“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell (http://www NULL.brainyquote NULL.com/quotes/authors/g/george_orwell NULL.html)
I do not think anyone share that sentiment from Orwell’s Animal farm. But are we accidentally triggering a behavior that make the above look like a rather horrible reality?
In our work life we all share one common need – no matter what position we have – and that is:
TO FIND SOMEONE TO ASK WHEN WE HAVE A QUESTION OUTSIDE OUR IMMEDIATE EXPERTISE!
So why then do “competence optimizations” make our reptile brain take over rational thoughts? Is there a corporate tiger hiding in the bushes?
We all use it, we all need it and we all want it. We count on it in our private lives – if we need an electrician for some work at home we use search engines/specialized competence web sites to find a local, well known and reliable competence to help us with what we are not able to do ourselves.
So why do we react in a contradictory way when it comes to work and when we as individuals are one of the people that can be searched and found? Might it be associated with some hidden danger signals that are influencing us?
Is it the reptile brain screaming?
- Why do they want to know what I can do in such detail? I am good at my job… are there going to be organizational changes? (Will I lose my job…?)
- Why do they want to know what my team/department is good at? Are they going to move people from my department? How are we going to finish projects in time? What if my top resources suddenly want/are asked to change area?
Is this the reasons why many competence optimization projects cross unit/department/country/borders seldom bear tangible fruits…
Are we treating this as some kind of other animal than it really is?
Looking back a couple of years, I have met a number of companies that have begun trying to address this. But for some reason it usually turn out to be approached as a technology or tool animal … and it can often only be utilized by HR or sourcing. To be able to address the challenge around utilizing competence cross company it has to be available for the whole organization.
Is it a technology animal?
In conjunction with this subject, the technology is not an issue – there are multiple solutions available that can make use of all the information sources in a company and offer advice on finding out who knows what. Most companies already have different sources and tools that might be used for this purpose without having to re-build a system from scratch.
Or is it perceived as a predator?
What if this animal transforms into something totally different when put in practice – and is perceived as a predator and threat rather than a possibility for you personally. Is this the reason why competence optimization is staying Utopia instead of becoming reality?
What if this is a chameleon and transforms depending on what angle you come from?
Competence optimization is a positive thing – it enables growth and development for employees. It generates investments and business for companies. We all want it, independently on what we do.
- Could one reason for this staying Utopia be that we need to change how we communicate?
- Is it the ‘internal business case’ (i.e. what’s in it for you as an individual) that should be the focus?
- Can it be that we need to communicate differently with different stakeholders internally?
- Are we compartmentalizing those projects which in theory should break the silo behavior?
The usual reason to why we want to map and chart our internal resources is that we can fill interesting positions, boost projects and job rotate to increase knowledge sharing and productivity. All of those are valid reasons. But maybe we are failing to communicate ‘what’s in it for you’ as an individual.
In Part 2 of this blog post we will take a look at some common approaches to competence optimization – and why they might fail. And finally an example from the master of job rotation…
PS. By the way – a nice suggestion for a possible new position – but – not interested. I actually believe that I am the right person – in the right place – at the right time – where I am right now!