Workforce alignment requires that you have the right types of people, in the right places at the right times, doing the right things right.  In this article I will discuss how to get your employees in the right places at the right times by managing them effectively.

Yes, effective management is the second leg to my smart guide to human resource and management and the second element to effective workforce alignment.  We know that we need to convey a better understanding of our business needs by defining and communicating our long-term company strategy and plan to our employees and that we need to recruit for the person-future fit, aligning our hiring strategies to our long-term business strategy.  But how do we manage our employees better to become more productive and our business more profitable?

Formal Processes and Procedures and Professional Standards

Researchers at the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University in 2005 found that two related practices assist in this process – formal processes and procedures and professional standards

More often than not experience shows that the smart way to manage is to provide employees a written understanding of their job duties and responsibilities – job descriptions and formal processes and procedures – descriptions of how the work they are charged with performing is done –

All too often, in my experience, businesses do not have a written set of job duties for their employees – job descriptions – that contain the essential responsibilities of the job and which also outline the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively perform the job.

The Employee – Management Disconnect

managing smartIn these instances when I speak with employees about their roles and how these roles relate to the overall goals of the business I often find that employees may not understand a company’s strategy nor how their role and function fits to fulfill that strategy.  As a result they will not perform to their full potential – they are less productive and less effective.  Role confusion anyone?

Additionally, we may also place employees into job roles that do not utilize their natural talents – their strengths and capabilities.  Instead, we may ask them to perform functions that ask them to rely on their weaknesses.  The work may get done, but it may not get done as well as it could otherwise.  In situations as this I have found it may be more advantageous to shift the job functions to rely more on an employee’s strengths.

Once employees have specific information about their duties and responsibilities and they understand the company’s business strategy and focus it becomes important that we enable professional standards to ensure effective alignment.

Upon hiring most employees receive a certain level of training to become proficient in their job.  Provided that we have selected them correctly for their future potential and we have trained them effectively doesn’t it make sense that we should create an environment for the successful completion of their responsibilities?

Performance Standards – Set By Whom?

When developing performance evaluation and appraisal systems I often ask employees what standards they believe should be used to monitor their performance.  Oftentimes the standards suggest a self-enforcing mechanism.  Employees want to be trusted to be able to know how to get the job done right.  They want to be able to innovate, experiment, be creative – they want the standards to enable that capability to be more successful.

Practical standards in this sense, then, suggest that the employer and employees work together to create meaningful performance standards that help foster greater productivity.  Combined with formal processes and procedures, you can then have the two effective practices to managing smart.

As you look at your business, ask yourself – are you using smart management practices?  How well is your workforce aligned for positive, long-term company growth? What can you do now to foster that alignment and increase your business growth?  In our next installment we will discuss the third part to this equation – motivating smart.