Anyone who has worked in several organizations either as an employee or as a consultant has most likely observed that there are many approaches to building effectiveness and efficiency in organizations large and small and in every industry. Often-times, we do benchmarking against competitors, surveys, and we use Best Practices.
As an H.R. professional for over 20 years, I have been a member of a number of teams implementing standardized processes, training, and Best Practices, always finding to my dissatisfaction that there were gaps or trade-offs between our needs and these solutions. There came a time when a revelation hit me like a lightning bolt: Pre-packaged training, standardized systems and procedures and Best Practices are generic, and in being generic they are incomplete. Further, being generic, they make us behave or operate like other companies, rather than building on our unique differences.
When we think about this, it makes sense. How could any one-size-fits-all solution meet the needs of lots of businesses? Each organization has its own business strategy, a workforce of its own unique composition, its own culture, and its own employee development needs. Additional differences impacting organizational needs include, for example, size, history, status as a start-up or a more mature business, in high-growth, undergoing re-structuring, recently acquired, privately owned, publicly traded, traditional, progressive — we could go on and on listing factors that combine to make each company unique, with different needs. Therefore, there can be no one generic set of tools and processes that will fit the specific needs of companies across the board.
So, it is incumbent upon us as leaders to customize our tools, systems, and processes. Customization is the key to reaping the full potential benefit of initiatives, tools, systems or practices from Lean, to Performance Reviews and everything in between, such as Development Programs, Applicant Tracking, Inventory Tracking, Succession Planning, Values, Metrics, Incentive Plans or Competencies.
What’s the key to customization? Alignment with the business strategy should be at the heart of any customization effort in order to ensure high impact results and a good fit with the needs of the business and its people. Different projects may also take into account additional factors, but the business strategy should be central.
We believe that the investment in customization is one that pays off in the long run…and sometimes in the short term, as well.