Professionalism

High performance and agile organisations are based on professionalism rather than loyalty or faithfulness. Professionalism means changing the emphasis from "mate-ocracy to merit-ocracy" with a reduction in cronyism and homogeneity. In contrast, the loyalty organisation is Globalisation increases outsourcing, offshoringbased upon

- subservience to the system which is the fundamental principle

- internal class (people are invited in and/or apply to join) and career structures which govern relationships and rewards

- obedience to higher authority is demanded

- diffused and non-specific accountability

- loyalty or commitment to a cause.

The new professional relationship paradigm threatens to outperform loyaltyor faithfulness, though not necessarily to destroy it. Loyalty or faithfulness is so psychologically ingrained in some organisations that it is considered to be the glue that holds the organisation together.

On the other hand, when organisations try to manufacture loyalty, they risk creating its opposite - cynicism.

Business in market economies is usually seen as a war involving winners and losers. As a result, loyaltyor faithfulness is offered as a prime conceptual framework for managing the firm for competitive war. Individuals are assessed for skills and abilities, and then sorted into a rigid organisational structure. Income, status and decision-making prerogatives are all determined by one's place in the (class) structure. In this structure, each individual is expected to do the tasks allocated and to conform to the hierarchical requirements of the organisation. In short, the loyalty or faithfulness to the organisation is above all other considerations. In return, the organisation protects its staff against the harsh realities of the outside world.

The pay-offs for loyaltyor faithfulness include financial security, longevity of employment, security in retirement and a sense of place and purpose in the organisation's structure. The principles of command and control are dependent on the loyalty or faithfulness-driven mindsets. In recent times, mergers, acquisitions and downsizing have demonstrated that loyalty to individuals by organisations is only acknowledged when it suits the organisation's purposes.

Loyalty has always required the willing sacrifice of the employee's sense of, and desire for, freedom to the higher demands of the organisation. This type of environment of loyalty or faithfulness at all cost can generate a culture of silence, fear, transference of blame and loss of personal integrity.

Ultimately, the loyalty or faithfulnesssystem creates a culture of subservience to the whims and personal ambitions of the corporate elite. Such a culture makes it impossible for an organisation's performance to achieve the full potential of its staff. In extreme cases, loyalty or faithfulness diminishes accountability, ie errors, corruption and general under-performance are absorbed and acceptable. In these situations, loyalty can produce a major psychological dysfunction, with loyalty limiting ambition and demanding conformity.

Individual entrepreneurship threatens loyalty or faithfulness. Organisations not requiring loyalty want professionalism instead. Professionalism is a state of mind: it is one's ability to perform, to demand clarity in performance expectations and to accept only those performance expectations that can reasonably be met. It means accepting that the organisational structure is not all-powerful, and that the organisation is not bigger than the individuals who work for it. It means everything is open to question on a daily basis. It accepts that culture is a product of the people in the organisation, and as people change and come and go, the culture changes.

Community and culture are not things that are made; they simply emerge and evolve. Organisations that do not demand loyalty have one focus: the delivery of results to match the needs of its markets. Every part of the organisation has a market focus.

Consequently, organisations based on professionalism involve these elements

- the system itself is subject to accountability

- clear contractual expectations drive relationships

- there is market focus at all levels

- accountability is exact and identifiable

- individuals command their destiny

The "war for talent", ie too few suitable people available, has laid the basis for the changes to the structural forces and a paradigm shift; as Jason Cartwright, 2004 states "

Old Reality

New Reality

People need the organisation

Organisations need people

Machines, capital & geography are the competitive advantage

Talented people are the competitive advantage

Better talent makes some difference

Better talent makes huge differences

Jobs are scarce

Talented people are scarce


Employees are loyal & jobs are scarce

People are mobile & their commitment is short-term

People accept the standard package they are offered

People demand much more

HR is responsible for people management

All managers, starting with CEO, are accountable for strengthening their talent pool

We provide good pay & benefits

We shape our organisation, our jobs, even our strategy to appeal to talented people

Recruiting is like purchasing

Recruiting is like marketing

We think development happens in training programs

We fuel development primarily through stretch jobs, coaching and mentoring

We treat everyone the same and like to think that everyone is equally capable

We affirm all people, but invest differentially in A, B & C players"

On the other hand, several high-profile corporate collapses, such as Enron, have emphasised the need to rank and reward staff on performance more than talent and/or intelligence.

Success does not come from how much one knows but how well one learns. The knowledge base is always changing, so acquiring knowledge has become less important than knowing how to find and use the knowledge warehouses. The ability to learn quickly and well and to keep learning throughout one's life is the key. Furthermore, learning requires time to reflect, assimilate and practise.

The development and sustenance of strong and mutually beneficial relationships with major stakeholders (customers, owners, community and employees) is vital in achieving peak-performance organisation. All stakeholders need to be informed, conduct open and honest communications and recognise the need to handle change, and that change is a continuous process that takes time, ie have developed and implemented long-term strategies.

Furthermore, there is thecorporate club of good citizenship or corporate social responsibility (CSR) including climate change. Organisations are expected to make a positive contribution to their employees, the environment and to society.

Need to understand the generational differences. In fact, there is a trend to "reverse mentoring" where junior staff mentor senior executive on such topics as the use of the Internet and their generational aspirations

With the uncertainty and turbulence in the world, staff members need to be "comfortable with the uncomfortable and unknowns" - to see them as positive challenges and opportunities and not as negative threats

 

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