Bringing Practitioner-Focused Research to People Management Practitioners
In This Issue…
Network Mapping as a Tool for Uncovering Hidden Organizational Talent and Leadership
Workplace Bullying and Harassment: Costly Conduct
Human Resources as a Source of Competitive Advantage
Network Mapping as a Tool for Uncovering Hidden Organizational Talent and Leadership Penny Scott, Network Engagement Practitioner, Health Nexus, 2016
Many factors influence the way we experience our work today, regardless of the sector or industry in which we work. Funding pressures, constant organizational restructuring, demographic shifts and technology are fundamentally reorganizing our workplaces. In our attempts to address these changes through our traditional organizational structures we often encounter decision making bottlenecks and critical communication gaps that can affect our ability to achieve our business goals. Identifying expertise, talent and leadership amongst staff becomes crucial to succession planning initiatives to support this new work reality.
One way around this is to move from the traditional hierarchical organization chart to a more fluid and adaptive set of relationships and connections that more accurately reflect how our organizations work. This article will focus on the practice of social network mapping within organizations to deliberately leverage and engage these intra-organizational sets of informal connections that are less “hard-wired” than formal organizational working relationships.
Although it is often used when organizations are planning for a large change initiative, network mapping can also be used to quickly identify and visually map internal linkages that have been established informally across organizations. In particular, the article will highlight the applications of the tool to identify hidden talent and leadership within the organization to support succession planning initiatives and diagnose internal communication and decision making blockages.
As media scrutiny over schoolyard and cyberbullying pervade the news, allegations of workplace harassment and bullying are on the rise. Media reports reveal the deleterious and even deadly impact that bullying can have on children in our communities. Unfortunately for employers, adults in our workplaces sometimes engage in similar transgressions. While the popularization of the terms “bullying” and “harassment” has both educated and empowered employees to assert the right to a respectful workplace, it has conversely sometimes resulted in overuse of the terms and meritless complaints in relation to reasonable management measures. Employers are left with the difficult task of managing all competing interests to ensure a safe, respectful and productive work environment.
One Canadian professor previously estimated that a whopping 40% of Canadians experienced one or more acts of workplace bullying at least once a week.(1) Although it is difficult to determine exactly how much harassment and bullying actually occurs in Canadian workplaces, we can be certain of the impact of such conduct. Workplace bullying and harassment create a toxic work environment resulting in many negative effects which may include: decreasing productivity, increasing employees’ use of sick days, damaging employee morale and causing attrition of good employees. It can also result in significant legal liabilities. Considering all of these potential impacts, the tangible and intangible costs of workplace harassment and bullying can be high. This should be reason enough to motivate employers to expeditiously address such issues; however, for those not motivated by practical business measures or healthy employee relations, we should also consider the expansion of Canadian laws to protect workers from harassment and bullying, and the significant liabilities that can arise when such issues are not properly addressed.
Flashback Feature: Human Resources as a Source of Competitive Advantage Lee Dyer, 1993
(This paper was delivered by Lee Dyer at the 1993 Don Wood Lecture in Industrial Relations.)
For business it’s a tough world that’s getting tougher. The reasons are familiar enough: global competition, deregulation, finicky and tough customers, concerned and demanding stockholders, and a dizzying pace of constant change. Rare indeed is the company which has found a comfortable niche in this chaotic world.
So, the search is on for a competitive advantage, preferably one that might prove sustainable over some period of time. Business strategies are being rethought. Core competencies are being identified or, in many cases, built from scratch. Reorganization is rampant. Staid old bureaucracies are being dismantled in favour of more nimble, flexible organizational forms. New technologies and information systems are being created to harness knowledge and tie disparate organizational entities together. And, attention is turning to the human competencies and capacities it takes to bring these transformed enterprises to life.
Enter human resource strategy. Backed by a little theory, a small amount of research, and a lot of old-fashioned trial and error, many variations of such strategies are being frequently prescribed and sometimes tried in these new business environments. While there have been some real success stories, many unanswered questions remain. The key issues seem clear enough. But, there is considerable work to be done before it will be possible to make solid recommendations about employing human resources as critical success factors in the search for competitive advantage.