360° Support Systems: Discussing The Benefits
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360° Support Systems: Discussing The Benefits

Meet Bob, an ordinary employee in an average company. How do we get extraordinary performance out of the Bobs of this world in order to make their organizations exceptional?

The Motivation Behind This Article

The adage, that "a picture is worth a 1,000 words," often holds true. In using the above cartoon to create a fictional case study, I am hoping that the image and story will stay in the readers' memories and serve to stimulate a way of thinking that will truly leverage the opportunities that the significant developments in LMS (Learning Management System) technology bring.

Our Fictional Case Study

Imagery can help us to remember and stimulate our thinking about possibilities. The following story is illustrative and not intended to be perfect in every detail, so please bear with me.

The Status Quo

Bob is an ordinary employee in an ordinary company. His job title is "Egg Collector." In his mind, he works hard and deserves an excellent rating in his annual performance appraisal.

The Managing Director (MD) of the company that Bob works for is concerned that, although most employees appear to be working hard, productivity is not what it could be.

In an attempt to improve productivity, the MD supported a proposal by the Learning and Development (L&D) team to invest in an LMS. The LMS has been through a number of iterations. The LMS journey has moved from it being an eLearning delivery and management system to a blended learning support system and now, in addition, a Performance Support System.

Bob's learning journey has progressed with the changes to the LMS. His first experience was in doing an online course to meet certain regulatory and compliance requirements. Later, he did an online course in "Small-scale Egg Production." This involved a blended teaching approach around learning theory through online video lectures and case studies as well as some practical exercises involving classroom work and group exercises. Latterly, Bob has been informed that the LMS also provides performance support to help him to solve problems that occur on-the-job, without him leaving the workflow. He recently used this capability to find out why so many of the eggs were cracked. The outcome was that he sent an email to the Supplies Department to ask them to add a food supplement to the chicken feed. It doesn't seem to have helped, but Bob feels that he has done his duty.

Bob's mindset is that whilst he is working hard, other teams are letting the Company down.

  • The Supplies Department are not ensuring that there is not enough of the right food and freshwater for the hens.
  • The Building Management Department have not built a fence to keep the hens safe.
  • The Repairs and Maintenance Department are not keeping his baskets properly maintained.
  • Management does not have a breeding plan in place to ensure that there are enough hens.

Do these sound familiar?

The Opportunity

The MD decides to seek advice and settles on a systematic, holistic approach that seems logical to her. The good news is that she is able to leverage the existing LMS investment to use a methodology that involves all employees in the ongoing process of building and maintaining high performance in a productive, healthy work environment.

This requires integrating an ODS (Organization Development System) and a PMS (Performance Management System) into the LMS. The ODS involves a holistic approach to ongoing organization development, using survey-guided methodology, supported by an eLearning and performance support program, hosted on the LMS. The PMS involves a new way of thinking and way of supporting and managing performance, that is digitally driven through the LMS.

Fast Forward

Bob is a different person.

He and his colleagues have participated in workshops on the Purpose of their Organization. Essentially, it is “to provide a sustainable supply of healthy food to a local orphanage, in order to nourish the children properly.” They find this a worthy and worthwhile cause they are able to commit to.

Bob’s mindset of his job being just “to collect and deliver the eggs to the orphanage” has changed to the important role of “contributing to the best of his ability to his team’s effort to provide a sustainable supply of nourishing food to the orphanage.” He finds the Purpose of the Organization and his role in it, which is to be inspiring and value-adding.

Bob and his colleagues participate actively in the company's "survey-guided organization development program," which is facilitated through the company's LMS. This involves participating in online surveys aimed at assessing the status of all of the factors that contribute to building and maintaining high performance in a productive, healthy work environment. The results of these surveys are made available immediately. Bob's manager shares the results, which are presented in a clear, easy-to-understand format for their team and cumulatively for the whole organization. They have a process, supported by the LMS, to understand and resolve the opportunities for improvement. As a team, they clearly understand the important contribution that their team makes to the achievement of the overall Purpose of their Organization. They also understand the role of the performance and human systems that work in synch to deliver sustainable organizational excellence. Bob's manager is a different person. He involves the team in actively assessing and resolving any factors that contribute to the performance and health of the team as well as their relationships with other teams that they work closely with.

Bob also really likes the way that the company's Performance Management System now works. Amongst other things, he likes the following features:

  • The administrative burden is handled by the LMS. On a quarterly basis, he is prompted to set up a performance discussion with his manager via the system. There are no surprises as the system regularly prompts him to update the status of his quarterly objectives and alerts his manager to these updates.
  • The system provides SMART objective templates that are the same for everyone in the company. The online tutorials provide easy-to-use, multiple delivery support. There are also contact details for SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) if needed.
  • On a quarterly basis, there is a short video, put together by leadership, on the system that gives an update on the overall performance against the "wildly important" company objectives for that quarter as well as what the new ones are for the next quarter. These videos are also used to explain the company's Balanced Scorecard and LAG/LEAD approach to setting operational plan objectives. This is discussed in team meetings, and the LMS provides additional relevant learning resources to support these discussions.
  • He sets his own quarterly objectives, in relation to the overall company ones, and agrees on these with his manager. This was a bit daunting at first, but the LMS provides plenty of support.
  • He feels that his contribution is important and valued. He has a direct line of sight as to how he plays a LEAD role in the organization achieving its objectives. He knows that the MD has direct sight of his progress against his objectives, using a simple traffic light coding methodology. Bob has experienced that this works because the MD once came to see him and ask why he was not on schedule with an important project. When Bob informed her that it was because the Finance Department had not released the required budget, the MD intervened and got the budget released immediately, so that Bob could get his project back on track.
  • Bob heard of a fantastic innovation from his colleagues in Maintenance. There is certain equipment from different suppliers that looks the same. However, the machines have different servicing and maintenance requirements, and this was causing significant problems. The issue was resolved by putting a QR code on each machine which would access, directly via smartphone, assistance to identify the machine and it's specific maintenance/servicing specifications, as well as a machine-specific problem-solving guide.
  • Bob has experienced and used the Performance Support System relevant to his role and current objectives to get immediate assistance, without leaving the workflow via his smartphone.
  • The system also prompts 360° feedback from colleagues on his performance and asks for his feedback to help colleagues improve their performance.
  • Best of all, Bob can access all of the above, whenever and wherever he wants via his smartphone or any other enabled device.

Bob is committed, involved and proactive:

  • He now informs Maintenance timeously of problems and holds them accountable, as well as holding Supplies accountable for supplying enough food and water.
  • He is proactive in making suggestions to improve ways of doing things. For example, he suggested a breeding program to increase the number of hens so that they could produce more eggs. This was approved and Bob was an active member on the project implementation team.
  • He participates regularly in team brainstorming sessions regarding enhancing the company offering of nourishing food to the orphanage. Bob suggested a vegetable garden using the chicken manure. On the issue of not having enough staff to work the vegetable garden, he proposed that the kids from the orphanage worked in the vegetable garden as part of a life-skills program.
  • Bob’s team continuously review their contribution to the Purpose of the Organization and look for new opportunities to improve their service. Bob is committed to documenting his experience of best practices and new insights so that it would be easy for someone else to take over his role if required.

What Happened?

The answer lies in the story above, and it can happen in any organization with an open mind and the right LMS capability and choice of ODS and PMS development support.