The organizations we work in are like living organisms, after all, they are composed of human beings clustered together with a certain objective in mind. If we look at nature and its principles we can use this knowledge to better understand our organizations and make sure our HR Strategy is well defined. In continuing with this analysis, we look today at the fourth principle: Partnerships.
According to Fritjof Capra in his book “The Hidden Connections: A Science of Sustainable Living”
“The exchange of energy and resources within an ecosystem is sustained by pervasive cooperation. Life did not take over the planet by combat but by cooperation, partnership and networking.”
I like how this definition of partnership stresses the fact that if we are combating one another we can not evolve. How many times do we witness battles for who gets the budget, who can keep the talented high flyer within his/her group, who can subtly undermine a peer in order to be able to get the promotion instead? The list of examples of “combat” within an organization can be limitless. What we do not realize is the damage that these behaviors occasion. Have you not witnessed a situation where one VP was able to win the battle and keep the high potential employee only to have the person leave the company because they felt trapped and not able to continue growing? What about the group that got the budget for an idea that went nowhere while the opportunity for launching a new technology that would put us ahead of the competition was missed because it was not funded?
From an HR perspective, we need to identify if there are structural or process induced “combat” situations. Although there are organizations that consider that a highly competitive environment should lead to the survival of the best and therefore the best results, I personally think that this is not a healthy environment, that not necessarily the best are the ones who get ahead and that the organization can miss out on being great.
- Open source
- Leverages diversity
- Fosters resilience
If that is where we should be headed in order to survive, we need to look at these characteristics and analyze the processes and systems we have in place to see if they support this transformation. For example, we might discover that what we thought was a great performance management system rewards employees for individual achievements and does not take into consideration how they handle relationships or seek synergies with other teams or business units. Hutchins says that we should ensure that
“individual and collective potential is encouraged through empowerment, local ownership and shared responsibility”
It will definitely take time for organizations to transition from traditional processes to those that foster the type of environment required for the future. We also have to bear in mind that the newer generations joining our workforce are used to sharing, exchanging, seeking and expressing themselves through social media. They want to work in organizations that allow them to establish relationships beyond their work groups and they will start pushing for change.
If we want our HR Strategy to be successful, we need to analyze all our processes and programs from the perspective of the business results we seek and of the cultural and relationship based attributes that will help drive those results.