Happiness at work

A Powerful New Social Contract

It’s true: you don’t know what you don’t know! So, logically, you cannot miss it. But that does not justify the old adage that “ignorance is bliss.” You can certainly miss the benefits that the knowledge could bring you, which means your ignorance creates an opportunity cost of which you are blithely unaware. But are you the only one incurring this? If your customers and clients are aware of it, you will be and your business will be uncompetitive and struggle. If they are not, then the cost is multiplied and you are doing them and yourself a disservice, and running the risk of losing goodwill when they realise the fact. That is why we should always be open to new ideas and learning new things – a lesson I learned afresh recently.

Social Contract 33960354_s_123rf_comI cannot now remember where but I came across the term “social contract.” I had never consciously encountered the term before, so it seemed totally new to me. Thus it stuck in my mind, prompting me to look it up a few days later. I wasn’t surprised by its implications, but I was surprised to learn that it is far older than I would have surmised, for Wikipedia defines it as “an implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for state protection. Theories of a social contract became popular in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries among theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as a means of explaining the origin of government and the obligations of subjects.”

Certainly this is more wide-reaching than I had envisaged. While I would never dispute the need for a social contract between citizens and their government, I see a social contract as more fundamental: basically as the integral thread of any organisation, with government simply being a higher form of organisation. After all, any organisation is, by definition, a collective of people and, as such, involves reciprocal rights and obligations in order to survive and thrive. Thus you need a social contract to cement this reciprocity. More a matter of principle than legality and thus largely universal rather than specific, in an ideal world this should eliminate the need for individual employment contracts. In any case you would hope that these principles underpin all employment law.  

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that every employee “invests” a significant portion of their short time on this planet in their work. In return they are entitled to respect, reward and recognition of their need to optimise their lives. Similarly, the organisation operates in an ever-changing, competitive world that demands an ability to recognise, respond and adapt to change. Those characteristic are people-dependent and thus there is no getting away from a need for people. Thus, in order to ensure that it survives and thrives, every organisation needs engaged employees who subscribe to and care about the organisation and its needs, and who are willing to take the action necessary to meet those needs.  

You would think this reciprocity would be recognised and every effort made to achieve it. Yet this is not the case. For centuries commerce has been disrupted by industrial conflict: distorted by adversarial attitudes, disputes and “class warfare” between managers and workers.  Who knows what the cost of all this has been? It certainly needs to end.

Shaking hands 878566_s 123RFThat is why I was excited to realise that the Zealise ‘”Every Individual Matters” Model provides the perfect basis for building in and integrating the social contract. It resolves that enduring challenge of how to value employees as assets, and thereby reverses the de facto accounting and treatment of them solely as costs. This ensures that it becomes mutually beneficial to optimise employees’ capabilities, while simultaneously offering the means to ensure a less adversarial and more collaborative and co-operative attitude within organisations, as well as a more equitable way of distributing the rewards of their endeavours. Together this ensures an effective social contract that creates a culture of collaboration that optimises performance and results.

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If you like what you have read contact me today to explore how my original thinking could help you break though logjams that are inhibiting your business or how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could help you value your people and provide the catalyst to help you create an organic culture where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding continuous improvement that engenders ‘love at work’ and transforms – and sustains – organic business performance.

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Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organizational culture model that helps transform organizational 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.


Breaking the Barriers to Change

Breaking Barriers 123rf.com 7805513_sChange has been endemic in business for decades. Yet identifying, initiating and implementing it successfully has never been straightforward and results almost invariably fall short of expectations. All too often this failure is attributed to employees’ reluctance to change and thus labelled “change resistance.” This is a phenomenon that is perhaps more easily understood when you consider the non-business changes we are encountering now.

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Shape Sustained Organisational Success by Building it into Your DNA

Shared Values & Common Purpose11663318_sIn 1991 Charles Handy concluded that the basic purpose of an organisation is to perpetuate itself within the context of the environment in which it operates. You might not have thought about it in quite that way, but that conviction encapsulates and drives everything you do as a business leader. It shapes the way you think, the way you act and the way you expect others to think and act. That’s perhaps inevitable, but nonetheless spelling it out provides food for thought. Not least because it demands a long-term outlook.  

Most business leaders will plead that they are thinking about the long-term and will cite all their strategic planning efforts as evidence of this. Yet, notwithstanding this, there seems to be increasing consensus that focus is too much on the short-term. All too often corporate failure seems to come as a major surprise: whether after a long-lingering painful demise that drained energy and resources, without achieving anything and failing to avoid the inevitable, or suddenly, as with the failures that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis. This is subjective territory and open to discussion beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that we need a more effective way of addressing the longer-term measures of organisational performance.

Here too Handy once again gives us some pointers as to how. He said, “The companies that survive longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world not just growth or money but their excellence, their respect for others, or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul.” I call it ‘Love at Work.’ But whatever you call it, it stems from people – your employees, your customers, and your suppliers – and the way you treat them – and Science supports this!  

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Why You Need Love at Work

The idea was novel.  It had promise. It was exciting. Yet part of me still baulked. “People won’t take me seriously.” “I will be ridiculed.” “It is too alien: no businessman would be interested.” Those were just some of the doubts that paralyzed me.

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Good Leadership and Organisational Well-Being

Well-being iStock-511789168Continuing with the last week’s theme and pursuing the subject of leadership and the question of whether or not you are a good leader, another area worth assessing is your organisational well-being. Is this a topic you ever consider and, if so, to what extent? Ideally you will regularly be asking yourself:

  1. What is the state of our organisational well-being?
  2. Am I doing enough or could/should I being doing more to improve it?

Yet you are perhaps unlikely to be doing so. Why? Because there does not even seem to be any generally accepted definition of organisational well-being!

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Seasonal Wishes

It seems to come around more quickly than ever, as if trying to catch you by surprise.  Nevertheless, ready or not, it is once again the time of the year to take a break from business and the responsibilities of everyday life and focus on things that are just as - and possibly even more - important. No doubt you have earned the break and, however long yours is, as you take it, I wish you and yours everything you wish yourself for the festive season holidays and the coming New Year. May you see the fulfillment of every one, and even more. I look forward to your company again in the New Year.

2016 Happy Holidays

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If you like what you have read contact me today to discuss how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model could provide the catalyst to help you create a culture in which everyone cares and the business becomes our business, embedding improvement that transforms – and sustains – organic business 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.


Securing the Successful Future of Your Organisation

How not to lead change - 123rf_25317560_sLess than 3% of leadership time is spent on collectively building a view of the future. At least, so said Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad in their book “Competing for the Future.” You might find some comfort in the fact that shocking statistic is over two decades old. But, even if things have improved subsequently, it is cause for concern.

Both the pace of change, and the fact that 70% of change initiatives, reportedly, fail to achieve their objectives, suggest that proportion should be significantly higher. This implies a need to take action to improve matters. Before identifying how to do that, however, you might ask, “Why, given the rate of change, do leaders not spend more time on this?” After all, safeguarding the future is surely a primary leadership responsibility.     

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No Mas! It’s Time to Make a Stand!

No More 123rf.com_23101498_sYou could count all the words of Spanish I know on one hand, but “No Mas!” is a phrase I remember well (thanks to an historical boxing match last century.)  But it took on a new relevance this past week.

This stemmed from a TED talk, “How to Save the World (or at Least Yourself) from Bad Meetings” in which David Grady coins the phrase “Mindless Acceptance Syndrome” or “MAS.” As you might expect from the talk title, he is referring here to an unthinking acceptance of attendance at meetings, something he definitely sees as needing to stop.  If, like most people, your life is plagued by meetings, you will find it worth the less than 7 minutes investment of your time.  For me, though, it had a deeper significance than just meetings.

There were two primary, ultimately inextricably linked, reasons for this.

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Human Governance: Golden Rule or Platinum?


Weighing things up 123rf.com_17770089_s
Last week I wrote about The Golden and Platinum Rules in the context of Customer Experience. Today I want to discuss them in the broader context of human relations before, once again, narrowing the perspective and looking specifically at their role in the workplace. But, first let’s ensure a common starting point.

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Achieving the Remarkable

Remarkable 123RF 48999371_sLike millions of people all around the world, I have been enjoying the spectacle of the Olympic Games. Watching top performers at the peak of their abilities is always good but the Olympics are special. They offer a unique combination of competition and camaraderie that creates a WOW! that uplifts athlete and spectator alike.

There can be no doubt about the intensity of the competition. Every athlete is striving to stretch beyond anything they have ever achieved before and prepared to endure massive physical discomfort in the process, which is what makes it such compelling viewing.  Nevertheless, the competition somehow still, ultimately, seems to become secondary. Goodwill and good sportsmanship is manifested in a way it isn’t in any other sporting arena.

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