Leaders are victims of poor deployment

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FOR so many years we have watched leaders labour under the weight of their poor deployment of candidates for posts in their organisations.

People Management Issues by Robert Mandeya

The cumulative effects of such shortcomings have been a sustained trend of organisational failures marked by law productivity and pathetic return on investment levels. This handicap is not only experienced by leaders in business but also in the public service.

Deployment of staff in an organisation is more than just being enticed by impressive grades on certificates or colourful curriculum vitae (CV) profiles. These papers can be deceiving. It goes beyond paper grades and C.V accolades. Yes, whilst the papers give us the pointers to the deployment process, they should not be the emphasis of focus. There is a human side of business to be taken care of. This is a discussion for another time.

However, most organisations understand the benefits that a longer term approach to staff planning can bring. Many actually attempt to develop staffing strategies (or strategic workforce plans, as they are also known). Unfortunately, these organisations often find that the “traditional” approaches to workforce planning that they try to use are ineffective, and expected benefits are not realised.

The answer to this problem lies not in trying to implement the traditional approach more effectively, but in implementing a completely different kind of process for strategic staffing. I will explore and try to provide some examples of those “less traditional,” but more effective approaches leaders can consider in deploying staff in certain positions. Some researches in this area have established that there is indeed a correlation between deployment and employee performance.

Some factors to consider

Deployment must take into consideration such performance factors as employee productivity, employee motivation and employee innovation and take in-depth analysis of whether they are affected by human resources programmes of deployment.

Deployment practices should be aimed at supporting employee engagement, employee motivation and increased productivity and leadership development across all levels of employees across within the organisation. Deployment is defined as the movement of staff from one’s current assignment to another to meet operational needs. We have different types of Deployment, mainly: inter-location deployment, inter-departmental deployment and re-designation deployment.

The ‘strategic staffing’ process

First, let us clarify our terms. I define “strategic staffing” as the process of identifying and addressing the staffing implications of business plans and strategies or, better still, as the process of identifying and addressing the staffing implications of change.

The impact on staffing should be defined (or at least discussed) whenever changes to business plans are being considered (whether near-term or longer-term). Others call the process “strategic workforce planning,” but to me, “strategic staffing” emphasises the longer term, business orientation of the process. There are many factors included in this effort but I will not delve into these imperatives in this discussion — maybe next time.:

However, I must point out here that high-performance levels with positive indicators make the organisation more stable while conceding high profitability, quality, and productivity, motivation and innovation standards and efficiency levels. On the flip side, low performance portends negative and dysfunctional consequences for the firm. It is important to note that where there are cases of low performance indicators, there are corresponding circumstances. I will not explore the circumstances in this instalment due to space limitations.

Limitation of traditional approaches

Most organisations that attempt to implement a strategic staffing process follow a fairly traditional approach. Usually, these organisations include staff planning as a component of their annual business planning process. Often, these organisations request that managers define future staffing needs for each year of the planning period (usually in terms of headcount, not required capabilities) using a common template or “form”.

I remember being subjected to this ordeal year after year when I was head of department in the public sector. I noticed it was the same again when I moved to a not-for-profit organisation.

As a consultant, we have carried out surveys in the business and private sectors and the trend is the same.

What has become apparent is that the templates are at a common level of detail and are based on common planning parameters (for example, all units define requirements at a job-specific level for each of the coming three years). Once completed, these templates are often combined or compiled at various levels to create overall pictures of needs (for example, unit plans are “rolled up” to a divisional level, divisional plans are compiled to create a “firm-wide” view) and so on.

Organisations then attempt to create meaningful staffing plans to address these needs. Some organisations supplement these staffing plans with a series of reports and listings (for example, a list of openings and how they were filled, a summary of turnover rates over time for various types of employees).

Unfortunately, rarely do these efforts result in specific staffing and development plans that are actually implemented. Managers tend to see limited value in the process and complain loudly about the work involved.

Unfortunately, most managers are being measured and rewarded for achieving short-term objectives that may be inconsistent with the longer-term view that strategic staffing entails. Forecasts of needs are often “hockey stick” projections that are not realistic or grounded in business plans.

The staffing plans that result from traditional processes such as these often provide little valuable information and are rarely used to drive staffing decisions. Estimates of need are imprecise and inaccurate. I can go on and on but let me rest it here for now. And as always “Shaping Minds, Transforming Organisations” is our endeavour.

Mandeya is a an executive coach in human capital development and corporate education, a certified life coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on lead.inst.dev@gmail.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com.

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