>Micromanagers and Enterprise Architecture

>Human capital is such a critical aspect of our enterprises, yet in typical enterprise architectures (traditionally focused on IT and if we’re lucky maybe some business), it’s not seriously addressed.

Here’s an example of a major human capital issue and one that if dealt with sensitively and humanly could make a big difference in our organizations and toward productivity and innovation.

This issue that I am referring to is micromanagement.

How many people like to be micromanaged?

Of course, that’s a rhetorical question! Yet, micromanagement is a pervasive problem in our organizations. Twice this past month alone, articles have appeared in mainstream publications on this issue.

Here’s the first one. The October 20, 2008 issue of Federal Computer Week had an article entitled, “Are you a Micromanager?”

This piece recounted an FCW Insider Blog the prior month that asked “How could your agency or manager make you happier and more successful on your job?” To which, the first comments from a DoD employee was the following:

“We have no trust, therefore, we have micromanagement. Of course, there can be no empowerment for employees in this culture. Innovation and creativity are the enemies of senior management.”

Another read wrote:

“Because of the micromanagement, we spend up to 50 percent of our time proving that we are accountable by writing justifications and filling in data sheets showing that we are working!”

Here’s one more to think about:

“I resent being micromanaged as if I am a child, not a professional.”

Then on November 3, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported “Micromanager Miss Bull’s-Eye.”

“Leadership experts say micromanagers…share an unwillingness to trust subordinates.”

Here’s what the authorities recommend:

“Clearly articulate expectations

Focus on hiring and placement of subordinates

Give employees decision-making power [as appropriate, of course]

Encourage questions and suggestions

Offer constructive feedback

Don’t grab the reins at the first sign of trouble”

The best managers provide meaningful and challenging work to their employees; facilitate the work, but do not actually do it for them; explain to employees what to do, but not how to do it; and let employees make mistakes and learn and grow from them.

To do this, managers needs to learn to have faith in people, listen to their employees, understand that employees are not only working on the project, but on their careers as well, make people feel safe to make honest mistakes, and of course, recognize and reward performance and promote diversity.

Mike Lisagor, a management consultant, put it well when he said: “Every manager can make a difference and the more enlightened the manager is, the more enlightened the organization will be.”

I agree with Mike. We need to change how we manage our human capital. As managers, and as organizations, we can and must do better. And I would suggest that we include this as part of our enterprise architecture efforts. The sooner, the better!

>“Hodo-Hodo” and Enterprise Architecture

>Human capital is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of enterprise architecture.

With all the business process acumen and sleek IT, we can get nothing truly accomplished without the innovation, dedication, finesse, and talent of people!

Unfortunately, people are often poorly understood and mishandled in the workplace and the results can be disastrous for our enterprises and nations.

Japan is a good example of a country where these effects are pronounced.

The Wall Street Journal, 1-2 November 2008 reports on “Slacker Nation? Young Japanese Shun Promotions.”

Generally, one would think that people want to advance themselves professionally and be productive human beings in general. This is sort of a cornerstone of capitalism.

Yet, in Japan now-a-days, “in a country once proud of its success-driven ‘salarymen,’ managers are grappling with a new phenomenon: Many young workers are shunning choice promotions—even forgoing raises—in favor of humdrum jobs with minimal responsibilities.”

Here’s an example:

“the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a destination for the city’s elite, says only 14% of eligible employees took higher level exams for management positions in 2007—down from 40% three decades ago.”

So enterprises are not understanding generation Y and what they are looking for in the workplace.

Things have gotten so bad that a labor relations lawyer advises companies not to “shock” workers with promotions, but rather to “first see if they’re ready.”

“Employment experts have begun to call these workers hodo-hodo zoku, or the ‘so-so folks.’ They say these workers, mostly in their 20s and early 30s are sapping Japan’s international competitiveness.”

One labor consultant says “They’ll ruin Japan with their lax work ethic.”

Yet although gen Yers are at the center of this trend, apparently this goes beyond being just a generational issue:

“A study this year…found just 3% of Japanese workers says they’re putting their full effort into their jobs.”

So what are organizations missing in understanding and in handling their human capital?

First, organizations need to listen to what people’s needs are and work to satisfy them.

Instead of seeking legal counsel to see “whether they can fire employees who refuse promotions,” they need to make the work and conditions of employment palatable to today’s workforce.

For example, one “24-year old agent at a staffing company recently got promoted to help manage a small group of employees. The new job means a higher salary and a better title. But he isn’t happy about it. Now he often works past 10 p.m. leaving him less time with his girlfriend.”

Aha!

People are human and need work-life balance. A 24 year old with a relationship doesn’t want to work until 10:00 every night. That’s really hard to understand isn’t it? (sarcasm here)

Here’s another reason:

Japan has suffered “economic woes during the long slump in the 1990s and early 2000s…young workers saw older generations throw themselves into their work, only to face job and pay cuts as companies restructured. Now young people are cautious about giving too much of themselves—even if it mean less money or prestige.”

A 2nd Aha—not really:

If people are not rewarded for their hard work and dedication they are not motivated to perform. Companies that used to provide lifetime employment and/or substantial salary raises for managerial positions, no longer are providing these.

To me, the big Aha’s here are not the cause-effect reactions of workers to organizations that do not reward their efforts, promote work-life balance, or demonstrate commitment to match the dedication of their people, but rather the surprise is that enterprises are continue to overlook their most valuable asset in their enterprise architecture—which is of course, their people!

Enterprise architects need to work with their Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs)/HR divisions to better understand and address the needs of the workforce so that the organization can recruit, hire and retain a stable and talented workforce. This will support the business now and into the future.

The enterprise architects’ unique role in this area is to

–capture information (profiles/models/inventories regarding human capital) and trends—point out gaps or other issues between current and future capabilities

–align investment decisions to business requirements—in this case, investments in human capital

If we don’t address the human capital perspective of the architecture, no business or technology plans can succeed.

>Take Care of Your Employees and Enterprise Architecture

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User-centric EA is focused on the users, but also on the employees in the organization.

In Fortune Magazine, 3 September 2007, Kip Tendell the CEO of the super successful Container Store states “Put Employees Before Customers: If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of the customers—and that will take care of the shareholders. To myopically focus on the shareholders is wrong. So we invest heavily in our employees.”

Applying this to the government is somewhat different than the private sector for a few reasons:

  • Citizens versus customers: We don’t have customers in the traditional sense of people purchasing goods or services, but we do have our citizens whom we serve by delivering services that they pay for through taxes.
  • Stakeholders versus shareholders: We don’t have shareholders to be concerned about, but we do have plenty of stakeholders, including lots of oversight from the Department (to which the agency reports), the Inspector General, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the General Accounting Office (GAO), The Hill, the media, and so on.
  • Essential services: The nature of the services being provided are of a different caliber than most in the private sector (this is not a put down to the private sector—in fact, I came to the government from the financial services industry). The services that the government provides such as law enforcement, defense readiness, consumer safety, health management, social services, and so on are absolutely critical to the functioning of an orderly society.

Based on these differences between public and private sectors, I do not think that government can afford to put employees before citizens (given the critical nature of the services provided to all of us). However, I do believe that treating employees well is a prerequisite to them providing good service and to meeting performance objectives and achieving mission execution.

Let’s face it, people respond better to honey than to vinegar. Institute market based pay, a culture of merit, pay for performance, and in general treat employees fairly and with respect, and they will deliver for the citizens of this country.

Every EA plan should include goals, objectives, and strategies that promote the employee, since they are the enterprise’s most critical asset in achieving the mission.