Whats on my mind at the moment

The MJ logoWhat's on my mind at the moment is creating an environment in organisations where staff are really engaged and feel great about both their organisation and their ability to make a difference.

My organisation, the NPIA, recently got a slating in the trade press for getting a poor staff survey result 5 months after the organisation was formed. What a surprise! Any merger or transfer situation creates uncertainty and anxiety in staff. I have no particular concerns about a less than fantastic set of results at start up time. Our target is now working towards the next survey and making sure that as an organisation our people feel good about their participation.

Creating real staff engagement is not an easy task but it shouldn’t be seen as impossible. I always think that the journey can be mapped against Maslow’s hierarchy of need. For warmth and food read the basics of any organisation;

  • IT that works
  • Decent communication systems
  • Appropriate accommodation
  • Pay, recruitment and other basic functionalities in place

Make no mistake; if the basics are not in place, engagement will not occur. If everyday is a struggle to get through Byzantine layers of jobsworth rule books engagement is a distant Nirvana.

There are so many organisations that are unable to deliver what employees really need. Most people want to see some consistency in their working lives at the same time they want flexibility; two seemingly opposite aspirations. I don’t believe they are. We can give our people faith that there can be order in their working lives yet room to be creative and flexible and try new ideas.

What we have to continue to fight against as HR professionals and business people is the inappropriate use of the rule book and remunerations systems that reward unthinking conformance and take away from the ethos of an organisation where social and moral mores are reasons for doing the right thing. The organisation where staff comply dutifully through fear of stepping outside inane process, or to get the extra £200 quid per year in bonus are failing us, our people and our communities. So let’s not stop ripping up the rule books, binning the crappy strategies, sidelining the jobsworths, killing the labour intensive rubbish processes. Let's concentrate on giving people back meaning in their daily lives, creating communities at work that our people can belong to, remembering that our people are humans with feelings, wants and needs.

Let’s get back to basics and remember that the people in the people strategies we create are living, breathing humans who are more than a collection of drones to be subject to the Taylorist principles of unimaginative organisations.

Angela O'Connor
Chief People Officer
National Policing Improvement Agency
Past President PPMA