Companies still think too much in terms of job descriptions with matching pay scales. This makes everything very convenient, and it’s easy to benchmark applicants’ salary expectations against information from HR consultants. Handy! But a big mistake.

Job descriptions give a false sense of security. More and more people are wanting to break out of their pigeon-holes to maximize their talents. They are fed up of always having to hear where their points of improvement are in every performance review while the things they do very well remain underexposed. Their focus is aimed at points for improvement rather than on excelling. This means we are forcing our employees to mediocrity.

Breaking free from traditional job descriptions is the solution. It’s better to look at what roles in the company need fulfilling. These roles need to be clustered in such a way that they can be combined logically, and fit in with employee skills available on the labour market. Their pay can then be structured to match the role’s importance for the company.

An example: technical experts end up in a management role because this is prioritised as a career path by the company, and not necessarily because they aspire to it themselves. Only to then realize later that the management aspect does not work. This is a shame, because it’s aprt of the job. This results in the best people becoming trapped in a role that doesn’t match their talents, which leads to frustration for the whole department. Working with roles means experts can continue to fully exploit their talents and guide their team through the technical aspects, while someone with good management skills can direct the team in terms of performance, assessment and coaching.

We are noticing that our clients have a much reduced employee rotation and satisfaction that even doubles, alongside the expected increase in turnover. Because employees no longer need to hear how and where they need to improve, so they can focus on doing what they do best. Good for them, and good for their company.

As organizations grow, their activities are divided logically across departments that each have their own head of department. The heads of department have to ensure maximum performance, and the senior management has a clear view of who they can talk to about which subjects. The people responsible within the department bring clarity and calm. And if everything’s going well, the senior management will ensure sufficient coherency between the departments.

Unfortunately this type of organization has a tendency to become derailed. In practice, the heads of department are not adequately stimulated to constantly look at the bigger picture. Their objectives are aimed too much at their own department and the result is they end up building silos – working methods that are not beneficial for other departments are not necessarily adapted. A matrix structure can help rescue this situation, but it just feels like a bureaucracy.

Competition between departments is the norm within a silo structure. Signals are no longer picked up or used sufficiently in a turf war. And if customers stay away, it’s because the sales department is not doing its job properly. And if no visitors are coming to the stall, it’s because the marketing department is not doing its job properly. And if we can’t find good people, it’s because the HR department is not doing its job properly.

In this situation, only silo busting can rescue you. Breaking up these silos with projects can be a good start. A project looking at customer satisfaction goes further than the restrictive marketing walls. Engineers can put together a multidisciplinary team for product innovation. The entire management team is made partially responsible for the company’s employer branding.

Projects such as this are not sufficient in the long term; they just stem the bleeding for a while. To really break out of the silos in a sustainable way, the mentality of the management and the employees needs to change. Employees must gain an understanding of the company’s vision, mission and concrete objectives. They need to understand where colleagues are working from ‘over the wall’ This understanding leads to insights into their own contribution, and these insights lead to solutions that are good for the entire company and not just for a specific department. Company results improve and individual motivation increases.

You might still have to massage one issue away: The differences in performance between the departments will lessen, and a previously successful department manager can become less visible. So an ointment for dented egos can come in handy.

The advent of social media has given consumers a more powerful voice. Even though we’ve already known this for some time, it’s difficult to lose old habits, as Telenet discovered with its iPad campaign. The Facebook group criticizing this campaign now has 150,000 likes, which is much greater than the number of new customers Telenet will attract with a free iPad mini.

It proves that marketing communication has, despite everything, not been adapted sufficiently to suit the better informed and more involved customer of today. Telenet must now lie in the bed it has made for itself, but it could have happened to many others too. What three mistakes were made here?

Firstly, working with temporary campaigns is becoming less and less effective. In a saturated market with subscribers for an indefinite period, it comes down to the fact that your customer will also look at what’s on offer from your competitors, who are also trying to win regular customers with even stronger promotions. This results in smaller margins and there are no winners, except for the occasional individual who is happy with a new iPad.

Secondly, it appears that Telenet has too many latent unsatisfied customers who don’t fully realize their service provider’s added value. This is remarkable, particularly because the launch of King and Kong was otherwise a masterful success. The technical specs of what Telenet is offering are certainly not inferior, but customers apparently prefer an iPad mini to the ‘Internet 120’ from Telenet (because it’s easy to imagine what you can do with an iPad mini, but not why you’d need 120 mbps).

Finally, the customer is not central to the external communication. Otherwise you wouldn’t run campaigns that give new customers a very nice gift and existing customers simply nothing. Perhaps Telenet has to consider building up a community of customers and communicating in a language that a standard customer can understand (translate ‘Internet 120’ into the number of users that can surf simultaneously without experiencing any delay). Members of the community could also be tempted with gifts, of course: find a new quad-play customer and you receive credits for buying music online, or get two new customers for a smartphone, or three new customers for a tablet, for example.