An organization with inspired and productive employees prospers. I have been working on a model that demonstrates the components that lead to maximum inspiration and productivity.
This work is not based on any one organization but is the result of many conversations with people from many organizations, as well as reflection, self examination, and relevant study. This is my first cut at this model and I consider it to be a work in progress. I offer it as a way for organizations to reflect on how to be more successful and for individuals to reflect on how they can be more effective. Any note or reference that seems to refer to any particular organization or person is entirely coincidental.
THE BENEFITS OF INSPIRATION AND PRODUCTIVITY
Inspiration provides vision, creativity, problem solving ability, and initiative. Inspiration is critical for an organization in order to capitalize on new opportunities, grow, and remain competitive.
Productivity facilitates the ability to execute. Without strong productivity, an organization will become inefficient and unable to maintain or advance.
LEVELS OF ORGANIZATIONAL INSPIRATION AND PRODUCTIVITY
Organizations often struggle to maximize inspiration and productivity and yet the answer may be as simple as two components: “MOTIVATION” and “ATTITUDE”.
The combination of the MOTIVATION offered by the organization and the ATTITUDE of the workforce determines the overall level of inspiration and productivity of the organization.
MOTIVATION: Every organization has the opportunity to offer a member / employee / customer a chance to be part of something bigger than themselves. The opportunity provided by the organization is the “motivation” we are talking about. If this opportunity is significant, genuine, well articulated, well understood, and believed in then the desire to give all of one’s self to the cause is unparalleled.
LEVEL 1: MAXIMUM INSPIRATION AND PRODUCTIVITY
MOTIVATION: WORTHY CAUSE
A Worthy Cause is one for which you would dedicate time, energy, (or money) whether you got compensated or not because of your personal belief in its value.
WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR A “WORTHY CAUSE”?
In order for an opportunity to be a “Worthy Cause” it must be:
- Significant: The cause makes an important difference in the lives of others
- Genuine: The organization supporting the cause lives its defined values and is committed to its cause
- Articulated: Leadership can clearly and concisely express how the work of the organization supports its values and cause
- Understood: The workforce fully understands how their individual work supports the organization’s values and cause
- Believed in: The workforce believes in their heart of hearts that their work supports a significant and genuine cause that makes the world better
What is love when it comes to work? You walk into the office with peace in your heart and a gentle warmth about you. You treat others with patience, kindness, and mutual support. You believe the best about others and they about you. There is no distrust, suspicion, angst, or self-serving ego. There are no grudges, no blame, but plenty of forgiveness. You care about your colleagues and they about you. In an environment that encourages love, people thrive.
Feelings are often minimalized in the workplace. Ever hear these misperceptions?
- “It’s nothing personal. Just business.”
- “We can’t afford to worry about feelings.”
- “You are a professional. Pull it together.”
- “Crying shows weakness.”
- “Feelings are subjective. They can’t be measured or managed.”
Those sentiments are false of course. In fact, in order to have an inspired and productive workforce feelings may matter more than anything else.
When people feel loved, and give love to others, inspiration, productivity, retention, and results will all surge. Workforce members will go the extra-mile for each other and for the organization. More of their identity will be tied to the organization and they will speak well of it to everyone they meet. They will attract others to the organization (including talent and customers).
Your organization makes a significant contribution to the world and your workforce continues to move you ahead with enthusiasm and strength. They have unstoppable initiative, creativity, dedication, loyalty, and sense of community. New opportunities are constantly being recognized and new ventures undertaken. The organization will develop a strong positive reputation. Your success will grow as will your ability to positively impact others. Leadership must carefully nurture this level as it is their most important asset.
LEVEL 2: RESPECTABLE AND HIGHLY FUNCTIONAL
Some organizations may not quite be able to identify with a “Worthy Cause”. Would people volunteer their time, energy or money to support your organization? Believe it or not, regardless of the business you are in, you may get there if you pursue it. If not, have heart, a company that has genuine values and goals can provide a worthy mission that can propel you forward to great levels of inspiration and productivity.
At Level 2 the organization must have clearly defined Mission and Values. In addition the following must be true:
- Genuine: The organization / leadership lives its defined values and supports its mission and is committed to both
- Articulated: Leadership can clearly and concisely express the mission and values of the organization
- Understood: The workforce fully understands the mission and values
- Believed in: The workforce supports and identifies with the mission and values of the organization
Employees that feel appreciated for their contribution and gratitude for the opportunities they are afforded will perform well and affect others well. This solid attitude promotes a healthy, happy, productive, and supportive work environment
Your organization will set goals and achieve them. You will be able to grow, expand, and attract and retain top talent. Your workforce will be dedicated, highly productive, loyal, and happy. As with Level 1, leadership must carefully nurture this level as it is their most important asset.
LEVEL 3: UNDERPERFORMING
MOTIVATION: INCONSISTENT MESSAGE
Organizations that struggle to genuinely convey how they add value to the world provide an inconsistent message to their workforce. Perhaps there is no clear vision, mission, value statement, or consistency. Perhaps leadership fails to live the values they espouse. Hypocrisy, bias, or mistreatment may be occurring. Poor hiring decisions may have resulted in middle managers who enforce values inconsistent with the organization’s. Regardless of the reason, the organization is struggling to communicate a reason for the workforce believe they are supporting something bigger than themselves.
- Genuine: The mission or stated values of the organization may not be consistently demonstrated by leadership
- Articulated: Leadership may not clearly express the mission and values of the organization
- Understood: The workforce may not be able express the organization’s values mission or values
- Believed in: The workforce may question whether the organization has a genuine mission or genuine values
Employees that feel and express uncertainty are less productive and are prone to bring others down. This uncomfortable feeling can be accompanied by worry, cynicism, suspicion, low morale, gossip, or depression. Your top talent will be looking to move elsewhere and word will get out that your organization is not the place to be.
Not only find will your workforce be uninspired and less productive, but you will also feel as though opportunities are drying up. Inspiration is required for initiative and pursuit of new opportunities. You will be forced to cut costs because the opportunities for growth don’t seem to be there. Leadership must take responsibility and action to change organizational culture.
LEVEL 4: TOXIC AND FAILING
MOTIVATION: SELF INTEREST
When the workforce is only in it “only for themselves” the organization will never rise to significance. Members of the workforce may have lost hope and are simply trying to hold onto their job at all costs. Other workforce members may have always been operating out of self-interest and their lack of altruism and empathy is part of the reason the organization is failing.
- Genuine: Any expression of mission or values may be utterly disregarded by the workforce as a complete fallacy
- Articulated: Actions speak louder than words, and at this point words may no longer matter
- Understood: The workforce may only site mission and values when pointing to organizational hypocrisy
- Believed in: The workforce may feel betrayed
An atmosphere of fear is not only unproductive it is destructive. Many employees are afraid of losing their sense of self-worth either by being degraded, bullied, disciplined, or fired. Recent research indicates that there is surprisingly large number of toxic people in the workforce that purposefully manipulate others and perpetuate fear. They may be part of the reason the organization has faltered in the first place.*
*Note: For information about highly toxic people, I recommend reading Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (by Robert D. Hare and Paul Barbiak), The Sociopath Next Door (by Martha Stout), The Narcissist You Know (by Joseph Burgo), and Psychopath Free (by Jackson MacKenzie). If you have been hurt by a toxic person this last book is pure gold.
An organization motivated by self-interest in an atmosphere of fear will fail. Unless it is able to pull itself out of this unfortunate state it will struggle in agony until eventually it can no longer stand under its own weight. Leadership must take drastic action to change organizational culture or dissolve the organization.
- What level would you say your organization is in? Why? Has it always been this way? What changed?
- What level would you say you are in personally? Why? Have you always felt this way? What changed?
- What can you do to support your organization to rise to a more effective level? How can you do so for yourself?
- What can you do more of to support others within your organization?
- What Worthy Causes can you support outside of work (to support personal fulfillment).
- How can you operate with greater love regardless of the culture of your organization?