It has been an extraordinary week. It is as though the whole world has aligned with my endeavours. New light has radiantly illuminated my inner convictions while the echoes of my expression have reverberated through everything I have heard. This powerful cornucopia of sight and sound has fired the furnace that has recharged my purpose, reinvigorated my hopes and re-energised my actions. Let me share the details in the hope that you will experience the same thing.
It didn’t look special or anything out of the ordinary. Just another piece of internal mail. But it turned out to be very different.
You would think most people recognise the difference between management and leadership. After all they are two entirely separate things. Yet I find myself questioning whether they do. Even worse, I wonder if it is our organisational leaders themselves who are most guilty of confusing the two.
This line of thinking was precipitated by reading the results of the Borderless "2016 Survey on Leadership Development." As I did I found myself substituting “leadership” for “liberty” in Madame Roland’s lament for liberty en-route to the guillotine; “Oh Liberty! What crimes are committed in your name?” And the link is perhaps not as far-fetched as it may seem.
“Work is love made visible.” What do those words of Kahlil Gibran’s say to you? I see them both as a constant source of inspiration - and a massive challenge!
They are an inspiration because, as Eric Gill so clearly put it, “That state is a state of slavery in which a man does what he likes to do in his spare time and in his working time that which is required of him.” When we don’t love what we are doing work is drudgery, and, because of the innate human desire to develop and grow and be useful, thus a form of slavery. Yet this is only a limited, single-faceted perspective. It addresses the personal side or what you might call our ‘love for work.’
Now look in the mirror and ask yourself “How much love do I have for my work?” If you are one of the majority of disengaged people the likelihood is that your answer is, “Not much!” And therein lies the challenge – turning that around.
That, however, is only the beginning. What about the workplace? You cannot love your work if you don’t love the environment and/or the people you are working with. And you cannot love them if you don’t feel loved yourself. That is what ‘love at work’ implies in its fullest sense and is where the real challenge comes in.
So let me give you an insight as to how you could meet, and beat, that challenge. The following diagram presents a practical recipe for creating an environment which will build, secure and sustain love at work.
It looks at things from both the individual and organisational perspective. Both need to have a sense of purpose in order to give meaning to their actions. When the purpose of both individual and organisation align you get greater engagement resulting in blue-chip people or, borrowing the term from the ratings industry, what I call a “Triple A Employee.” This creates a mutual satisfaction that enhances the individual’s sense of self-worth and their value to the organisation. In turn this inspires them to pursue their personal growth and development but as this is within the organisational context it maintains and sustains their personal fit within the organisation, enabling the organisation to better meet its changing environment whilst simultaneously helping them fulfill their own purpose. Thus you cement partnership between individual and organisation to create a mutually beneficial virtuous cycle.
The arrows, however, go both ways. This depicts the fact that each element not only leads to the next, but also flows back to the preceding one, acting as a reinforcement that strengthens both its power and the power of the whole cycle. For example personal growth also enhances the individual’s value which in turn makes them more of a ‘Triple A Employee.’
So there you have it; a recipe for creating ‘love at work’ that ensures the synergistic partnership of employer and employee and their sustainable mutual success.
Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.
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.
You might be surprised. I was. I had come to accept the idea that people quit their jobs primarily because of bad bosses. Yet, according to a recent report in Harvard Business Review, this appears questionable. As a result I found myself wondering why I had been lulled into such lazy conformity.
We all intuitively know that there are any number of reasons why people switch jobs, varying from such things as more money or a promotion (better status), to a new location or simply an easier commute offering more family time. This is simply evidence of that. That is why I am not sure I agree with my friend Alex Kjerulf when he says it is too soon to draw the conclusion that “leadership does not get retention.”
That is not to say that leadership is not a factor in retention. Certainly the fact that you do not like or get on with your boss will make a decision to leave more likely, but whether it is a primary motivator or not is debatable. Let me explain.
Wellness, 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.
What do you make of this chart that I came across this week?
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.
Virtually 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.
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.
There 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 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.”