Sarah Roberts discusses why your employees will be running your company in five years. (Although she admits that in many ways employees are already running your company now.)
[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]
- Why Organizations Are Losing Control.In most organizations, employees are “choiceless doers.” They are directed to act in a particular way, but rarely have choices or the discretion to act. Rather, the decisions and choices are made exclusively by senior management. This approach communicates the message that employees should check their brains at the door. This leads to disengagement and declining service quality. Now, however, there are indicators that employees are not just sitting back. Some high performers are leaving the company and are not giving their best companies to the company while they are there. (You may be able to make information flow down, but can you make knowledge flow up?) Others are withholding on discretionary effort. Since their hearts are not in their jobs, they are not going above and beyond to get the job done. Meanwhile, others act subversively — just to get their jobs done.
- Change Management Must ChangeIt’s no longer about just getting buy-in. (Sarah Roberts believes that buy-in is just code for forcing people lower down the chain to agree to decisions made higher up the chain.) It’s also no longer about three-year change management plans. Since change is constant and needs to happen quickly, we no longer have the luxury of a long lead time.
- Allow Bold DiscretionRitz Carleton gives employees an allowance of $2000 per day to solve customer problems or to make a customer’s experience delightful. In reality, employees spend much less, but by giving them the freedom and resources to act, they innovate and move the company forward. This prompts employee engagement and accountability.
- Giving Up Control Need Not Mean Being Out of Control