People that know me know that:
· I am passionately committed to helping organizations create new models of working together.
· That I have spent the last three plus decades reading the models of others as well as synthesizing and testing my own models to do things better.
Today I experienced an interesting juxtaposition of a couple of things that spoke to me.
The first is this quote from Aurelius Augustinus, who most of us know better as Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo and perhaps one of the most profound influences on the Catholic Church.
The concepts of employee engagement and employment branding are getting a certain amount of press these days with both supporters and detractors. I am firmly in the supporter camp based on both my research and my personal experience.
Much of the discussion around engagement is who owns it and how does the care and feeding of an engaged environment take place. I find that Augustine’s direction from 1700 years ago was pretty accurate then and now.
More recently I had occasion to read Ken Matejka’ s Why This Horse Won’t Drink, and I discovered an “updated” version of what Augustine was expressing-
Commitment is the act of being physically, psychologically, and emotionally impelled. It means that employees gladly give up other options.”
When I am conducting leadership sessions with senior executives I often pose the question to then “Can you imagine a time in your organization where employees arrive every day physically, psychologically, and emotionally impelled to fulfill the goals and objectives of the organization?”
Most of them are honest enough to admit that would be a stretch, but they then wistfully remark how that would be pretty awesome.
In my mind an engaged environment is when that occurs. It is about alignment, clarity, and trust; not about morale, happiness, or cool perks.
The problem is we are doing it wrong.
A multi-year study by international consulting firm Development Dimensions International yielded some interesting information (at least to me)-
· The highest quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform the competition
· Only 38% of those surveyed (12,000 line executives and 1900 HR executives) rated their leadership or leadership development capability as high or very high.
· 60% of those who applied for leadership roles indicated their primary motivation was economic- they wanted to make more money!
Our leadership models are based on compliance, not commitment or engagement!
Dustin McKissen, founder and CEO of McKissen and Company, talks about this in his recent blog post in Inc Magazine, http://on.inc.com/29U7O4r, The Rotten Core of Every MBA Program.
He specifically cites our ongoing infatuation with Frederick W. Taylor and his Scientific Management models-
While Taylor's theories are viewed as harsh and impractical today, his work was still cited in every class I attended that discussed the roots of modern management science. What's not often discussed is how little Taylor thought of the people who actually produced products in the factories he studied.
While there are people who say that Taylor isn’t relevant anymore when I hear academicians and business leaders refer to people as human capital I am not sure I am buying it.
When I watched what happened during the recession where many organizations retreated into their old behavior and told employees, don’t complain about your compensation, you are lucky to be employed, and downsizing once again became the primary management strategy to improve productivity I still feel Fred’s presence.
It is amusing to hear those same executives now complaining that they can’t recruit and retain the talent they need to run their business- go figure…
When 60% of the applicant pool for leadership roles cite more money as why they want to be leaders I am pretty sure creating an environment where people are impelled is not top of mind.
So what do we do?
My recommendation is we build a new model with the following elements:
· Be proactive in developing, implementing, and reinforcing your culture.
· Recognize that the foundation of your organization and success are based on understanding and embracing the three levels of trust, not just deterrence and competency.
· Ensure that you understand the implications of congruency and you either build it in or retrofit your organizational models to embrace it and reinforce it.
· Only hire and promote leadership candidates with both the appropriate attributes and the right skills.
As I have written at length on these areas previously I will save you from my rambling today. If the subject interests you check out my website at www.newparadigmsllc.com.
We are leaving billions on the cutting room floor every year, by hanging on to the old models.
We need change and if not now when and if not us than whom?