As H Agents, we love to see workplaces where managers believe in, nurture, and build upon the capabilities of their people. These workplaces thrive because the people in them are:
In too many organisations, managers tend not to focus on people's strengths, instead focusing on setting tasks, making targets, and telling people what to do. This often comes from the top of the organisation, driven by the fear of failure, or missing targets and bonuses.
Today we learnt that the former CEO of French telecom company Orange, Didier Lombard, has gone on trial in Paris. Prosecutors will argue that he devised and implemented a strategy of psychological abuse through creating an anxiety inducing work environment.
The accusation is that Lombard implemented a major restructuring of the telco that aimed to reduce its workforce by 22,000 people over three years. It is argued that the company implemented a deliberate strategy of harassment to intimidate employees into leaving. This would reduce restructuring costs by saving redundancy related payments.
Prosecutors allege that managers had been trained to demoralise their teams, and their bonuses were dependent on it.
Between 2007 and 2010, 19 workers committed suicide, another 12 attempted suicide, and 8 suffered acute depression and were signed off as sick as a result of it. When asked to explain the high rate of suicide of company employees, Lombard dismissed it as a "fad", and was eventually forced to step down as a result of community outrage.
It's easy for many of us to imagine how such a terrible workplace scenario could be created. We've seen managers that have a tendency to place excessive focus on the things that go wrong. As their reports, we then inherit their fear, which can then be played upon as we begin to doubt our own competence, contribution, or even loyalty.
Thankfully the Orange case is not typical. There is, however, little surprise that such a situation could actually have occurred. Many of us can relate to a workplace culture where:
When these are the cultural norms in a workplace, then people put themselves first, politics and gossip thrive, and the quest for power (or avoiding being the victim of it) becomes the driving force of decisions, actions, and interactions. For most people, that means "cover your butt"!
When we are focused on covering our butts then we are typically not thinking about teamwork, innovation, or creativity. Yet these are all important aspects of the human condition, and our organisations need them in order to grow and develop genuine competitive advantage.
So, we care about building valuable enterprises through enhancing the human condition, and we think there is an urgent need to start conversations about how that can be achieved.
Change Agents, perhaps you can start by asking some challenging questions in your own workplaces:
Business is a uniquely human endeavour. It is a product of human inspiration, creativity, determination, and perseverance. Without these human elements, there is no business. At all. Ever.
Too often, we hear business managers tell their people that "without the business then we would have no livelihood". Actually, it is the other way around.
Without people, then the business would have no life. It is the people that enable the business, bring it to life, sustain it, and give it the energy it needs to prosper.
The way we account for people in the business, though, does not reflect this. Our accounting processes are broken. In our accounts, people are only recorded as a cost and a liability. Managers might talk of 'people being their best asset', but when their annual accounts come out, the balance sheet is bereft of any people assets. They are only wages and salary costs, and leave and pension liabilities.
Where do we show the asset of people's energy, inspiration, creativity, and potential? These are too hard to measure, and even harder to value, so the accounting scorekeepers ignore them. Yet, these are the beauty of humanity, and we all know they are insanely valuable.
If we value humanity, then as business leaders, we should not be merely focussed on the people costs and liabilities. If we don't value humanity, then we don't value business. When we lose the focus on humanity then we stop building our businesses. We merely sustain them. Without the potential of people, then the business itself has no potential.
The best business leaders focus on the potential of people. They focus on the energy, drive, ambition, and aspiration of people and tap into that to nurture their business growth. They don't see 'sales' as supporting their employees, they see their employees as enabling their 'sales'. They grow their business by growing their people. These are the leaders we remember, and these are the leaders that build impactful brands.
These leaders know that the true cost of people is not their wages, salaries, and leave entitlements. The true cost of people is the lost business potential if they fail to nurture, enable, or facilitate the creativity, innovation, determination, persistence, and resilience of their team.
The H Factor System Home Page
The H Factor system is designed for business leaders to nurture the contribution of their team members to their business objectives. The Home page is your business story about why your business exists, the brand you want to create, the things you need to build on your success, and your values.
It enables your people to see the bigger picture behind their work, and identify their contribution to it.
The H Factor system was designed around natural human behaviour, and the drivers of business value. Contact us today to arrange a demonstration.
How much of our day is spent on the BS in our workplaces? BS comes in many forms, but it usually involves people being very busy rather than people being very productive. In many workplaces, it becomes a part of the culture where being seen to be busy is far more important than being seen to be contemplative, reflective, creative, or thoughtful.
As work becomes more and more about doing tasks, then people start to have more and more stuff that needs to get done. It piles up and sometimes overwhelms us. We stay late getting it done. We jump from one task to the next. We never really celebrate finishing stuff - in fact, we might not even want to admit that we finished something because we might get something else to do. Or worse, somebody might think that we're not busy, not important, not useful, or no longer contributing.
We get judged on, and judge others by, busy-ness. For some it has even become a status symbol.
Yes, we often hear our workplace leaders talk about things like engagement, happiness, and making a difference. Then these things become someone's task, and the cycle goes on. Meanwhile, according to research, less than a third of us feel genuinely engaged at work, believe that our work actually makes a difference, or obtain any sense of fulfilment from our jobs.
It's no longer fanciful to imagine a future of robots and artificial intelligence, where we have amazing machines that can do most of our busy-ness for us. Will we care whether the robots and machines are happy? Probably not.
We are not robots. While doing tasks and keeping busy my make us feel important (for a while), safe that we will keep our job (for a while), and maybe even profitable (for now), the cost of our busy-ness obsession is mounting up. In many instances we are ignoring our emotional needs - because we undervalue them and in our busy-ness paradigm we see them as annoying distractions.
Organisations that embrace their humanity actually perform better. They embrace human traits like creativity, contemplation, social connection, and vulnerability. These are the organisations that are solving big problems. They're the ones inventing and disrupting. They're the ones attracting great talent. They're the ones people want to work for.
At some point, someone in these organisations called out the BS. They decided that taking the time to contemplate, reflect, create, and think was more important than being busy.
When we started our journey of building The H Factor system, we were looking to create something that would help managers move beyond the command and control management style. We had experienced that the instructional management style that was applied last century is no longer as effective in the modern flexible workplace.
When we spoke with managers, nearly everyone said they were seeking something that would genuinely encourage engagement, contribution, shared ownership, and accountability. They felt that there wasn't any tools available that supported how they wanted to manage. Nearly every tool they used in the business actually dragged them back to the command and control approach - having to instruct rather than lead.
The job description is a good example of this. It is usually a list of tasks that must be accomplished. So, from the very start of a person being in a role, they are receiving instruction. "You will do this task, this often." How do they genuinely take ownership of that? The most they can do is demonstrate their compliance with the task schedule. When they and their manager then review their performance, then both are merely assessing compliance with the instruction. If leadership results from that then it is by accident, not by design. The most likely outcome of that review is further instruction. Command and control.
So we designed a process that enabled a shift from the instructional model to an engagement model. Not by coincidence, it is very similar to the model that coaches apply in the development of elite athletes and teams.
The process begins with clarity of the desired outcomes. What do we want to achieve, and why does it matter? This clarity of the outcome then leaves the person in the role to determine how they will achieve it - they will establish the tasks, which belong to them, and they can seek instruction on doing those tasks if and when it is needed.
Alignment is important. It enables the person in the role to appreciate how their outcomes fit with the organisational purpose, the roles of others in the organisation, and the function of the teams that make up the organisation. In many organisations this is assumed, in The H Factor we make it visible. Alignment is the gateway to the 3 rules of accountability.
Accountability is also assumed in many organisations. This assumption is the cause of most of the frustration managers have in managing their teams. Take away the assumption. Agree on who is accountable for what, and frequently discuss with each person how they are going about accomplishing their accountabilities, the barriers that are obstructing their achievement, and the opportunities for learning and improvement. Isn't this what a performance review should be about?
The opportunity to guide is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a manager. It is a wonderful experience to be a part of the development of another person. Instead of being focused on assessing, when we switch that focus to guiding, then we build trust and genuinely encourage action. We contribute to their competence, capability, and confidence.
Now we are leading. We are enabling. We have transitioned from being instructors and assessors to now being genuine leaders. Achievement is the outcome of our work as leaders. The ultimate achievement is our contribution to the development of elite players, those that create the extraordinary and inspire others to follow.
Isn't that far more rewarding than having to constantly tell people what to do? It's worth making the transition from being an instructor to being a leader, and we created a system to take you on that journey.
The H Factor Positions
The positions tab enables everyone in the organisation to see how their role fits into the business structure. They can see every position in the organisation, including:
This creates alignment. It gives visibility of the performance requirements of everyone in the organisation and creates the alignment needed to build accountability.
Positions are built around outcomes, not tasks. This enables a deeper and richer performance conversation where the person(s) holding the role can then describe how they will achieve the outcomes by setting and agreeing their own tasks and actions. The outcomes have already established the common view of what success will look like.