“What if you could just do it any way you wanted to?” I said. “Start with a clean slate, forget the politics, what’s the ideal business solution?”
I saw a glimmer of hope and excitement in his eyes.
“Yeah. How would you set up the strategy?”
“What will lead the business to the best possible outcome?”
My client reflected for a moment.
He paused for thought.
An idea surfaced, I could tell by the way his face lit up.
Then his face dropped; and with a small shrug, said:
“No. There’s no way we can do it that way…It just won’t work around here”.
It makes me sad.
Sad because it doesn’t have to be this way.
If people are giving up before they even attempt to give it a go, it is likely you have an employee engagement issue, which in real terms, is a symptom of your organisational culture.
There are so many statistics and studies these days to tell us the impact employee engagement has on an organisation, both positive and negative. Believe me, I’ve absorbed many of the studies and worked with several businesses where you can really see it’s positive and negative effects.
My client was bogged down with corporate BS. Politics of the shittest order.
He was ‘disappointingly disengaged’.
I use the term ‘disappointingly disengaged’ when talking about some of those brilliant, passionate people who have their spirit crushed by an organisation that they tried to believe in. They are the sort of people who want to come to work to do the best job they can do, but the inherent cultural and organisational problems are too much to keep them fighting.
Energy sapped, engagement low, motivation to try and change things against the odds… almost gone.
Generally, the good ones will leave if it carries on, and you find yourself with a problem attracting and retaining talent.
In a lot of cases, the business has some great people in it, but they all pulling in a different direction.
And what happens if you are all trying to get somewhere when everyone is pulling in a different direction?
You don’t get very far.
Hardly anyone gets what they want.
It becomes too tiresome to keep pulling so hard, and getting nowhere.
Engagement suffers. Customers feel it.
Ultimately, the business suffers.
So what if there was another way?
I won’t go into detail on Brain Science here, but believe this:
Thinking of what is possible, makes what feels impossible, possible!
There is another way.
Forget “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Those days are over.
Time to move on and accept that the future of work brings with it change, innovation, possibilities, flexibility and purpose.
Bring people together instead of them tearing them apart. Help people make a difference. Make work meaningful and purposeful. And put it at the heart of your business.
This is what I love to help people do.
It really is possible to do this, even for what you think might be the toughest jobs to do.
I spent some time working in the Water and Wastewater Industry and met some of the most passionate sewage workers you could find! Who knew that clearing up other people’s shit could be so meaningful? But it is.
I suppose in my own way, I do it too, in my fight against corporate BS!
So where do we start?
If there is one thing that can really bind an organisation and its people together, away from their own agenda, is actually having a bigger agenda; a higher purpose. Something for everyone to work towards, aspire to and believe in.
You could call this your ‘Why’.
Without that purpose, and some direction, some people choose to make up their own.
If all the people in an organisation understand that purpose, and how they contribute towards it, collectively, you should start to see things pulling in the same direction.
Next, have Values that actually mean something.
Values that are lived and demonstrated, not just words on a wall. Depending on where you are on your organisational journey there are a number of ways to do this.
Your Values create that culture of “the way you do things” around here. They are a guiding light and tool for behaviour and decision making.
You could call this your ‘How’.
It helps if you can recruit to fit. Attract people who buy into your purpose and values. It is much easier to retain that talent if you do.
I believe that your purpose, alongside your values, really are the two most important things you need to make a good decision.
If you are ever struggling to make a choice, just ask:
Does it help us achieve our purpose?
Does it fit with our values?
Can we implement it in a way that reflects and supports our values?
Of course there are other things to take in to account; financial viability and suchlike. But once you’ve gone through the practicalities and are ready to make a choice, just ask those three questions again to make sure it is worthwhile.
Not just the option that ticked the boxes of consensus or compromise, but the one that answered these:
- Does it help us achieve our purpose?
- Does it fit with our values?
- Can we implement it in a way that reflects and supports our values?
This essentially helps you work out ‘what’ you’ll be doing.
So you know Why, How and What.
The bonus to answering those three questions means you’ll be able to do business with integrity and authenticity.
The other integral piece to bind this together is your communications strategy.
People need to know that Why, How and What. And they need to be involved. And importantly, feel involved.
It’s what pulls them along that journey with you. It inspires action.
As Simon Sinek puts it:
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Manipulation is so last century.
Moving forward into a world of possibility
People are actively engaged.
Everyone knows Why, How and What; they work together, and communicate together, honestly and openly.
They feel a strong sense of community and belonging, with a team all working towards the same goals.
They love what they do, mostly because they feel it makes a difference and can see the difference they make.
Motivated by purpose; driven by values.
Employees and customers are happy.
The doors of possibility are open, and the BS can walk right out.
That’s right, if Corporate BS is killing your business, show it the door.
I’m not promising this will be uncomplicated to implement. There can be a lot of work involved, and it’s useful to have someone guide you through this.
But it only takes a few moments of imagining what it feels like to be experiencing ‘a better way’ and I promise, it will be worth it.
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