Why Employee Engagement Efforts Aren’t More Effective
Mastering “The Paradox of Being Human”

“The Paradox of Being Human” and Its Implications in Organisations

“The Paradox of Being Human” is how Simon Sinek refers to life’s constant conflict between selfishness and selflessness: between “me” and “we.” We spend our lives vacillating between the two perspectives; zigging towards our own wants and zagging towards pleasing others. Yet our survival depends on our ability to juggle these opposite, apparently mutually-exclusive, demands. And always has.

So much so that, as I wrote last week, humans are biologically programmed for it. The table below illustrates the paradox and provides a succinct summary of this biological balancing.

Biological Underpinnings of the Human Paradox

Yet, the fact it is biological is significant from a management and an HR perspective. It demands a fresh approach to organisational design and development because it indicates:

  • Physical and psychological factors are inextricably linked. This necessitates a more holistic approach to addressing employee well-being.
  • Getting a balance is a continuous ongoing exercise and therefore ‘equilibrium’ is at best transient.
  • As a result, and because the over-production of any of the chemicals is unhealthy – for both the individual and the organisation – you need to be alert to, and prevent or monitor, situations that could cause it.

Being a paradox can imply that there is unlikely to be any universal panacea. This is not good news, for most of us work in or for organisations. Thus, by definition, work invokes a situation where we need to balance our own interests with those of the organisation. Consequently it places us in a position where such conflict is practically permanent. The term "work-life balance" epitomizes this. The fault-line is, ultimately, the dichotomy between individual and organisation. As long as there is a difference in their respective aspirations, goals or objectives, the paradox applies and appears to have no viable solution.

But what if you were to eliminate the difference between individual and organisational goals?

Clearly this would seal the fault-line and lay the foundation for a more effective organisation through greater synergy, greater collaboration and greater satisfaction. Naturally, because the biological factors are situation responsive, you will still always be susceptible to the cracks reappearing, but efficient processes, procedures and systems ought to provide the ‘seismological’ warnings to prevent that happening.

So how do you achieve this?

The answer is surprisingly simple: employee ownership.

There is no better way to align individual and organisation than to give employees a “stake in the game.”  And the ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model offers you the capability to create universal employee ownership, with every employee having a stake in the business and in its performance, at no cost to either employer or employee.


If you like what you have read contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can provide the catalyst to help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ : one where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, so embracing change and transforming – and sustaining – 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.


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