Human Capital

How far will you go?

Far 9600035_sWellness, well-being and mindfulness are all becoming hot topics in the HR and business fraternity. It seems that there is a growing awareness of the fact that people perform better when they are healthy and happy. This is certainly progress and cause for celebration.

Yet, while it is unquestionably good news, it is also something you need to approach cautiously, for it implies the need for greater awareness of the employee as a person. Ideally you should have this already. Yet the pervasive lack of employee engagement revealed by surveys, indicates that such awareness is rare. This suggests that formalising this aspect of the relationship between manager or supervisor and employee presents a massive challenge.

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Transform Your Business Through More Effective Personal Reviews

What do you make of this chart that I came across this week?

Employee Profile Organisational

Before you spend too much time on the question, let me confess that it is not entirely a fair one, for this is a summary of that chart. The original was entitled “Employee Career Profile” and included definitions in each quadrants that made it too busy to include here. Thus to answer you need to know what those definitions were. So, going clockwise, they are:

  • Traditionally Loyal are company oriented employees who promote the company but are dissatisfied with or don’t care about the work they’re doing. This may impact on their performance. These employees may be happier and more committed in another position.
  • Truly Dedicated Ambassadors are employees who speak well of the company and are enthusiastic about their work. These employees are assets, and managers should use them, and their departments as models for others.
  • Strivers are career oriented employees who are more focused on their career development. They may be highly productive, but are also at risk of being head hunted. Managers should explore ways to increase company commitment.
  • Disconnected are employees who are not enthusiastic about their work or the company they work for. In the extreme, disconnected employees can cause dissent in the workplace. Managers should find and fix issues resulting in low commitment.

The fact that I altered the title may in any case colour your answer. My change implies both that I don’t altogether agree with it and the reason why. Apart from the implication that only ambassadors are assets, for me it epitomises the inherent flaw of nearly all HR and OD initiatives: it starts from the organisational perspective.  After all, how can you look at an employee’s career profile without addressing the employee’s personal aims and aspirations?  

Realistically assessing an employee essentially entails reviewing two personal attributes, as my chart below shows.

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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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Transforming Human Resources

You likely heard the news late last week that the Shell share price rose 7% in response to the news that the company was cutting 10,000 jobs. So, what was your reaction?

I wager it hardly made any impression on you. Yet that report encapsulates the pervasive attitude that people are simply a resource, and reinforces my case that the HR profession needs to change its approach. Let’s take a look how it could go about this.

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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.   

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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.

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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.”


The Paradox of Management and How to Remedy It

Two-sides iStock_000018792164XSmallAll week I have been thinking about the “Paradox of Work” that I described last week. It seems remarkable, as well as rather ridiculous, that – according to research – people generally run counter to their own experience and seek more leisure time when they actually enjoy their work more. Yet, amazing as that is, it is not the only paradox we encounter in the commercial or business world. There is also the “Paradox of Management.”

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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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Holiday wishes

It is that time of the year to take a break from business and the serious aspects of business and running a successful organisation and focus on things that are just as - and possibly even more - important. Accordingly, I take this opportunity to wish you and yours everything you wish yourself for the holidays and the coming New Year. May it see the fulfillment of them all.

Happy Holidays

I look forward to your company again in the New Year.


Big Data Demands ‘Big’ People

Big data 41403381_sThe term ‘big data’ is becoming increasingly prevalent. No doubt you have come across it. But what exactly is it – what does it mean?

I did a Google search to find out. The first non-advertised result I saw was just a definition. It read, “Extremely large data sets that can be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.” That seemed straightforward enough, but – after the ubiquitous Wikipedia link – the third result was a link to a Forbes article, “12 Big Data Definitions: What’s Yours?” This suggests that it is perhaps not so simple after all. Also, that it is apparently subjective.

Fortunately, the simple definition is enough for this discussion and we don’t need to get embroiled in any complexity. It highlights two things that warrant deeper thought.

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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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