The Point: A program that encourages productive behavior and skills in employees can be a powerful tool for boosting the organization’s productivity. It is also an important element of any successful business transformation. So why do so many leaders get it wrong? In this series, we’re going to explore building employee capabilities, or skills for business transformation… Enjoy!
Imagine this: An international manufacturing company employing thousands is separated from its parent. Within a year, the stock price of an international manufacturing corporation with thousands of workers drops by more than 80 percent. Morale plummets and the company’s health measures fall into the bottom quartile of its industry. Something is here… very wrong.
What you think is happening as a leader, versus what actually is happening is typically very different!Sam Palazzolo, Managing Director @ Tip of the Spear Ventures
Four years later, the stock price of the company has increased sixfold. The corporation has moved from the bottom to the second quartile in terms of organizational health. Employees feel more connected and are invested in the company’s success. With increased discipline and better risk management, plant safety has been dramatically improved. Customers are astonished at the improvements and have celebrated them. One customer even called the CEO to tell him that the manufacturer would be his preferred vendor moving forward.
What changed? This real-life example shows how a manufacturing company transformed its performance and organizational health. It also changed the way it looked at “capabilities,” which are the hard and soft skills required to help organizations achieve and sustain their full potential.
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We know that many companies fail to meet their potential when it comes enterprise-wide transformations. Although most organizations understand the importance of having a motivated and skilled workforce, they don’t spend enough time or resources on developing them. It is easy to overlook an opportunity that could be irreplaceable, while the priorities are elsewhere. Others might find foundational capability building too easy. The CEO and organizational leadership might think that we already do this. However, we have found that what seems like common sense in an organization is not often practiced across the organization, which leaves room for better performance. In other words, common sense is NOT so common.
Capability building is more than just training employees. It’s about fundamentally changing the way work is done. It is also a great way to get people involved in supporting the transformation, from the top to the bottom. It is almost impossible to achieve and sustain a successful transformation without that energy. Companies can build the capability to achieve transformational gains. They also add to their gains over time by establishing an execution engine that will continuously improve value.
This article will discuss the key elements of a strong capability-building program. As the global manufacturing corporation went through a holistic transformation, we show that empowering employees with new skills can not only enable sustainable change at large scale, but also help the bottom line.