“Fortune favours the bold.” Or, perhaps Queen Elizabeth I’s legendary rendering of the sentiment as “Faint heart never won fair maiden”, may be more appropriate here. But, whichever statement you prefer, it’s true. After finally unveiling 'Love at Work' after hesitating for several months, I now question why I did. The response has been entirely positive.
That is not to say it has been overwhelming, but perhaps that is hardly surprising, if you fail to see the benefits immediately apparent. So let me take this opportunity to try to explain 'Love at Work' in a way that I hope will get you as excited about it as I am. The diagram should help, even though it does take some explaining.
- The different, but co-ordinated, colours of the segments of the circle;
- The bi-directional arrows on the outer edges.
Dealing with the second point first, the bi-directional arrows are intended to represent:
- The corporate or organisational perspective going clockwise and the individual or employee perspective going anti-clockwise.
- The mutually reinforcing aspect of each segment strengthening the adjacent one and thus sealing a virtuous cycle and the win-win for both parties.
The Organisational Perspective
We start at the bottom in order to depict that as the foundation. Thus your organisation exists for a reason and has a strategy to fulfil that purpose. It will do this more effectively if you have engaged employees or what I call ‘Triple A Employees.’ The more engaged an employee is the better the organisation will perform. But at the same time the more engaged your employees are, the more their value to your organisation increases and needs to be recognised. This feeds back and enhances their contribution as a ‘Triple A Employees’ while at the same time they need to develop personally in order to keep meeting your changing needs. This both enhances their value and assures their continued “fit” within the organisation. In turn this sustains your organisational strategic capability, whilst also reinforcing the need for further personal growth. So there you have it, your complete, virtuous circle.
The Employee Perspective
Again we start at the bottom. Your employee has a purpose in life and a personal strategy to try to achieve that purpose, and thus sees employment with your organisation as the means to do so. Thus, ideally, there is an initial alignment between their aspirations and the organisation’s. But, even if there isn’t, by definition employment implies degree of personal fit: the individual has to be capable of helping your organisation deliver its strategy as well as their own. Then, as things change over time, your employee will need to develop and grow in order to sustain their fit. Personal growth sustain their fit, whilst also enhancing their value. This enhanced value – and your recognition of it ensures they become ‘Triple A Employees’ whilst also reinforcing their efforts to increase their personal value. And of course as ‘Triple A Employees’ they enhance their value whilst helping secure the strategic alignment that sustains your organisation’s performance and results. Once again you have the complete virtuous circle.
The Beating Heart
So now you have the energy of 'Love at Work' that inspires your organisation and its culture. You still, however, have to create the environment in which it can flourish and thrive. This is where the colour coding of the diagram comes in.
The blue segments on the right are fundamentally the responsibility of HR, much as they always have. They will have to adapt the systems, structures and procedures to deliver the growth requirements and performance recording much as before. Only now, instead of insisting upon annual performance reviews, HR will need to oversee a system of annual personal reviews. Instead of the traditional focus on performance – which in any case should be ongoing – these revamped reviews will be focussed on the employee and their aspirations and growth, and aimed at better aligning your individual employee’s career aspirations with your organisation’s present and future needs.
The reddish segments on the left are the areas addressed by my ‘Every individual Matters’ Model. This provides the seal for your virtuous circles through mechanisms for:
- Valuing employees as assets and thus ensuring that their value is recognised and communicated;
- Creating, ensuring and sustaining ‘Triple A Employees’;
- Establishing and maintaining the data necessary to allow HR and Management to fulfil their respective roles more effectively.
The grey segment recognises the reciprocity of mutual need. While naturally giving primacy to your organisational purpose and strategy, it also acknowledges and addresses the fact that your employees also have aspirations and are, essentially, investing their lives in working for your organisation. This forms a bridge between the more humane aspects of HR and the more empirical aspects of Finance and Management, and creates a common language that will enable the two functions to communicate and collaborate more effectively than they have in the past. This in turn:
- Creates a new dynamic between organisation and employee that cuts through the core of traditional industrial conflict;
- Fosters a new partnership between organisation and employee that serves both better.
- Creates greater strategic alignment that significantly improves, secures and sustains organisational performance.
So there you have it. ‘Love at Work’ is the means to radically transform your organisation and its results, and to enhance your own life and your employees’. That is a “fair maiden” worth winning. Can you really afford not to embrace the romance?