“During a race, I never wear a wristwatch, and my bike doesn’t have a speedometer. They are distractions. All I work on is finding a rhythm that feels strong and sticking to it”, says Dave Scott, six time winner of the Hawaii Ironman triathlon.
What he means is that he rejects outside-in obligations, a way of saying he does what he feels like doing- ironically enough, inside-out goal setting blows the competition away!
Here is a hint for HR people grappling with decreased employee engagement at the workplace. You think you do everything right: wellness programs to boost employee well being and ensure that the employee is more productive, short term and long term incentives to boost engagement and a host of other creative initiatives. . Yet, at the end of the month, you find dwindling employee engagement scores across organizations. The situation, however, is quite different with people working in NGO’s or charitable organizations. The difference is that people in the former are driven by tasks and goals set by someone else and in the latter, they do what they love doing. They have found that inner “rhythm that feels strong” and have stuck to it.
The problem in fact, lies at the core of our business beliefs. We still believe the age old adage, “What gets measured, gets done”. But that was the industrial era, or at best the early information era. We are in the experience economy now. People are motivated by experience. And what is the experience they want? The answer lies in moving from the outside-in approach to the inside-out approach, so that employees are not bound by external obligations.
The focus of businesses worldwide has now drastically moved towards human capital. We are in the era of strategic convergence. Yesterday’s best practices are no longer the strategic advantage. Consultants can ferry them across the globe. The Information age has flattened the world. So you can rely on superior processes or practices only as much! Rely on your people.
Today, successful organizations have to be flexible and adaptable to respond to the rapidly changing market conditions or they risk becoming fossilized remnants of a bygone era. And since it is people who will drive the success of businesses, their needs are of prime importance. The motto is quite simple- free the people from externally driven goals, let them choose what they want to do. Easier said than done? What about Semco SA led by maverick leader Ricardo Semler? On his second day at work he fired two-thirds of his management (“Sometimes Change Management involves just that - change management”!) and built an organization based on the simple premise of giving people the freedom of choice. Of course such an “audacious” form of industrial democracy needs leaders, the likes of which are few. But there is no doubt, our age old motivational theories are either no good or wrongly implemented. If you want a world class organization, let freedom and innovation thrive. Because more often than not the former drives the latter.
As so succinctly put in the article “The Motivator’s Dilemma” by James Clawson and Douglas Newburg - “The difference between good enough and world class is the difference between obligation and choice.”
Contributed by - Anirban Chowdhury, Student of HR Leadership Program, SOIL