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Love at Work

You might see the unpunctuated phrase love at work as a simple statement. Or as a question.  Or you might perhaps see it as an exclamation or even a headline in a salacious newspaper or magazine. I cannot predict how you will interpret it, but I hope that, whatever your reaction, it intrigued you enough to keep reading.

Loving work 15388474_sIn actual fact it is an answer!  The answer not so much to a question as to a challenge. It arose from a catch-up conversation with Traci Fenton at Worldblu. After I had explained my ‘Every Individual Matters Model to her, she responded, “I get it but others might not. You need to find a way to explain it more simply: in only a few words that will give them something they can understand, remember and share with others.” I was stunned but it certainly gave me plenty to think about.

Afterwards, as I struggled, I thought about Traci’s own proposition “Freedom at Work,” and our mutual friend, Alex Kjerulf’s, “Happiness at Work” and came up with “Love at Work.” After some initial concerns that it might be ‘too abstract’ or ‘too much’ or ‘too unbusiness-like’ and a complete failure to come up with anything else, I remembered Kahlil Gibran’s inspired and inspiring statement “Work is love made visible” and I became far more comfortable with it. Even better, it fits perfectly with my vision.

As I realised this, I also recognised that the time had come for me to publish my vision and stop seeing it as a personal purpose statement for my own eyes only, to help me shape my own path. So here goes.

I have a vision!

I see a day when all people of all nations will rise up and live their life to their fullest potential.

I see a time when people will no longer allow work to be a four-letter word, something to balance with life, but instead will value it as a vital, integral part of their life.

I see a world where work is not a bind but an opportunity for every person to celebrate the uniqueness of their being and the means to express who they are.

I see each and every person recognising their work as their contribution to humankind; making it a focal point of their lives, striving to maximise what they give and, in the process, optimising who they are.

I see that, as they recognise work as part of life and not an adjunct to it, people will regard their work as their business and do everything in their power to make it a successful business that blesses all it serves, as well as themselves.

I see people treating work as part and parcel of what they have to do, not out of compulsion, but deep desire to be the best they can possibly be; in order that, when their time is up, they can look back with pride.

And I envisage workplaces that recognise people for who they are; that sustain, nurture, encourage and enable them to be their best.

I see workplaces that cease to manage people as a resource and instead improve efficiency by encouraging, enabling and endorsing self-management. I see workplaces that acknowledge people for the assets they are; that give people back their independence and pride; and that bask in the better results this brings.

I see workplaces where command is dead and control is a collective responsibility rather than an imposition: where organisations pursue purpose rather than profits at any price.

I see workplaces operating as teams, where people do not compete, but support one another for the common good; of individual, of organisation and of the wider world.  

I see this new outlook bringing a new enthusiasm and creating a zeal that makes all a joy. I see reduced conflict and greater co-operation that makes the world a better place and that enhances its chances of survival.

I see you helping to make it happen!

(© Bay Jordan with acknowledgement to Martin Luther King)

Heart and mind 15817143_sThere you have it. Perhaps not such an unbusiness-like proposition but rather an extremely business-like one. What do you think?  

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Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can help you create an organisational culture that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


Beware WIIFM: Avoid Its Present Dangers

WIIFM 1Virtually unheard of ten years ago, WIIFM – the acronym for What’s In It For Me – has become a surprisingly popular term in business. Originally coined to focus marketing efforts on customer needs, it has become a key concept in change management and HR. Here, however, it is a double-edged sword and needs to be invoked with care.

On the positive side, WIIFM recognises the individual and looks to address personal needs and expectations. A shift away from traditional command and control thinking, with its philosophy that the employee is simply a resource required to do what they are told, this is clearly progress.  

Unfortunately, it also has three inherent dangers that are not widely recognised.

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The Strange Dichotomy of Organisations and How to Bridge It

Dichotomy 12350504There is a strange dichotomy in organisations. Perhaps rooted in the Paradox of Management I described previously, it goes beyond that and lies in the fact that, although organisations depend on people to fulfill their purpose, generally they fail to take any account whatsoever of the intrinsic drivers of human behaviour.

An extreme case of this was a conversation with an executive who argued that putting people first was a complete waste of time. As he put it, “I employ people to do a job and I expect them to do it.  If they don’t appreciate how fortunate they are to have a job or they don’t want to do it as prescribed, there are plenty of other people who will!”

Wow! It seems hard to believe that such attitudes still exist. Yet, is it so surprising? Perhaps, despite claims about, and efforts to circumvent and “win”, the “War for Talent”, they reflect a fundamental, ingrained management belief.  Certainly there is plenty of evidence suggesting that, even if not explicitly expressed, they are pretty pervasive, and stem from a belief in the importance of jobs. But employment is about more than just jobs: it is about people.

Improving performance is seldom, if ever, as simple as substituting the person.  And why should it be? Even the exchange of machines can be complicated and their operation radically different. In every case you have to cater for the “needs” of the individual machine.  Those, however, are primarily physical/mechanical. But for people those needs are intrinsically physiological and psychological. Yet how often do you look at the physiological and psychological needs of your people?     

In his book “Leaders Eat Last”, Simon Sinek identifies the biological drivers of behaviour. Although these have their origins in ensuring humankind’s survival as a species, they are just as significant today. They therefore play as important a part in the modern workplace as they did in our hunter/gatherer history. In fact they determine our health and sense of wellbeing. Thus, failure to recognise them and shape them, inevitably impacts performance.

Similarly, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identifies the psychological drivers in his book “Flow”. He describes “flow” as a state when we become so totally absorbed in what we are doing that we become oblivious to the demands of everyday life and says that this is a state of happiness resulting from our need to optimise experience. Key here is the fact that we are all intrinsically goal driven and therefore motivated to continue developing and reaching for new goals. When we are not doing this, we become demotivated, disinterested and disengaged. Sinek explains this is due to the body’s production of dopamine, which makes us feel good when we reach our goals, and serotonin, which is produced by the sense of pride we get when we feel that others like and respect us. 

Daniel Pink identifies the essential ingredients of employee engagement as autonomy, mastery and purpose. The first two are again readily understandable when you understand that they derive from the production of dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, he links purpose closely with a sense of belonging, which Sinek says stems from the body’s production of “chemical love”, oxytocin, which it creates when we are in the company of people we like, trust and respect, or when we do something nice for someone else or they do something nice for us.

Thus, although coming from three totally different perspectives, all three of these writers reinforce one another’s conclusions. This makes their findings more credible, and more significant for you as a business leader. To significantly transform performance and results you have to create an environment that makes the best of your people or – more accurately – that allows them to make the best of themselves.  For this you need to consider how you are going to create a system or systems that addresses the physical and psychological needs of your people. Both collectively and individually, because every individual matters.   

_____________________________________________________________________________  

Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model can help you create an organisational culture that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”


Why you, unwittingly, may be just going through the motions

Necessity 50123277_s

Have we got it wrong?  

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” That is the old adage that we all grew up with. (The picture shows just how old!) And like me you have probably never challenged it. But is it valid? Recently I have been compelled to question this.

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Meeting Management’s Greatest Challenges

13884598-concerned-businessmanApparently there are seven major challenges currently occupying the minds of business leaders and causing them concern. At least, that is what the conference speaker told us, feeding back the results of Metlife’s global research study.

Interestingly, there was no specific mention of the fear of disruptive ideas and the impact they might have on their business that, according to different research I reported last week, was the greatest fear of 64% of CEO’s! Even so, the points raised still warrant serious consideration.    

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How You Overcome That Great Fear

PASS iStock_000001252419Medium“Fear is the expectation of evil.” I came across and was struck by that definition recently. It came strongly to mind this week when I read a research report about CEOs’ greatest fears. Apparently, for a whopping 64%, the single biggest fear is of disruptive ideas and the impact they might have on their business.   

Thus, according to that definition of fear, business leaders see new ideas as evil. You have to find that incredibly ironic if, like me, you believe:

  • Business exists for the purpose of meeting needs;
  • The more the business meets those needs the better the business will do;
  • Business leaders are responsible for shaping the way the organisation meets those needs.

With that attitude, you might even say that CEOs could be the biggest barriers to change in their organisations.  

If nothing else, that possibility should give you pause to think. As defence you may claim that there is a very big difference between “new ideas” and “disruptive ideas.” Maybe so, but where do you draw the line? How do you distinguish one from the other? More importantly, how do you know that you are not rejecting good ideas that could achieve wonders for your business?

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Legally right or morally right?

Cruise ship 41666596_sI don’t know why. It is not a column I normally read. But somehow my eye was drawn to the report of a man who booked a cruise 18 months ahead, paying a significant (+/-20%, four figure) deposit. Unfortunately he suddenly died a few weeks later. So his daughter asked for this money to be refunded. Her request was refused. The managing director of the cruise company, no less, wrote to her saying, “With our guest demographic, we are all too regularly presented with requests for refund payments due to illness or a sad loss, all of which should be claimed by travel insurance.”

I struggled with this. The whole scenario suggested that the company puts revenue before customer experience. With the MD’s own words indicating that the “guest demographic” makes this a regular occurrence, you have to ask how much of the company’s profits result from this dubious practice of deriving revenue without providing any correlative service. Such justification seems unethical or morally bankrupt. It seems to illustrate a fine line between legal and ‘legitimate’: the decision may have been legitimate but was it is legal? I needed to think more.  

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How is Your Brand?

How good is your brand? How secure is it? Who are your best brand ambassadors? Brand 123RF_41682176_s

Those are some of the questions I found myself asking this week after coming across an article in Chief Executive Magazine entitled, "How to turn your employees into your best brand ambassadors." My instinctive response was that this should not be new to any CEO worth his salt. After all, surely you need employees who believe in your brand, in order to deliver a customer experience that turns customers into raving fans. But, perhaps it is a subject that requires a refresher.

If my instinct is right, and making your people brand ambassadors isn’t already core to everything you do, you have a problem. If your people are not your best brand ambassadors,  your brand will definitely not be all it should be. Certainly this research from my friend Alexander Kjerulf suggests that may be the case. So, now ask yourself just how good your brand is. This also makes it unlikely to be as secure as you might like to think.

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How the Learning Cycle Fits into Organisational Development

Apparently the achievement of learning induces a chemical reaction within the body that makes the learner feel happy and good about themselves. This past week-end I experienced this for myself. In fact, I got such a ‘buzz’ that I cannot resist sharing what I learned. I hope you experience a similar ‘high’!

It all began with an introduction into Max Boisot’s theories about the learning. Like most people, I was already aware of the distinction between data and information and so the differentiation between information and knowledge was only a small step. Likewise to understand that knowledge has no value until it is put into use. However, the discussion was around why knowledge isn’t always put to use and that is what was so enlightening. The following diagram is my interpretation and helps explain better.

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Challenge: People Skills or People Management Skills

Potential 11049229_sAre people skills and people management skills the same thing? The question arises from a recent DPG blog that identifies “people skills” as the number one requirement for HR professionals to be outstanding, and explains this by saying. “HR spends so much time dealing with people and people issues, so good people management skills are essential.” This suggests they are, but it is definitely a premise worth challenging. In fact there are several things that bear challenging in all this.

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