Sunday, May 25, 2014

Managing change at Motorola

When consumer electronics industry pioneer Motorola split into two separate companies (Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility) in 2011, it marked a turning point for its HR team in particular.

“We used it as an opportunity to relaunch our company with respect to our purpose and values. That’s how our HR transformation started. We translated our values into specific leadership capabilities in terms of how we develop, interview, assess and manage people,” says Shelly Carlin, senior vice president of HR for Motorola Solutions.

At the same time, Motorola Solutions wanted to change its organisational culture and become more agile, so that it could react more quickly and be innovative. As the organisation grew smaller after the separation, another concern was how it was going to create development opportunities for its workforce, says Carlin.

Eliminating performance ratings
One of the biggest steps that Motorola Solutions took towards changing its culture was taking a different approach to performance management. The company decided to eliminate its performance ratings system in 2012.

“The ratings created tension between the employee and manager. Instead of a conversation about how an employee could improve and grow, it became just about labels. Since it was so tightly linked to compensation, employees weren’t listening to that conversation. They were just waiting for the label because it would tell them what their compensation would be,” explains Carlin.

Removing the label has helped managers to move from a ‘parent-child’ evaluation relationship to a ‘coaching’ relationship with employees, says Carlin. The new system starts at the beginning of each year where the manager and employees sign off on the goals that they have set for the coming 12 months. By the end of the year, they have to acknowledge that a conversation took place about those goals. There are no formal checkpoints. “We have taken HR out of the policing of the process. Managers and employees should always be having a dialogue about their performance.”
Motorola Solutions developed training materials for managers to have better performance conversations.

The company also gave managers five simple questions to structure these conversations around:
What has the employee done well?
What could the employee have done differently or better?
What are the skills that the employee needs to grow his or her career?
How do the employee’s leadership behaviours measure up to the Motorola Solutions leadership model?
Where does the employee stand relative stand relative to his or her career with the company?
“The point of the questions is not to tell them which areas they did well or didn’t. It is to engage them in a conversation to help them discover how they did on their own. Our work in HR is to help managers get better at coaching, rather than evaluating,” says Carlin.

The new performance management system is also more efficient. It has reduced time spent on performance management by 50 to 75%, says Carlin. Previously, there was a lot of ‘noise’ in the system due to employees being dissatisfied with their performance labels and the rewards that they were receiving, she says.

Response to the new system has been positive. “I’ve received a lot of emails from employees and managers saying what a great change this was because the old system was unproductive.”

However, Carlin cautions that although that the system has worked for Motorola, it might not be right for everybody. “Don’t look at what we did but look at the questions that we asked. Ask yourself: Is this driving the culture that I want and is this contributing to business performance?”

Recruitment challenges
Motorola Solutions hired some 3,000 people globally in 2012. Yet, competition is stiff in the technology industry, especially for roles in software and systems engineering. “The challenge is to get better at finding the talent that want to work for us. Everybody is recruiting the same scarce talent,” says Carlin.

The next generation of recruiting and talent acquisition specialists need to focus on candidates who appreciate the company’s value proposition, instead of trying to be everything to everybody, Carlin says. This requires companies to use data and analytics more precisely, so they can target where the right people are. “We are also getting our message into the labour market about what is it really like to work here and how we are different,” she says.

Motorola Solutions is transitioning from being a product-centric organisation to one that is focused on services and solutions, and this too, is shaping its hiring strategy. “We are hiring not just to grow but to change skill sets as we continue to redefine who we are,” Carlin says.

The hiring landscape is also changing rapidly, says Carlin. “Getting a job today is very different from when we came into the workforce. We are realigning our spend in the recruiting space to put more of a bet on social media, because that’s where the candidates are.” Motorola Solutions is also looking at ways to ensure that its brand remains consistent across different platforms such mobile phones, tablets or websites.

“It is an exciting time for HR professional as we are seeing a seachange in the skills and capabilities to be a great HR person.”

Building an innovative work culture
“The ability to create an innovative culture is only as good as every single manager that you have in your firm,” says Carlin. It is the manager who creates an environment where people collaborate and exchange ideas freely, and where risk-taking is rewarded. “It is a rare manager who can create that kind of environment but also hold people accountable to the end result. We continue to upgrade our quality of managers so that they can create that environment,” she says.

Motorola Solutions’ executive development programmes also play a big role in cultivating this culture of innovation. The CEO Leadership Forum for example, is a development framework for the company’s top 25 executives globally. The executives recently went through a full-year custom designed learning programme where they had the opportunity to determine what was needed to make the organisation successful in the future. “One of the first things that they identified was changing our culture so that we become more collaborative,” says Carlin.

Analysis by Motorola Solutions found that almost 40% of its managers had a direct report who worked in a country outside their own. It was determined therefore that technology should be a key driver of collaboration, especially across borders. In line with this, Motorola Solutions implemented a collaboration tool called ‘Jive’, which Carlin describes as “something between Twitter and Facebook for enterprise”.

The company is also in the process of upgrading its video-conferencing and Telepresence technologies so that the need for business travel is reduced and employees can achieve better work-life balance.

Workplace diversity and inclusion
Motorola Solutions has a number of business councils that were launched to create strong business links to diversity. Catering to different interest groups, each council is formally structured with a senior-level executive sponsor and top-management co-leaders. The main four objectives for all of the business councils are marketing and brand awareness, recruitment and retention, community involvement , and professional and personal development. However, each council drives its own agenda as diversity and inclusion issues vary across different geographies.

One of the most prominent among these is the women’s business councils, says Carlin. These aim to help women in areas such as career development, building of skills, and networking. In other regions the focus areas include social responsibility and giving back to the community.

However, Carlin feels that the long term solution to creating more inclusiveness at work is to look at the value that each individual brings to the table, instead of focusing on how they look like or where they come from. The key to this is to look at specific leadership behaviours, she says. For example, what does leading change look like for a senior manager, or an individual contributor? “This levels the playing field and gives them a much fairer evaluation,” Carlin says.