Start with who you have

In SHRM’s 2016 publication ‘Creating a More Human Workplace Where Employees and Business Thrive’, solid evidence is presented on why focusing on enabling people to thrive in their work ‘boosts a company’s performance in a sustainable way’. The report identifies seven ways to help employees thrive:

  1. Share information about the organization and its strategy

  2. Provide decision-making discretion and autonomy

  3. Create a civil culture and positive relationships

  4. Value diversity and create an inclusive atmosphere

  5. Offer performance feedback

  6. Provide a sense of meaning

  7. Boost employee well-being

For each strategy, further research, real examples and advice is offered, with inevitable references to the pervasive, some might say intrusive, colossus that is Google.

One is left with the conclusion that this is all eminently doable - ‘many of these strategies require few resources, whereas others are more of an investment. The key is to start’.

We will dive deeper into these strategies in the near future, however I want to make a case for where best to start.  A fundamental issue with these strategies is that, for simplicity, people are treated as a homogenous group. We know this is not the case as strategy number 4 points to!

So in what ways do people differ that will have a material impact on all these strategies?

Simply put, the differences in individual values of each and every person in an organization. Our senses tell us that we all live in one world, and – true enough – we share one planet. But our senses mislead us if we conclude that we all experience the same reality and that fundamentally, we all see the world in the same way. If we did, then ‘what worked’ for one could work for all, and we’d just need to provide enough facts or education, or the same type of inducements to resolve an argument or end any conflict. In reality, as far as communication and motivation are concerned, we have not one world but three. These three worlds are hidden from us because they are not physical but psychological: yet what divides them are our most deeply held beliefs about what is really important - our Values. The worlds are Settler, Prospector and Pioneer.

As an example, values research tells us that the desire for and comfort with decision-making autonomy differs depending on whether your dominant drives are Settler, Prospector or Pioneer values. Pat Dade’s article on ‘What makes for a meaningful life’, he illustrates how meaningfulness has very different meanings based on values differences.

So start with who you have.  Find out what makes your people tick.  In so doing, actionable ways forward will be revealed for how to enable people to thrive within your current system and resources. From there, you can judiciously apply the well presented advice in the SHRM article.


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