Purpose – Having staff who are excited to be at work!

Previously I have spoken about Mastery and Autonomy, both critical components to helping create and foster a culture of success. When combined with the 3rd and final factor the sum total really is greater than the parts.  That final factor is Purpose.

The value and meaning of Purpose in the workplace is perhaps best conveyed through the following allegory:

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away 3 men could be seen working hard in the village. A traveller seeing the 3 men toiling stopped to inquire as to their labour.

To the first man he asked, “What is thy labour for?” Hearing the question, the first man wearily turned to the traveller and replied dispiritingly, “I toil to layeth bricks. Day after day, my hands grow weary as the bricks feel evermore heavier. My back aches and my hands burn. Yet every day, more bricks awaiteth for thee”

Sensing the man did not want to continue to speaking the traveller turned to the second man. With similar curiosity to the first labourer, the traveller enquired, “What is thy labour for?”

The second man replied with somewhat more energy, “I am building a wall. This wall will help our village to stay safe from enemies. It is hard work, and like my friend my back too grows sore and weary. But I know I am helping to make the village safer.”

Looking over at the third man, the traveller couldn’t help but notice the focus and intensity the man was applying to his work. He seemed to be doing the same labour as the first two men but his approach was markedly different.

The traveller ventured closer to the third man and asked, “What is thoust labour for kind sir? Why does thy toil with such ferver? ‘

The third man seeing genuine intrigue on the traveller’s face expressing, paused and replied,

“I toil intently good sir because I am working to keep my family safe and happy. My 2 friends and I work on thy wall every day. Hard, physical work no doubt that it be. But I know thy purpose of my toil is for the benefit of my dear wife and our young son.”

Continuing the third man said, “I know that every morning when I awaken I have been given another day to set about my labour. Not just to move heavy bricks around but to build thy biggest and safest wall the village has ever known. I know that I have a new day that I can use to make my loving wife and son feel safer and looked after.”

Impressed with the third mans answer, the traveller questioned, “Do thy two friends have young families?” “Yes,” replied the man, “However, they unfortunately just focus on thy bricks and not thy safety the wall we are building will provide. For me, every brick I lay means my family is safer.”

“If you don’t mind kind sir, I wish to end our conversing and return to my work.” The third man spoke to the traveller. “Certainly, and I wish thee all the best with thy endeavour.”

The traveller continued on his journey leaving the 3 men working away at their task. Reflecting on his conversations, the traveller was quite amazed that each man had such differing perceptions about their work. To the traveller they all appeared to be physically doing the same work. Yet to each man, their work had a vastly different meaning.

All of us no doubt have days where we feel like the first man, struggling with ‘lifting heavy brick after brick’. We sometimes lose sight of the purpose of our work.

However, when we can tap into that purpose, that very same work can significantly change in its meaning, difficulty and level of fulfilment.

As a leader at DFP this focus on purpose is something I am cognisant of instilling in my team. What is the purpose of our team’s work? Not just the purpose for the business but for them personally?

How can we create and foster a culture of increased awareness on the professional and personal purpose behind our team choosing to dedicated 40+ hours of their life a week to our organisation?

When a team member’s personal purpose aligns with the professional purpose of their work, look out! The productivity, fulfilment, success and enjoyment will go parabolic. I challenge you, whatever your role in your team, find your purpose and enjoy the results!

Autonomy – Letting good people do good things!

Today I am continuing my discussion concerning employee engagement and optimisation. Following on from my recent post on Mastery in the workplace, I want to share today some thoughts on another factor, equally as important – Autonomy.

Autonomy in the work environment can be thought of and perceived in a number of different ways. In fact, there is a whole gamut of theories and practises applied in business today that fall under the heading of ‘autonomy’.

The aspect I am speaking about here refers to allowing staff the freedom and breadth of flexibility to really own their role and responsibilities within the organisation.

Typically, discussions of autonomy are categorised with principles centred on systemisation, streamlining and economisation, almost with an undertone of homogenisation. However I feel this misses a crucial component- that of human interaction and what is fundamentally the core human needs we all share- to feel competent and capable.

In this light, I believe Autonomy when cultivated and encouraged by the leaders of an organisation affords staff the opportunity to fulfil their core need to feel worthy and competent. Allowing your staff the autonomy to perform their roles knowing you trust them, knowing you have faith in them is a significant productivity and qualitative enhancer. Autonomy provides your staff with the understanding that you value their judgement, knowledge, skills and experience.

Upon reflection the reasoning again is emergent and simple. When competent people are allowed to perform their chosen role in a largely autonomous way they are freed from the onerous task of placating a ‘meddling’ manager- they are free to focus on what they actually prefer to engage in.  A competent staff member who is recognised for the qualities they possess is virtually certain to outperform someone who is excessive monitored.

At DFP rather than micro manage our staff, I am constantly striving and working with our senior leadership team to instil the value of Autonomy.  I believe that hiring good people, giving them clear benchmarks and processes then allowing them the freedom and autonomy to set about achieving their goals is the optimal way to produce results.

I see a large component of my role as CEO as working with my team to illicit the qualities from within them that will help them best achieve their goals. For me, this approach is far more ideal than constantly pushing, pestering and micro managing.

Does this approach mean at times I have a staff member who’s approach or style will differ from what  I believe is the best way to perform a task? Of course, but at the same time I recognise that it is very likely a happy, competent and actively engaged staff member is quite likely to still produce the goal result even if the approach differed.

Next time you are dealing with a staff performance issue, why not stop and consider is it a greater level of performance management that is required or perhaps a correctly applied, deft degree of Autonomy?

A the core of the issue you are dealing with, is it a lack of job specific skills  or is it something more fundamental in that the staff member that providing Autonomy may neautralise?

As an experiment, why not consult with your team and elucidate the areas of their work where a greater level of Autonomy may help to improve their performance and success at work.

The answers may well just be a surprise…….

Mastery in the workplace

Employee Engagement is crucial for any leader of an organisation. Today I want to discuss the core factors which cultivate increased levels of engagement, productivity and results.

The 3 factors researchers identified as critical to ensuring a team of happy, fulfilled, self-motivated and top producing employee were Mastery, Autonomy & Purpose.

Today I want to explore the first of these 3 core factors: Mastery.

Mastery can be described and articulated in a number of different ways. However at its most basic form it is simply the natural desire we all share to improve and become better at something.

Very often, employees get caught up in ‘having’ to perform at work. And just as often, the environment that permeates in today’s workplace reinforces the culture of having (you must!) to do better.

On the surface this seems rational. After all, every business wants to improve, do better and leverage their staff to produce even better results.  Why not make it a directive that everyone ‘have to’? But as we dig deeper the research is showing this is not the optimal approach.

What is now starting to emerge is that a different approach, one focused on creating and cultivating a workplace culture where employees feel encouraged and free to improve and master rather than ‘having’ to improve. This leadership approach can yield desirable results. As you begin to think about this, it intuitively makes sense and the logic emerges as self-evident.

This is what I see as one my key roles as a leader at DFP – catalysing the creation and sustained momentum of a ‘mastery’ approach to work. If I as the CEO of the organisation focus on creating a mastery based approach the benefits ripple across all areas of the business.

People are capable of creating and doing amazing work. When they are in a work environment that is deliberately shaped to encourage mastery their passions are ignited and focused. Creativity is enhanced; internal motivation arises and compels them to work longer, harder and with greater efficiency.

Think of the hobby or favourite past time you enjoy. Why do you do it? It’s certainly not money that drives you; after all you don’t get paid for it. It’s the idea that working on something that is fun and improving at it is inspiring to you. The fulfilment comes from expanding your skills and mastering something that previously you were not able to do.

This same approach to a hobby can be translated into the workplace. Creating a workplace culture with a focus on employees being encouraged and supported to master their role can be rewarding. Not only does it offer greater fulfillment and satisfaction in the workplace but also greater productivity and profitability.

Imagine your workplace full of staff that were driven by the natural desire towards mastery, mastery that was focused around their job. In short, staff would be more willing to do more, to do it better and with less oversight and micro managing.

At DFP we are diligently working to bring a greater emphasis on mastery to our workplace. We are focusing on supporting and allowing our staff to cultivate and foster their desire to become masterful.

Research shows that all of us desire to become masterful of at least one thing in our lives. Why not do what you can to allow that desire to expand and unfold in your workplace?

Communication’s ever changing landscape

Communication has significantly altered. If we look back over the last 100 years we find several dominant mediums, including:

  • Letters (snail mail)
  • Telegrams
  • Telephone
  • Radio
  • TV
  • E-mail
  • Social Media

If we analyse this group, 2 key points become clearly show through:

1. Speed- The delivery of communication has exponentially increased. A letter once took a week to arrive. A Facebook post or Tweet is disseminated in just seconds. The implication is revolutionary. News is spread further and faster – far more so than we are normally used to.

2. Reach- The proliferation of Social Media has brought about a shift in communication that has at times challenged and stressed both government and business alike – decentralised networking.  Whereas communication has traditionally been direct, process driven, with Social Media the landscape has forever changed.

With the right conditions a piece of news can spread around the globe, reaching millions within a matter of minutes / hours at zero cost.

For business this has real world affects that reach deep into a business (beyond just marketing on Facebook). The impact of Social Media on business communication has impacted business at its foundation.

In generations past, the lines of communication were clear. Instructions were passed down a clear chain of command – The CEO – General Manager – State Manager – Branch manager etc.  This was successful and provided great benefit to the business, however times and technology have shifted. Businesses must also adapt or risk being left behind.

Younger team members have grown up in a society where it is normal to find information out from a decentralised method. Vertical chains of communication are essentially foreign to them.

Institutionalised businesses run the risk of being outpaced by new, more adept and agile businesses that move with the speed of social media.

It may be wise to consider how your business communicates; the processes and hierarchies of yesterday may not be equipped to handle the communication needs of tomorrow.