17 Jun, 2018

You are so not normal!

I watched a Simon Sinek presentation recently and he was talking about how the management thinking of the ‘80s and ‘90s has caused real challenges in business.

You are so not normal!

Somewhere in the late ‘70’s there was a shift in business thinking from customer value (i.e. by delighting your customer they would value what you do and that would lead to a successful business) to shareholder value (do all you can to make things profitable for the owners of the company).

In one sense, it makes sense (and I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of different economic theories here) but for the people who work in an organisation it throws up some significant challenges.

Suddenly there was a shift from taking pride in your work and having a vision of a happy customer – something any employee can identify with and feel satisfaction about – it became about making a few people rich. Very, very rich.

And, to do that, there was a seemingly endless cycle of cost cutting in order to increase that shareholder value.

The people making the products and delivering the services were doing it with less and less in order to make someone else’s fortune.

What's in it for me?

As a model it fails to answer one of the most fundamental questions all humans have. What’s in it for me? It drove a mentality of ‘do as your told’ and target setting that was linear and designed purely to increase profits.

While things are improving, that mentality remains and the impact continues to damage business.

Still, today, when the going gets tough, no one is inclined to ‘get going’ because their aren’t connected with the business. Their personal values don’t align with those of the business – which are often written up on noticeboards but not followed by the leaders in the organisation, let alone anyone else.

So, if this is just a ‘place to work’ why should they go above and beyond to make it a success. It isn’t as if they will see more than a tiny fraction of the rewards for all their hard work.

So, how do you correct this lack of ownership in order to motivate your teams?

To get someone to be their best, ask them …

This is so obvious I can’t imagine why no one ever does it. Ask each member of your team, “How do I see the best in you? How do you like to work? What makes you shine? What are you passionate about?” 

It will be different for each person, but if you know what makes them perform, you stand some chance of offering it to them and getting them to be brilliant.

Don’t kick over the beehive

If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive

This is a saying by Dale Carnegie:

If you want honey, don’t kick over the beehive 

So, get rid of annual appraisals and performance reviews and any other sticks you use to beat people with. And, especially get rid of any performance system which rates people along a normal curve – because people aren’t normal. I can think of no more destructive thing to say to a person than, “You did a good job but I’m scoring you as average because someone else worked harder than you did.”

Make it a daily habit, not an annual process.

I’ve talked about this before. You light the spark in people by appreciating them and showing them that what they do count. Not once a year on a form. Not when you remember. Not only when they’ve done something exceptional. Every day – in teams and individually. And show them how what they do makes a difference. Point out how their role connects to the overall vision of the company.

Do these three things and your teams will see what is in it for them: appreciation and a sense of making a contribution.

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