The successor to the successful “CiEP, The new standard for working" gives centre stage to the conditions for effective leadership and the underlying patterns of behavior and communications of managers. "Giving long-term effective leadership to office organizations" stirs managers and employees in office organizations into action. The synopsis of the latest management book by Gery Groen with a foreword by Prof. Henk Volberda of the Erasmus University can be read below.

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In today’s world of high pressure of work, increasing amounts of information, complexity, demands that are placed by the work on people, stress and pressure of work, we find that people working in office organizations need clear basic principles, structures and work agreements to be able to manage pressure of work and to keep enjoying their work whilst achieving the desired results, both at the personal level, at department level and at organizational level.


Unique management- and quality system

To fulfill this need Gery Groen of CiEP Personal Quality and Results, based in Leiden, The Netherlands, has developed a vision, methodology and a quality standard for systematic, conscious and effective working with personal work systems in a professional office environment. As a result of this, the extent to which people know and can apply the ground rules and values that are associated with conscious and effective working, and the extent to which there is a link between personal interests and those of the organization becomes visible and measurable. This CiEP Management System has been developed to secure and improve the use of personal work systems and the continuous realization of transparency, accessibility, control and balance across the entire organization, in order to permanently support and facilitate the achievement of the desired personal and organizational results and to make bottlenecks and points for development visible.

Office organizations are still lagging behind

A management system specifically for office organizations is certainly not an unwarranted luxury. Since the Second World War in particular, the number of organizations, both governmental and in the business services sector, has grown immensely. However, in contrast to manufacturing companies where the emphasis has come to lie on logistics, quality and management systems, the average office organization still has to make a whole step change when it comes to effective and efficient management. In addition, we have not learned at school how to manage our office work and ourselves efficiently. We have not learned how to use a personal management system. These needs have only become greater with the increasing pressure that computerization of work has brought and brings and the accompanying pressure place on these organizations by society and their clientele. The consequences of this are visible, because especially in office environments managers and staff are out of balance. Overtime has been the norm in many organizations. There is barely time for matters like sport, hobbies or ‘prime time with one’s partner’, and added to that, the work tempo is increasing annually by 1.5%. Many people are thus suffering from permanent heavy pressure of work. To illustrate the consequences, here are few telling figures:

  • 1 in 10 employees ends up in a burnout situation
  • 40% of sick leave is caused by excessive pressure of work
  • 300,000 people in the Netherlands are incapacitated to work through work-related illness
  • The reintegration costs amount to 2 years’ annual salary per individual

No grip on the work

Office environments are the specific work domain of Gery Groen and her coaches. CiEP Personal Quality and Results therefore continuously conducts research in that field. The most important bottleneck for office staff is the permanent feeling that one has no grip on the work. Research by CiEP conducted among thousands of office workers has shown that 50% indicated that they have too little time for themselves to get their work done. Some 35% indicated that deadlines are not always achieved, whilst a similar percentage reported that they were not always able to keep to agreements. Slightly more than 30% stated that there was often a lack of clarity in agreements whilst 50% of all interviewees indicated often doing something different than what he/she had planned. Being behind with work was reported by 47% of interviewees and 48% admitted taking work home mentally and emotionally.

These figures are disturbing, but yet relatively little is being done to change them. It seems that we are still doing too well and collectively as if we are still too little bothered by them. The level of acceptance and habituation is high; there is still no drive at national level, within branches of business or at the organizational level to create work situations that are different. Gery Groen’s experience within organizations is, regrettably, that managers, despite the high risk of poorer provision of services, higher costs, high level of absences through illness and an alarming number of burnout cases, have learned to live with this issue. The illusions of the day and the anxiety of failure reign among both the management and the personnel.

The figures above reveal the inability of the management of office organizations to properly and adequately shape the work processes and the conditions for effective self-management in an office environment. Managers and supervisors are fairly frequently at a loss when it comes to making the causes of chokepoints in their organization recognizable. But in fairness, it must be said that there are few or no integrated management models or systems that actively enable managers in complex office work situations to built bridges between the staff and the organizations; between work, home and one’s self; and between culture, structure and results. Management on the basis of the CiEP method and the quality standard that is based on it, the CMS Standard, fills that gap.

CiEP as personal management instrument

Gery Groen: My many years of experience as a "coach-on-the-job" in companies and organizations has led me to develop the CiEP method for effective organizational management and self-management in office organizations. And that is also a necessity. People have developed work routines without conscious choices being the basis thereof. Often these routines only work disruptively, but there is no one who points out that it could be different. For one individual a particular way of working is perhaps good and piling papers up on a desk is not a big issue… But for people working as a team it is actually very time-consuming when everyone has his or her own method of working. The endless search through the stack of papers on a colleague’s desk when they are off sick is a recognizable image for many people. Almost no one has a real overview.
CiEP, which stands for “what works in working” allows people in combination with their desk to develop into a more effective member of staff. Everyone can work, but there are only a few people who have actually learned how to do this. In the last 15 years we have trained and coached so many people at their own desk, helping them to learn and apply the CiEP principles we developed that a standard has arisen for what is necessary to create a working environment that works. CiEP makes it possible for people to develop their own personal management system including the appropriate associated behavior and communication, with which they can focus their work, take control of the work they do and maintain that control in order to achieve measurable, visible and perceptible results of which they can be proud. Provided it is consistently applied, working with CiEP can give people time savings of between 10 and 20%. The CiEP method of working has been proven to work over many years at the individual level among thousands of people in hundreds of organizations. These experiences have led me to wishing to make the principles of CiEP available from the perspective of the managers and supervisors and to develop managerial criteria for this too.

CiEP as management instrument

The CiEP criteria that apply at the personal level are also applicable at the organizational level. CiEP as a management instrument enables managers of office organizations to optimize, sustainably and as a whole, the effectiveness of their own management, their staff who are working on the basis of the CiEP principles and the work process of their department or departments. By utilizing CiEP at management level a foundation is laid down, an objective indicator is set that makes work on hand controllable allowing deviations to be spotted earlier, that increases the quality awareness and self-reflection and allows crises to be avoided. Managers are then involved with the roots, the essence of their company. Managers can also, from that basis, implement a consciously chosen culture and standard whereby anchoring the fundamentals thereof in a management system based on the CiEP principles offered the structure for clarity, continuity and constant control and coaching. The principles of CiEP offer the management a guideline for assuring and improving the use of personal work systems across the entire organization. From this it is possible to decide to develop a total management system in which not only is there coherence in the organization between the personal work systems, but there is also congruency and constancy in behavior and communications in relation to the organization’s vision, structure and agreements and the continuous realization of transparency, accessibility, control and balance.

What is the advantage of a CiEP management system?

The implementation of CiEP as a management system on the basis of the CMS Standard is oriented towards:

  • assuring, facilitating and improving the personal work systems;
  • making the link visible between personal work systems and the organization as a whole and the effective association of culture and structure with results;
  • assuring and promoting the workability within the entire organization;
  • realizing systematic and results-oriented working;
  • making transparency, accessibility and transferability of work possible;
  • bringing about optimal collaboration between departments and the continuously resolution of bottlenecks;
  • ensuring that agreements and commitments are complied with at all levels within the organization;
  • improving internal and external client satisfaction;
  • strengthening the image of the organization.

Working on the basis of CiEP and the CMS Standard delivers measurable, visible and perceptible results to managers and employees:
Measurable: internal and external client satisfaction is congruent, work is done and managed in a results-oriented manner, productivity increases, the number of errors and complaints reduces, pressure of work falls, absences reduce, personnel turnover decreases.
Visible: there is integrity in (personal) work systems, there is transparency, throughput, transferability and accessibility of information, the work on hand is visible , people have control and have pleasure in their work, and go home full of energy, feeling satisfied and with a clean desk.
Perceptible: personal goals are set and achieved on the basis of a healthy work-home-self balance, enjoyment and satisfaction with working is experienced, pressure of work can be dealt with satisfactorily. 

Manager should also participate

In her book Gery Groen also points out as an exceptionally relevant aspect that managers should also participate fully in the CiEP management system within an organization where the CiEP principles are being applied consistently. Managers may have the inclination at some point to withdraw from the work agreements that have been made and to state that the system is only good for the employees below them, but that is actually impossible when the CMS standard has been properly implemented. To put it more strongly: the success of the implementation and perseverance with the new work method depends to a great extent on the personal involvement of the manager. Managers can thus not simply stand on the sidelines and watch.

Certification is also possible

When companies and organizations have chosen to develop a CiEP management system on the basis of the CMS Standard they can also be certified on the basis of the CMS Standard in order to vigorously assure the relationship between people, quality and results. Contrary to existing quality standards such as, for example, the ISO-9000, the CMS Standard places the focus on how people function in relation to what the intentions and agreements are. Two cases are discussed in the book.

Lots of material drawn from practice

Gery Groen and her colleagues have coached tens of thousands of employees and managers in learning to work the CiEP way in hundreds of companies and government institutions in the Netherlands and Belgium. The list of prominent clients is long. In the book "Giving long-term effective leadership to office organizations" you can read the experiences of coaches and clients alike. There are a large number of cases from which readers can draw knowledge, insight and inspiration. For example the cases include health insurer CZ and the Rotterdam-based Carbon Black, but also the CMS-certified accountants organization Kwestro Faas Slobbe and the Belgian Xerius Family Fund.

Onto the future

Looking at the future in her book, Gery Groen concludes that there will be an ever-increasing demand on the personal leadership qualities of managers, employees and professionals. They will only be able to survive in the new office environment if they are prepared to examine, evaluate and work on themselves, both as a person and as a worker. To allow this personal mastery at working to operate and be demonstrated optimally in an organizational context, it is necessary for companies to establish the systematic conditions for this. She thus anticipates that the demand for management instruments such as CiEP and the CMS Standard will only increase in the coming years. With increasing shortages in the labor market, the importance of effective leadership in order to create a working environment in which people can work in harmony and partnership to realize inspiring quality and results will become ever greater. After all, quality attracts quality.
Vision, strategic insights and business principles are, in the near future, more necessary than ever before in order to keep to a steady course as an organization in an environment that is in turmoil. The fact that directors and governors are being required to be more and more accountable, partly on the basis of legislation, management and ethical codes and societal pressure, means that they have to increase the effectivity of the (self) management in the organizations for which they are responsible, in order to be able to offer substantiated accountability for their organizations. In the future annual accounts and accountants’ declarations will report the fact that an organization is being run on the basis of a specific quality system. In the long term the CiEP method of working will be taught at business schools and universities.

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