Talent Management

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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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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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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