HR’s drive for common goals held back by top managers

HR practitioners are fighting a tendency for senior managers to enforce traditional boundaries in companies at the expense of a common culture.

A survey of 100 HR and communications directors in big companies found a range of HR practices – from common appraisal systems to career moves across the company – are used to achieve internal cohesion.

But the report added, "Despite the fact that most of these companies seem to be making the right moves in their HR policies and practices, many of those interviewed still felt that senior managers fought the traditional boundary battles and were poor at promoting the "corporate good" in their behaviour.

The survey, One Company: Why Common Culture Builds Business Performance, found that HR policies to promote co-operation and understanding within organisations are now common practice in large companies. Almost all (95 per cent) use career moves across the company, with 63 per cent using bonuses based on company-wide performance.

Common appraisal systems are in place at 75 per cent of organisations while 79 per cent use common behaviour standards.

The report urges HR professionals to tackle the problem by being more proactive in communicating common goals and reporting progress. It added that only 61 per cent of companies are testing the impact of company-wide communications on corporate culture.

"More companies should be actively checking to see how far their employees are committed to their goals."

The study, carried out by consultancy Dragon, welcomes the increasing use of intranet sites, but it warns against over-reliance. "While it is a hugely valuable tool in improving access to information, it cannot by itself create the culture than promotes collaboration, or the level of involvement that creates knowledge-sharing."

Mike Nicholson, Naafi HR director, said integration of HR plans into the overall business plan is the key to creating a company-wide culture.

"If this is not done there will be a lot of scope for friction with managers," he said.


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By Helen Rowe

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