How to efficiently design the flow of work for your employees that is around your organisational purpose?
It is when you discover the answer to this question that you will arrive at a blissful intersection. One where your organisation's overarching purpose and that of your employees' are roughly facing the same direction. And you deserve a pat on the back now because, as we have seen, this is the optimal position for any business looking to lift off to the next level. If you have joined our narrative of having, and sharing, a common purpose, now is the time to brush up.
When you have a purpose, you have a destination. But it would help if you also had a roadmap to reach the latter. It's no good knowing where you want to be if all you end up hitting are roadblocks and potholes all day. If anything, it's more frustrating.
Which is why the next milestone in the PURPOSE journey is the designing of optimal 'people ecosystems'. That is, processes and protocols (or the calculated lack of them) help teams work and collaborate along 'meaningful' channels. These channels are circuits that not only get tasks done but keep workers engaged, productive and happy. Because at some level, in some way, they resonate with the workers' raw aptitudes, native character and cherished quirks.
We can loosely define this as a hybrid blend of several metrics such as your:
- Organizational culture
- Stakeholder hierarchies
- HR policies
- Decision structures
We have described it 'loosely' both because it's not an exact science (no self-respecting people property should ever claim to be because mindsets change), and also because it is - by its very nature - a living, evolving paradigm.
Every organization needs to continuously keep re-visiting its people ecosystem now and then to ensure that it is relevant. If you are a KPI kind of a person, there's only one box you have to tick after all the dust has settled: Are you giving your people an environment where they can do their best work?
On to the big question, therefore: How DO you go about designing your people-verse? Well, begin by building your workflows around your workers, instead of the other way round. Let us look at a few ways to efficiently design the flow of work.
Let purpose be central to efficiently design the flow of work
Define your jobs in the context of your employee, instead of the reverse. When you logically build-in the abilities (a parameter that is visceral to 'higher purpose') of your workers into the process of problem-solving (task-flows), you instantly give yourself a significantly higher probability of success. Break down skill sets granularly to build a humane, agile and fluid 'competency bank' (as opposed to 'tasks walled-in by draconian protocols') that assigns the job to the worker with the closest talent-task match.
Do keep in mind that HR needs to be a part of this strategy too. Meaning that HR policies and norms need to be reviewed and re-imagined around this 'passion-first' model, and not as a parallel exercise somewhere in the isolation of Fort Knox.
The three things your exciting new 'people-verse' (purpose universe) needs to address and simplify at any given time are:
- Ease of creating goals
- Agility in assigning roles
- Keeping loops of communication and feedback open.
Redesigning the way you work – which in all probability will involve stepping out of your comfort zone - is tricky, so don't lose heart if you run into a brick wall initially. Anything worth it takes time. Old-timers may raise their eyebrows, puritans may even start questioning your sanity, but that's okay (they did the same thing to Galileo!). Of course, if you have established a culture of healthy curiosity and inquiry -which should necessarily be the first step in any quest - it will be far easier to take on the status quo, and later on, reach consensus on innovations and overhauls.
Think 'Design Thinking'
Make it easier for yourself by employing the principles of Design Thinking here. Challenge convention and cliches at every point with lateral logic, and you'll find that 'alternative ways' are not only spontaneously suggesting themselves, but beginning to make more sense.
Deploy the classic principles of Design Thinking from end to end:
Remember that it does not necessarily have to be in that order always. That final step there - Testing– will involve close monitoring, real-time refining and non-stop iterations till you get the recipe just right.
Try The 'Tour'
Trying a 'Gallery Walk' can add a healthy dose of intuition into this universe. Here's how the concept works in brief. In a Gallery Walk, you create post-it notes out of the various insights collected from employees around their targets, needs and pain-points (in a way, how the ideal 'people process' would look like to them). These post-it notes are then hung on a wall (the 'Gallery', if you will).
Key stakeholders and decision-makers are now invited to take a 'Tour' of this Gallery, as they scribble down points and make a note of perspectives they find essential to designing a 'Purpose-Driven' workflow. Gallery Walks allow for everyone's needs to be democratized and incorporated. It also rules out random bias and judgement, laying down the foundation of an organizational structure that is genuinely rooted synced with what matters: People who will be using it day in, day out.
Xoxoday Empuls groups facilitate as great tools for making this 'gallery walk' virtual and well-documented. You can create dedicated channels for these walk-throughs and ask employees to give their inputs as channel feeds. Leadership team could use these threads to further seek clarity or have a discussion around it. All the while, these discussions will be well documented for a future reference.
What you have just accomplished is immense: You put the worker bang in the middle, on top of things, and in charge. You empower people this way – trusting them with decision-making ability. Meanwhile, you are also putting your money (authority, if you will) where your money is, and proving that your mission statement is more than talk. It triggers a domino effect, leading to happier members, a culture of diversity & inclusivity and morale buoyancy that drives productivity exponentially. Everything multiplies - from involvement to ownership to outcomes.
A Workflow That Feels Less' Work', More' Flow'
If you have managed to construct this bespoke, purposeful work ecosystem successfully, the chances are that it is built on 'in-the-moment' intent and 'on-the-spot' sense. An intuitive, solution-facing, self-learning matrix that instinctively factors in unpredictability and peripherals, and keeps 'correcting course' to ensure that jobs are accomplished smartly. In other words, at minimal levels of sweat, time and resource.
Not just that. An inherently organic process is also usually transparent, and the ideal soil for planting a behaviour-informed environment where effort is minutely recorded, attitude is reasonably recognized, and performance is justly rewarded.