ISSUE 150 : Sep/Oct - 2001 - Australian Defence Force Journal

adfjournal.adc.edu.au

ISSUE 150 : Sep/Oct - 2001 - Australian Defence Force Journal

60AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE JOURNAL NO. 150 SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2001Team leadership depends on leadersbehaving consistently on the basis of a set ofclearly articulated values. The incrementaleffect of this leadership behaviour is to createmutual trust and respect. Value-basedleadership should be clearly differentiatedfrom ethics training, which typically includessuch initiatives as a code of conduct, trainingin relevant areas of law, such as antidiscriminationlegislation, and mechanismsfor reporting and investigating misconduct.These initiatives tend to encouragecompliance rather than a values-basedapproach to workplace behaviours. Anintegrity-oriented strategy is needed if selfgovernanceis important to the organisation.HR System - Friend or FoeSurvival routines continue to exist in anorganisation because they continue to berewarded. Any attempt to shift a workforcefrom survival routines to high levels ofperformance needs first of all to examine theimpact of the HR system. Does the HR systemprovide the right performance indicators?Does it provide a metric? Is the metric alignedwith the incentive structure? Are people paidto perform or for just staying on? Is the HRsystem friend or foe?Unravelling a culture of learnedhelplessness requires the HR system to shiftits emphasis away from golden handcuffs thatsimply attempt to lock people into stayingrather than performing. Survival routinesmanifest in a culture of complaint andblaming, and a skilled incompetence indealing with the root causes of the problem.Blame the quality of new recruits, blame thelack of money, blame the contractor, andblame everyone you can, but avoid the rootcauses. For example, turnover is addressedby raising the entry barrier or the exit barrier.When authority is under threat, HR isregarded as a means to manipulate employeebehaviour. Mission statements - people areour greatest asset - are used to curry favourfrom amongst employees. The success of suchstatements is dubious. It is useful to considerPeter Drucker’s critique of HR. He argues thatHR can easily degenerate into a device to“sell” whatever management is doing. “It isno accident that there is so much talk inhuman relations about ‘giving workers asense of responsibility’ and so little abouttheir responsibility, so much emphasis ontheir ‘feeling of importance’, and so little onmaking their work important.” 11Companies with the best human assetmanagement practices have an “enduringcommitment to a set of drivers: basic beliefs,traits and operating stratagems”. 12 Survivalroutines that act as barriers to achieving thiscommitment are:• Obsession with action. Managers arerewarded for activity, implementingchange and moving on, rather thananalysis. “Most companies encourageaction. Some even support risk taking.But only a few demand that people graspthe implications of a problem before theyblast off in a quest for the holy grail ofsolutions. Instead, the unspoken butclearly accepted cultural mandate is ‘Dosomething’.” 13• Process fixation. Lots of attention toimproving process at the local levelwithout clarifying how the processcontributes to the organisational-wideoutcomes.These survival routines are further abettedby the inability to analyse cause and effectrelationships. Often managers lack the skillsfor measuring the connection betweeninternal activity and organisational-wideoutcomes (e.g. quality, productivity). Goalsare not analysed in terms of the impact theyhave on the organisation. Instead, achievinggoals is seen as the end in itself.The metrics provide a way for employeesto link their behaviours to importantorganisational outcomes. These relationshipscan be tightly defined by the use of tools,

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