How to improve your performance, easily
The pace of change is continuously increasing. Competition is popping up from all over the world. New giants are emerging from countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa. This puts a lot of pressure on the capability of organisations to accommodate and to counter these challenges. But ‘the organisation’ cannot do anything without its people. Without its people it is just a name and a building where nothing happens. So, increasingly the employees themselves have to cope with all these new demands. This creates a paradox, as most people don’t want to change, they want to stay in their comfort zone. How do you get them out of their comfort zone? Basically there are two reasons why people want to change: to avoid pain or to gain pleasure. Most change is driven by fear, fear of financial problems, layoffs, and bankruptcy. This gives people negative energy to act. They will act, but only to avoid these problems and feelings. It is much more motivating to change in order to gain new market share, to grow, to get promotion/more responsibilities. This gives people a positive stimulus to change.
However, in most organisations there is a lack of balance between:
– Professional and personal development
– The organisation’s needs and the individual needs
– The outer and the inner world of people
– Existing and new business
Most of the focus is on professional training and development and this is only the case when the financials are in order. This means that the last couple of years, the investments in this area have been minimal. There is hardly any room for personal development through coaching and training at all. Mostly the employees have to pay for it themselves, if the companies are willing to pay the bill, than they are in serious trouble (demotion, outplacement).
Furthermore it is only the numbers that count, the profit, the share price and so on. But how are you and your employees feeling? Are they happy, peaceful, joyful and fulfilled?
The main drive of businesses is survival, so they are looking for ways to protect their existing business. There is not a culture where people are stimulated to think out of the box and come up with bright ideas for creating new businesses.
Restoring the balance
In order to create this balance (again) there must be a serious effort to improve the soft aspects of running a business. Or put in another way, the awareness has to increase that the employees are really the most important assets. And there is a thorough need for maintenance.
As this has been said for almost 40 years, something drastically has to happen. So, I propose to create a new position within the board, the Chief Wellbeing Officer (CWO). This person is responsible to restore the balance through increased attention for the individual needs and strengths of the employees. In this respect, executives and managers are employees as well. This CWO must have the authority and the funds to create a program, which is more important than any other business program. He can create a Wellbeing Scorecard to keep track of the progress.
The main elements of that Wellbeing Program should include:
1. Top (the new executive, his team, shareholders, the board)
2. Trust (the culture, employee engagement)
3. Teams (effective relationships)
4. Talent (identifying key supporters)
5. Time (develop a business plan)
6. Technology (systems)
Ad 1. Top
It is not only very lonely at the top, but also the demands of the job are getting higher and higher. The risk of failure is quite substantial. The most important reasons of derailment are:
· Difficulty balancing life and work,
· Being somewhat insensitive to others,
· Failing to delegate enough to empower and inspire subordinates,
· Not being appreciative enough of others’ contributions.
So, there is a need to help the executive to develop his interpersonal sensitivity and to have balance in his own life. They need to realize that there should be a focus on numbers AND people.
Ad 2. Trust
If the employees don’t trust their managers and executives, it will be almost impossible to create a lasting change. If they change it will be most of the time lip service only. The executives have to be the living example of what they want to see differently. This can be a small thing like wearing their badges continuously up to being very appreciative to others. Multiple studies have proven that employee engagement will lead to a 50% increase in productivity and a 33% increase in profit.
Ad 3. Teams
There is a lot of information available on how to improve the performance of teams. One of the most important elements is to create sustainable relationships within the team and between teams. And the basis for that is trust. If there is no trust in each other, the output will be rather minimal. The teams should preferably consist of people from all the different departments who play a role in providing the product/service to the customer. And just as important it should include people from the top as well as people from the frontline. Given the current rate of change it is no longer possible for a single person or a single department to have all the answers. So all the people involved should be mobilized.
Ad 4. Talent
Talent is independent from age. But it should be discovered and developed. This can be done through developing the strengths, rather than the weaknesses. It doesn’t stimulate people to send them to training to improve their weaknesses. However, they will be very motivated to further develop their strengths. Like Dan Pink is saying in his latest book, A Whole New Mind, there is a need to focus on developing our right – brain capabilities. This is equally true for young as well as older employees. As more and more baby boomers retire, people will have to work after 65 years of age. People can only cope with that if they do what they love to do, where they are passionate about. So, their strengths need to be in the lead.
Ad 5. Time
It seems like there is always a pressure on time and real time delivery. This means that it is critical that every employee knows and understands the direction the organisation is taking and what their own goals are. This makes it easier to make decisions and to focus. So, the business plan should not be a binder in the desk of managers, but it should be a working document for everybody. With this fast pace it is even more important to detach yourself regularly. Only when you detach, you can notice things, see solutions, which you wouldn’t have detected otherwise. It is also key to relax your mind to have a clear perspective as well.
Ad 6. Technology
It is amazing what technology can do these days. And your organisation has to stay on top of it, otherwise you might loose the game. But technology is not running your business, it remains a tool. People are more and more stressed because they are day and night working with the use of all these mobile devices, voicemail and so on. This does not improve your performance. People are much more productive when they take regularly time off. And also it is the people who will use the systems and if they don’t see the added value, they will only use it in a very limited way.
Any organisation will run much more smoothly and efficiently when people know what is expected form them, when they have the resources to do the job and when they work from their strengths. To restore the balance between the hard and the soft aspects of running a organisation the CWO has a crucial role to play.
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