhaps poor). What does that mean? Presumably that a job requires a number of skills to be carried out successfully and that some of those skills are performed well (or badly). If the tasks that together compose a job have not been properly identified then it stands to reason that the skills needed to complete those tasks have not been formally identified and the capabilities of the person whose job it is, cannot be judged. Once the skills have been identified, then and only then can the training needs for the person who does the job be identified.

Shared goals
Imagine a football team where the tactics have not been worked out. All you know is that you are a winger and have some at least of the skill-set required of a winger. You also know that your ball needs to end up in the opponent’s net.
Is that enough to beat your opponents? Of course not. You need to know not only that you want the ball in the back of an opponent’s net (the ‘goal or objective’) but you also need to understand and build on the interactions between you and the other ten people on your side in order to get into a position to create the goal. It is not enough therefore just to do your job. You need to have an understanding of what is happening all over the field/company and how your activities interrelate.
Personally, I view these questions and the analysis that leads from them to be among the most important issues for senior management to address.