Building a Benchmark Quality HR organization

It was a corporate wide process.  Operating units had to participate by submitting an application.  The content of an application was based on an internationally recognized process for becoming a benchmark quality organization.  That is, other businesses and industries would seek out your organization and use it as a model for continuous improvement.

benchmark 1Assessment teams of managers were trained in key assessment factors and traveled to assess applying operating units in the corporation.  There was an annual schedule which plotted the application process and assessment team scheduling.  Applications were limited to 75 pages.  The assessment team was given the application in advance of their assessment visit to the operating unit.  A visit was three days in length with 5 assessment team members.

Key assessment factors: systemic approach, deployment, process, continuous improvement, and results (metrics).

Benchmark 2The process looked at seven categories by which to assess the business … one being results. And, within each category, the key assessment factors were used to evaluate the operating units performance.  The visiting assessment team gave the operating unit management team a face to face report on their findings which included successes and opportunities for improvement.

In most cases there was a direct correlation between an operating units score and its actual business performance.

Benchmark 3Operating units that scored well were likely to be on the path to being benchmark organizations in their industry.

So, bringing this back to HR, like all functions, HR had its specifics to document in the application with related metrics.  And it all had to be real, in practice, in the unit’s multiple plants and countries.  Assessment teams visited multiple locations in the units.  HR assessment specifics included:

  • Planning – work design, flexibility, innovation, response.  Development & Training.  Compensation, Recognition and Benefits.  Recruiting and Demographic Sensitivity.
  • High Performance Work Systems — connection to customers and managing and moving talent.
  • Education Training and Development — specific plans & programs.
  • Employee Well-Being and Satisfaction — focused programs on safety, health and related environmental monitoring/testing.
  • Metrics included markers for all the above; some over multiple years as indications of improvement.

Benchmark 4Some operations groused about the process being arduous, painful, (and it was) and a significant distraction from running the business. However it is hard to argue with the value of having your business assessed against a standard that can result in a plan for continuous improvement, benchmark status in an industry, and business excellence.

One of the years our unit scored first place.  We split the corporate monetary award with all our locations.  Our location rented a stern-wheeler river boat, hired a band and had a dinner-dance celebration.  It was epic !

And we had a master road-map for improvement!

***** S&E *****

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