In our December blogs, we commenced a trilogy of practical, challenging and good news articles for the Christmas Season. One of the quotes that I referred to was that of Anatole France: To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act. It is repeated for ease of reference.
As a quick recap, in our first article we wrote of four mission critical activities that you could undertake before Christmas so as to ensure a successful 2016. They are:
1. Set a Vision bigger than you
2. Determine the timeframe and set the milestones that need to be achieved
3. Set the goals for the milestones
4. Write down the plan of action
The second article was focused on the all-necessary, Execution. Indeed, the first is daydreaming if you do not Act with Intention. The headings were:
1. Clear and communicated goals
2. Bringing the resources to bear
3. Management control
4. Hard work
In this third and last blog as we rise into the fun and family of Christmas, is the most important mission critical activity in my humble opinion. In order to introduce the topic, one of my best learnings from a programme at Harvard was a quote by the ex-Chairman of ALCOA [the Canadian equivalent of Huletts Aluminium]. As background, he had been the CFO for many years when the board sought a new CEO. Of course he was highly competent at finance but may have lacked the “leadership flair” required to be the CEO. He managed to convince the board and was appointed. He tells of how he sweated over what he would do to stamp a culture of “People matter” into the organisation. He decided that as people do matter, he would introduce a culture of Care to the organisation.
Given the nature of his industry, he decided that Safety would be his first priority. Soon after his appointment with the issue of Safety clearly communicated as a matter of priority, he visited one of Alcoa’s plants. There he came across a person grinding metal without safety glasses. He asked why and discovered there were not sufficient glasses to go around so, on a first-come-first-served basis, some workers were allowed to take the daily risk of eye damage. He called the Supervisor over, confirmed the story and fired him on the spot. Word sped around and his leadership was stamped on what became an incredible period for the company. He then said this, which I repeat often:
People give you their hands, their heads and their hearts [and then what really struck me] and they give them to you in that order.
He made the reality and the requirement of making People your primary focus absolutely clear to me. He encapsulated all we require to make our businesses happy and healthy. He also raised the bar very high for me and every one I worked with. Indeed, it is obvious to me that Mutual Respect and A Sense of Belonging are core pillars for any business.
Let’s spend some time on the cusp of Christmas, unpacking these four elements:
You buy peoples’ hands. When you interview a new person and appoint the best of the candidates, you make them a job offer which they accept. The first thing they read is the salary, the benefits and the bonus. The rest is waffle that they eventually prove or disprove. I read my son’s job offer the other day and it commenced, quite un-customarily, with a statement about the culture of the company and the style of management and employee interaction that they sought to portray, them to him and him to them. I was impressed with that and wished I had applied such a statement in my offers over the years. It became the mirror against which he and they could reflect every interaction going forward in his career. What’s most impressive is that they have not let him down on one issue so far. But that said, they have paid him and bought his hands. His labour, or as the economists would call it, his unit of labour is R”So much” per hour and his Letter of Appointment tells him the hours he must work per day for the pay he will receive.
It is tragic that many labour polls repeatedly confirm that staff have decided that, treated as a unit of labour, you can only expect their work. Given the hours [obviously excluding lunch, tea times and smoke breaks in this scenario] and the job’s instructions, that’s what you can expect. No more, no less. I have worked with many people in large corporates that see work as a means to an end – it’s not just prevalent in government.
So how do you break out of such a menial, labour-only mentality? Begin to see people having a sense of meaning and a desire to achieve.
Two well-known motivational theories come to mind: Maslow and Herzberg’s theories. Maslow believed people seek to rise from Physiological needs, through Social and Emotional needs to the Need to Self-Actualise. Stephen Covey of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, took this a step further to Self-transcendence being the need to actualise in order to serve others and live life at a level higher than your self-centred needs. Of course, self-preservation to self-transcendence is a journey but, as a leader, you can assist in motivating the upward tendency at the level of each individual’s potential.
Herzberg [Google his theory for further insight] speaks of Hygiene factors and Motivators. Hygiene factors eg never enough paper for the copier machine [or the toilet :)], aggravate people but only become conspicuous by their absence. They need to be solved before their irritation turns into a reason for demotivation. But, Motivators such as Achievement, Promotion, and Recognition, become lasting forms of motivation. Only once in my life have I seen a person who questioned their promotion and eventually stepped down; the rest were extremely happy. When last did you restructure a job to give more responsibility, catch someone doing something right, compliment achievement or tell someone they have what it takes to succeed? If you want heads at work – thinking, questioning, curious, initiating, deciding, improving heads at work, then look to yourself and the manner in which you handle people.
Hearts are not easily or quickly won. Just watch The Bachelor J. We all feel vulnerable giving our hearts to someone – will I let them down, will they reject me, it’s just silly or too emotional, will they hurt me or divulge confidence? How much more unlikely giving your heart to your company or your boss? It’s very tough to win people’s hearts. So what is the secret to getting the brain switched on as the employee enters their office and then giving it everything they’ve got as an individual and as a key team player with their colleagues and their team? You build trust and confidence; it takes time and patience. Look how the ALCOA CEO started – Safety first – and then the rest. In a multi-billion Dollar enterprise, he put the People first and fired anyone who didn’t understand the Rule – for him it was not a game; the protection of his employees was non-negotiable and sending them safe to their families every night was HIS responsibility. How do you think it feels when you work with [never “for”] a boss like that? If you can trust him to worry about your eyesight, perhaps you could trust him with other important things. And, by the way, his Union relationships improved dramatically as well.
So it is, you win peoples’ hearts one step at a time. What do you get for your effort? Commitment, Dedication, Loyalty [not the kind you only get from a Labrador], Compassion, Others-centeredness, Care, Growth and, a big one, Willingness. I have been blessed to experience those kinds of people even in the most dire of circumstances. Each of us who floundered our way through 2008-2010 needed every scrap of “heart” that everyone could muster. Try retrenching people when you’re still doing well because pipeline is still strong whilst explaining that the pipeline was going to collapse soon [by 90% eventually] and the packages they are receiving now would not be available when that happened. You need Heart right then ‘cause hands and heads just don’t cut it. And even better, when things are going well and recognition is being handed out, Heart accepts it gratefully and determines to do more. Perhaps, in a nutshell, it’s just amazing to work in a company where hands, heads and hearts come together every morning to enrich colleagues’ and customers’ lives.
4.Peoples’ Order of Priority
Let’s dwell on the negative for just a moment to make a point. If you breach “heart” in a relationship, everything recedes immediately back to “hands”. A sad fact. It is no different in your personal life as what it is in your business life; it takes years to build trust and confidence and minutes to dent, or worse, destroy it.
On the positive side [it’s Christmas after all], the process of building from hands to head to heart is quite possible. Believe it or not, the Golden Rule is a very good place to start. How do you like being treated? You accept a job you’re confident you can do, you get paid month after month, you get some targets and you work hard to achieve them and then you are promoted by a boss who indicates they like you and you receive an increase and carry on performing and then, when your parent dies, the boss goes to the memorial service out of respect for you……..not too difficult when you read it. And what’s the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. It sounds childlike, but it isn’t that much more complex. Let’s try it another way. You take the job, but it’s a little more than you can chew so you approach your boss and they agree to help you. You start with some mentoring and they set tasks for you to achieve. If you don’t, they correct you and if you do, they compliment you. Slowly but surely, admitting mistakes and building self-confidence, you achieve higher and higher targets and get rewarded in the process. How does it feel and what would you not do for that “fabulous” boss? You could probably mention someone who has meant that much to you – a teacher, a spouse, a boss – someone who built your confidence, enthused you to higher things and privileged your life. The order is always the same – hands, head and then heart – and your personal values have much to do with the process. To explore this further, you may wish to look at McClelland’s X and Y theory. How you choose to see people often determines the height to which they rise; starting with your spouse and your children.
It has been a privilege writing these blogs for Homeloan Junction. They have stretched me and caused me to revise what I know and research what I need to know. If they have benefited you in any way, we are pleased that we could make a small difference in your life. 2016, in the light of local and global events, looms before us. But, as a nation, we have known worse and overcome with application and faith. We will do so again. For each of us, the challenge is to do what we can, to influence what we can and to harness the resource of our People to achieve the goals we have set and agreed. It is no different for a self-manager, or Homeloan Junction, a corporate or a country. We trust you will take the time to reflect on a vision greater than you and then action it to the point that your heart knows meaning and blessing in the years that lie ahead. Two sayings, believe it or not, off T-shirts in a gym:
Whoever you are
Wherever you go
Whatever you do
Be Yourself and live your dreams.
I determine to:
And one for the road, the prayer of St Patrick of Ireland:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Yours in Property