Our Publication

The real value of your people

Jul 17th

If people are an organisation’s greatest asset, are you doing enough to let them know? This issue also includes: how to demand less and get more; managing strategic change; and the deal with psychologica contracts.

Editor’s view

The real value of your people

If people are an organisation’s greatest asset, are you doing enough to let them know? Employee motivation has taken a dramatic dip at a time when we need people to feel most valued.

There are stories about airlines striking, global corporate restructuring, organisations and governments demanding more for less, however how are employees feeling and what do they want? I keep hearing that it’s the people within organisations that are the asset – is this truly the case? Certainly plenty of time and energy is given to attracting and selecting the right people.

Speaking recently with an employee of a major British airline who has been based at the same airport for six years, we uncovered that they had not had, a single conversation with their line manager during that time.

So, what would make the difference? Communication from their line manager telling them openly and candidly where they stand, in an authentic way, would go a long way to help. It seems simple enough however many leaders seem unaware of the importance of giving or receiving feedback even though it is a core leadership capability. Leaders need to communicate consistently and frequently to ensure people feel valued and listened to.

Leaders and employees alike are being forced to shift their mindset. Many used to consider from feedback as something formal and difficult that happens only at appraisal time or when there is a problem. Now they should think of it as a positive, motivating and two-way learning process, not always easy to do but definitely made harder by avoidance. It is very important to get it right and taking responsibility is a key first step.

Richard Branson says “_people generally don’t leave their jobs through lack of pay – they leave because they aren’t valued. Many companies put their people in boxes – if you are a switchboard operator, you are always a switchboard operator. But we value our people and encourage them to be adaptable and innovative_.”

If leaders do this, people will feel more valued, be more engaged and importantly motivated and productive – which is a win-win for everybody.

In the news

How to demand less and get more

Sony Pictures are leading the way in progresssive leadership. By focussing on managing employees’ energy not time, they’ve made significant inroads into employee burnout and disengagement.

I recently read an article about how Sony Pictures gets more out of people by demanding less. I was intrigued to find out that burnout and employee disengagement were the major contributors, and that helping them manage their energy not their time turned this around. A shift in the way leaders manage employees, viewing them as human beings not computers, and investing time in meeting their core needs helped people feel more energised and inspired to be able to cope with personal and corporate demands. Interestingly the single biggest derailer is not having full sponsorship and engagement from the leadership team.

We agree that by addressing what people feel within the organisation you can identify and manage your organisation’s energy and most importantly not waste energy. To manage energy it is necessary for us to discover where it comes from, what influences it, understand how to focus it, and find ways to release it.

Organisational energy has two measurable dimensions: level and direction. A headless chicken has energy without direction. A chain gang has direction without energy. The high energy organisation not only energises its people but also channels that energy purposefully towards results.

We have found that organisational energy comes from four sources, each with an emotional and rational element. Why the distinction between rational and emotional? Because we know organisations are often good at managing the first and struggle with the second. These sources of energy are known as ‘the 4C’s’: Connection, Content, Context and Climate. You can identify your organisation’s energy and, crucially, re-direct if for better performance, by working on these ‘Cs’.

Find out more about organisational energy index.

Tip of the month

Managing strategic change

Delivering a successful strategic change management programme is a challenge. Find out how you can increase your chances of success by following these four simple design principles that achieve real results.

Are you restructuring or having to put in place a new strategic change programme? We have distilled our shared experience of what helps achieve sustainable change into four simple design principles:

  1. Create ‘pull’: people happily adopt change when they see it is something they want and need to do their jobs more easily and to deliver a better result. All messages need to refer directly to these themes so that people make and draw energy from the connection
  2. Focus on outcomes: leaders have to create a concrete picture of what they want to have happened at key milestones in the service of the bigger picture and motivational strategic outcomes. This gives people clear aims, guidance on prioritisation of activities and a greater sense of progress and achievement towards the overall goals
  3. Spread ownership wide: all employees have to be engaged fully in the shared challenge of making strategic change happen. There are some things (e.g. new technology and business processes) that need to be managed centrally. However, these work best when they are driven by ‘champions’ rather than functional leaders
  4. Think culture, not just systems, tools and processes: if you design the change programme as something that will help shift mindsets then you are creating a culture that fosters continuous change and improvement.

Your questions answered

I’ve heard people in my organisation talk about psychological contracts, what exactly are they and are they important?

A psychological contract is an informal agreement: the perceived (but mostly unarticulated) ‘expectations’ an employee and the organisation have of each other. A great example of this is the so called military covenant, but psychological contracts are everywhere.

It is important to get them out in the open, because they:

Set the healthy dynamics for the relationship
Clarify the understanding between employees and the organisation
Create the practical mechanisms for alignment, integration and commitment of people to the organisation and its success
Are usually more influential than the formal contract in affecting how employees behave from day to day (in a good way).

This article is filed under: Change, employee motivation, , leadership, organisational energy, people, strategic change management, strategic communication, strategy, transformational leadership, workforce management

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

two + three =