Internal ERM - Exploring The Castle Model

In this three-part series, Graham Williams of Centre-ing Services ( and Michael Cusack of On Line Customer Care ( examine trends which have a major impact on how business leaders and HR practitioners will in future need to maximize their organization’s human assets. In this second of three instalments, they explore their "CASTLE" model; last issue they explored the model in outline. In this issue they deal with the elements in more detail.

The stampede to install CRM is NOT being matched by a parallel stampede to install faster and better Employee Relationship Management (ERM)—faster, more frequent and better interactions and relationships between company and employee. Companies becoming more and more engaged with state-of-the-art e-commerce applications are, in many cases, becoming less engaged with caring for their staff. Instead of finding new ways of gaining a greater share of the employee, many organizations continue to put up with high turnover levels and high induction, training and development costs, low moral, and sub-optimum employee performance. They have not reinvented their employee relationship thinking and practices.

In order for the loyalty progression to develop over time, a system must be built that is founded on a number of key principles. These principles, or components of our ‘holistic’ system, form the acronym CASTLE.

The elements of the model are:

Here is what we mean, and what they mean to you.


A culture of leadership throughout the organization is a prerequisite for tapping everyone’s creative abilities and ensuring that the organization responds deftly and appropriately wherever it is ‘touched.’ This leadership, no longer the prerogative of the top person or a chosen few, is practiced at all levels and requires the development of a new millennium competency set:

Also required as a system cornerstone is a culture of world class external customer service delivery. In short, fed by good processes and technology within the right operating climate, empowered employees, who feel served themselves, will create enhanced moments of truth with external customers. This culture of service is developed in a number of ways, including:

V = f [ Importance (Performance and potential) + Satisfaction (Task and relationship) ]

The ‘importance’ aspect of this metric gives a reading of performance delivery, and allows for appropriate recognition and reward (say when results are allied to recorded demonstrated competence), and also allows for better resourcing of project teams, promotion and placement decisions (although ‘potential’ is not only about the hierarchical level to which an employee may climb, but also about the 'value reservoir' that the employee represents. One way of expressing this is calculating the lifetime value of the employee to the organization—in either a specialist or generalist capacity).

The ‘satisfaction’ side of the equation gives a reading of how the employee perceives the organizations’ employment policies, the boss—subordinate relationship, the challenges and growth opportunities received, the motivational climate. It can tell you when there is a need for attention, coaching, counselling.

The composite index, Importance plus Satisfaction, enables you to focus preventative or development action. For example, high importance and low satisfaction may well indicate a turnover threat. When we serve our employees we serve ourselves and serve our external customers.


Faced with any major endeavour, organizational leadership is tasked with the challenge of aligning the different parts of the ‘organizational operating system’:

Alignment is about getting the key components in a system or situation ‘lined up’ supportively in order to achieve a desired result. Consider the simple example of a golfer making an important putt. The key components in this situation are the environment, the stakeholders and the internal elements that need to come into play:

These components all impact on each other and have to be aligned for success. Wrong alignment results in a missed putt. In organizations facing challenges and change, the key components to take into account in order to achieve the desired outcome are the same:

Again, these components all impact on each other and have to be aligned for success. Misalignment results in failure. The model looks like this:

Misalignment results in lack of clarity, misunderstandings, a ‘silo mentality’ held by individual departments, friction and disagreement between departments, internal dissatisfaction and disenchanted customers.

Each element must be aligned with every other element. It is unrealistic and unfair for example, to expect employees to be able to make the jump from vision to achieved outcomes without the intermediate steps.

By dealing with each element effectively, you are able to keep alignment—for example outcomes serve the vision, behaviours are driven by capacities and by values. When management and staff understand the chain of logic in the framework, incongruencies can be quickly dealt with. If any element is ineffective or left out of the framework, then uncertainty and confusion is likely. If capacity is not present, you cannot expect people to behave effectively and take the right actions. If direction and vision are absent, people do not know where they are going. If the values component is absent, then people will be unsure of how to behave. There will also be conflict between what they feel, their cultural conditioning, and what they are expected to do. If outcomes are not measured and rewarded, then people will not have feedback on how they’re doing, nor will they be encouraged to continue acting and behaving in the right way, and so on.

The internal alignment framework is thus a ‘self-regulating’, and internally consistent, guiding mechanism.

Seamans’ Credo

The British Royal Navy’s inculcated standard seaman’s response to an order has always been "Ready, willing and able, Sir!" To elicit this response from an employee in the workplace naturally requires a different and non-military approach, but this becomes the norm when organizations do things like:

The point is that results are a function of competence and motivation. Therefore, better communication, better transfer of useful information, providing new learning opportunities, making jobs easier—all contribute to broader horizons, raised morale and superior performance—an integral part of any Employee Relationship Management model. In the third and final article in this series, the elements of technology, ‘ladders’ and exchange economics are addressed.


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