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 / Second Quarter 1997 / Issue 7(originally published by Booz & Company)


The Triumph of People Power and the New Economy

6) Is there appropriate sensitivity to your personal circumstances, gender and/or cultural heritage so that such issues do not detract from your success?

For any question to which the answer is "no," there is an established process for bringing the issue to the attention of the supervisor's supervisor. Unresolved issues bubble up all the way to the C.E.O.

Open communication forms the foundation for the day-to-day relationship.

In this new approach, the burden is fully on the company to clearly communicate the basis of the employment relationship to all its employees and to keep them abreast of issues facing the company and the implications for them as individuals. For companies that have typically been reluctant to share information until necessary or until the desired course of action becomes absolutely clear, this may constitute the most formidable challenge to breathing life into the New People Partnership. It requires new confidence, trust and flexibility.

3Com has committed itself to an open communication process in which managers tell employees what is going on and what it means for them. Most departments hold weekly meetings to discuss the state of the business and the implications for employees. At Intel, every new employee participates in seven seminars during the first year of employment that cover the company's values, culture and business, and spell out the employee behaviors that go along with living the Intel values. Every quarter, Mr. Grove, the C.E.O., provides a two-hour overview on the state of the business.

Employees manage their own careers.

For employability to work effectively, employees must actively seek and create their own career opportunities. They need to communicate openly about personal and professional needs and expectations. And they must be afforded unrestricted access to alternative job opportunities in the company.

What does this mean for the company? For one thing, it must support employees in identifying and evaluating job opportunities inside and outside the company, helping them to build a customized career path. In this environment, there is no stigma attached to looking for a new job, there is limited ownership of people except in cases of critical skills and there is a recognition that employability and managing careers are in the best interest of both the corporation and the individual. This is about a mutual investment that creates real barriers to separation, and it is about genuine trust in each other.

Many companies have formalized their job posting processes. They are also setting up career development centers, which help workers identify their own talents, learn new skills and search for opportunities, wherever they may be.

Raychem provides additional insight into career management under the New People Partnership. At Raychem, all jobs are posted. Any employee can accept a new assignment after giving just two weeks' notice to his or her current manager. As a result, Raychem is seeing appreciably more movement of people laterally and across functions. For example, an organization development person settled into his new position after stints as a controller and logistics manager.

Raychem has also placed significant emphasis on individual development planning. Everyone in the organization, including all operators in the plants, has a written development plan. Everyone is on "community feedback," a simplified version of a 360-degree review in which three to five people are selected by the employee and his or her manager to provide feedback. Each employee has a quarterly update to determine how well he or she is doing in terms of this development plan. One of the first and most visible steps Raychem took in promoting the new employment relationship and the concept of employability was to provide on-site career services.

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