THE COURAGE TO CHANGE

A few weeks ago the NY Times OP Ed page featured an article by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath entitled Why You Hate Work. Apparently it was one of the most widely read and responded to pieces in the Times, having more than 500 comments made. Obviously it struck home to readers. A 2013 Gallup Poll report states only 30% feel "engaged at work". Schwartz’s company partnered with Harvard Business Review last fall to survey 12,000 plus people some of the results of which are discussed below. The Schwartz Porath article identifies four essential needs that when absent, diminish a worker’s experience dramatically, having a domino effect on the culture and effectiveness of the entire organization. They are opportunities for Renewal, Value, Focus, and Purpose.

On a recent webinar conducted by the Institute For Corporate Productivity on Managing Talent I was pleasantly surprised to see that current research about companies considered high performance organizations confirmed the importance of an employee’s experience at work, and consistent definitions and language across business units and whole systems, as leading indicators to corporate high performance.

Their findings aligned very nicely with the findings of Dr. Elliott Jaques, my mentor, who over a 50-year period of social analysis developed the comprehensive system of building highly effective organizations known as Requisite Organization. Although they used different language the message is the same. (Read: Social Power and the CEO available at Cason Hall. Here is my take on a few of the points made. • A requisite organization is by definition a high performing organization • Business strategy and values inform the work to be done • Managing, consisting of assigning work clearly, providing parameters within which an assignment needs to be done, and giving feedback regularly are all aspects of Jaques’ role of a manager. They are also consistent with the new data on high performing organizations. • Consistent language and agreed upon definitions were a passion for Dr. Jaques. They are a requirement for scientific rigor to be applied to the field of management making it a science in and of itself. The complexity, size and cost of multiple systems now necessitate common language within companies. However as a field of science, management is not yet there.

Elliott conducted his social analysis throughout the world on six of the seven continents and in every workplace he entered he found workers who wanted to do a good job, wanted to be treated with respect and integrity, and wanted feedback as to how they were doing and how they could do better. They wanted fair remuneration. My career also confirms that most workers want to do a good job at work. They want to be appreciated, valued and recognized for their efforts. They want to be paid and treated fairly and have opportunities for advancement from which to choose.

We see the debacle that has unfolded at the VA. It took courage for those that blew the whistle, in some cases incurring the wrath of management and co-workers, to stand up for what they believe. At GM the ignition switch failure has resulted in a first round of firings. Will CEO Barra be able to keep her word that this will not be tolerated going forward? Will she be able to restore pride and a productive culture at GM? Time will tell. Both lapses resulted in people dying. Yet criminal action is not being talked about openly.

Summer Solstice begins tomorrow morning. The cycle of summer begins. It happens every year about the same time. Solstice requires no human effort or courage. It happens naturally. People however, require courage and effort to change. We have power over how we perceive what is happening to us and around us, and what we do about it.

More now than ever in our lives we need to slow down and allow time to reflect, to know what we value and whether we are living a life based on our values and beliefs. If we are, fine. But if not, we must muster the courage from within to do something about it. Only then will we have greater personal satisfaction and bring greater positivity, productivity and profitability to our organizations.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Gandhi

Happy Solstice weekend! Let me know what you think.

EngagedOrg.com, our blog was initiated to create awareness and dialogue about the importance of people being engaged at work. This is not only essential for individual well being, but also for the creation of vibrant organizations, communities and our country as a whole. We must fix what is broken!