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HR Quick wins for every Board: Everything you need to know

Editorial Team
24/09/2019 11:40 AM

Boards at this moment are seized with crafting survival strategies for their
businesses. This is not an easy task considering how difficult it is for the
Board to share the same vision. When people join Boards they join for various
reasons. Others do it for prestige, political reasons, while others do so for
good reasons; to help the business achieve its objectives.

the Board of Directors is supposed to be furnished with information on how the
business is operating in practice that is not normally the case. In some
instances management decide what information to share and not to share. Most
Board members only get to know about what is happening in the business when
scandals are unearthed.  It is not a bad
idea to always have a forensic audit when a new Board takes over or when half
of the Board members are new.  There is
serious filtering of information that goes to the Board by management in poorly
run organisations that the Board members need to be curious and demand
information on every facet of the business.

I list some of the non – regrettable actions the Board can take to save the

Clean up the payroll

are so many hidden costs related to remuneration that are often abused. The use
of motor vehicles, fuel allocations, per diums, school fees holiday etc. In the
current circumstances some of the remuneration items do not make sense at all.
Do a full remuneration (covering salaries and all benefits) audit and do away
with things that are not supporting your business in the present circumstances.   For managerial employees upwards put them on
total cost and let them decide what they want to do with their earnings. You
cannot stick to a policies that are bleeding the business of money simply
because that is the way you have always done it in the past. Every human
resources policies must be checked for alignment with where the business is

unnecessary roles and reporting relationships
- During
good times many organisations create roles that after careful analysis may not
be necessary. Below I outline roles that you may need to revaluate in the
context of where your business is going. Chief
Operating Officer
- This role is necessary when the business is growing and
the current CEO cannot handle the large entity that is growing profitable.
However in the majority cases you may find this role is created when the
current CEO is not performing to the standard required by the Board. Instead of
being blunt and tell the CEO that they are not up to the right standard Boars
tend to hide behind this role. If this role is not clearly defined you may find
that there is conflict between the CEO and the Chief Operating Officer.   If the role of Chief Operating Officer is
created as a succession strategy for the CEO role, which is noble, it should
not last for more than three years.  In
some instances this role has a one on one reporting structure with CEO, making
one of the two positions redundant from structural point of view. The trend
globally has been that few organisations are holding on to this role and are
deliberately eliminating this role.

– Talking to
those that have such structures the main reason for such titles is that they
want to promote career growth. However such thinking is a luxury that should be
reserved for good times. You must banish this notion that career growth only
comes through titles. Sustainable career growth comes from broadening the job
horizontally and vertically. Assistant –
The Question is assisting who? Why not give them a correct title and a full
job description that goes with a full job. Some come up with such titles in
order to avoid rewarding people for a job that they are doing that is at a
higher level. Special Projects –
This s “useless title” for politically charged organisations. To balance the
politics such titles are created to accommodate individuals who have fallen out
of favour with the political establishment at that time.  Clever people should know that when they are
elevated to that title, they have been put on notice.

the number of acting positions

A trend that we have
noticed in our human resources practices survey is that there are so many
people in acting positions for too long especially in state enterprises. This a
sign of a weak Board that cannot take decisive action on matters that seriously
affect the performance of the organisation. The Board should work with a
maximum 3 months acting period. At any given point you should never have more
than three executives in an acting capacity. It affects decision making and
creates serious anticipatory behaviour on the part of those acting.

at the Executive Team

It’s not easy to
entrust your turnaround with the same people who have brought the organisation
to where it is; near collapse. You may need to bring in a new team of
executives and let those who are responsible for the decline in performance of
the business leave amicably.  I have not
heard of successful turnarounds that are led by the same people who engineered the
failure in the first place. In pre-emptive restructuring where you are changing
course but the business is still very sound and you believe the current team
can do the job, it’s important to stay with the same team.

When you decide to
restructure do it quickly to avoid creating unnecessary anxiety for your
stakeholders.  Restructuring is the norm
now. If you are not restructuring now it means your business is doing well or
you will not survive as a business. Implementing a restructuring program too
late is a sign of a very weak Board.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com  or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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