What do employers want? Top performers for free. What do they get? Demanding, slow, lazy, ungrateful children constantly complaining: We cannot make it to the deadline...Stop changing requirements, just make up your mind, already?!...You think we are miracle workers… sure, we can do it, if you give us enough resources, unlimited budgets and time...and stop pressuring us... We need to relax from time to time, we have a life, you know… We deserved it, since you’re making a fortune on our hard work!... You expect us to work with this equipment?!... Are we back to dark ages?... Turn on some heating, we’re turning into ice cubes here… Why didn’t you wash this free fruits you put on our tables, what kind of benefit is that, if we have to do it ourselves?! ...This is unbearable, we’ll just go look for another job!
What do employees want? Top salaries without having to work for it. What do they get? Ruthless slave drivers with no compassion and mercy: I need this done until yesterday...Do I have to tell you everything? Figure it out for yourself, that’s why I’m paying you... Show some initiative! Tell me how to solve this...I don’t know what, exactly, but I need an answer!...Where are you going, it’s only half past midnight, we still have some work to do... Hey, I heard about some revolutionary new technology we could use. Find out what it is and learn it by tomorrow!... Oh, you are worthless... Want vacation? Forget it! Clients are not satisfied with your performance… Raise? Are you kidding? On what grounds?... I feel like I’m running a charity organisation! I’m surrounded with idiots!...I’ll just sell everything I own and go fishing…
Ok, I overemphasize a bit, but you get the point. They are on the opposite sides fighting for the same cause. They all want to make money and do a good job they can be proud of. How they achieve this goals? With constant bickering and mutual accusations. Hmm...is this the smartest way?
Reason for change
A lot of people seem to think that work and happiness cannot be put in the same sentence. Work is a battlefield. Happy is associated with fun, relaxation, leisure, carelessness and it has nothing to do with stressful deadlines, customer complaints, bullying managers, low incomes and uncooperative colleagues.
Clients want great products and services at low prices and they want it fast. To give them that and survive on the market, employers need highly motivated employees, passionate and committed. This is a number one quality they look for. Competencies, experience, knowledge and skills are necessary, but without motivation they are useless. It’s like you have a great car with best performances just lying there in your garage. Without the fuel you won't really get anywhere.
Happiness movement is trying to find out what is employees fuel.
Some theory…Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory
Psychologist Frederick Herzberg published his findings in the 1959. book The Motivation to work. According to him, individuals are not content with the satisfaction of lower-order needs at work like those needs associated with minimum salary levels or safe and pleasant working conditions. Rather, they look for the gratification of higher-level psychological needs having to do with achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the nature of the work itself. This appears to parallel Maslow's theory of a need hierarchy.
However, Herzberg added a new dimension to this theory by proposing a two-factor model of motivation: lack of Hygiene factors lead to dissatisfaction at work, and presence of Motivation factors leads to satisfaction at work. What this basically means for the management is that you want get your employees happy by giving them money...you will make them unhappy if you don’t, but happy no. Money is a Hygiene factor, necessary, but not enough.
Managers reaching out
When you hire someone you don’t just add another paycheck to your list, you form a relationship and the quality of that relationship will add fuel to their performance or undermine it.
Because of fast changing, demanding market conditions, job requirements are getting more and more complex. There are still a lot of simple jobs available for non qualified workforce and the old management command and control style suits them just fine. But for more advanced skill jobs managers all over the world are trying out new approaches that would bring them closer to their people for better accomplishments.
Some of them think that showing their human side to their employees, will do the trick.
Arranging team building activities, taking them out for dinner or some cold beer, traveling together, sightseeing, organizing some friendly sport competitions, playing games, laughing… Some companies have serious budgets just for this purposes. They are ready to do anything necessary, just to improve communication between them. Even hiring HR professionals to help them in breaking the tension. Is this enough? For some, this is a drag, just another obligation keeping them away from their families and friends. But even for the ones that really enjoy these gatherings, the results are short termed. One day you are baring your soul to your new closest friends and feeling like anything is possible, but when you get back to work you will realize that very little have really changed.
The secret ingredient to high performing team
Managers are surprised by this. They’ve done everything they were supposed to, everything they were advised to. What is missing? The team is not performing any better. They are not engaged. They don’t care much about the company. They are not all in.
But just like in any relationship, it all comes down to trust. And the main issue with it is - someone has to do it first. So who will it be? This one never stops to amaze me. You hire talented people and then you smother them with micromanaging. But why did you hire them in the first place if you doubt that they can perform... I mean, I do get it. Managing is a hard, stressful job. You are responsible if your team doesn’t deliver, so you push them and control them and interfere in every step they take to ensure results.
You think first they have to prove themselves and then I’ll trust them, but actually it is the other way around. First you give and then you take. And the stronger one always gives first. People might misuse your trust, but not all of them will. And those are the ones you want to keep, to have around, to count on. Those are the ones who will go the extra mile for you, the ones you can do great things with, the ones who will help you beat the competition. Without that engagement from your people, you won't achieve much. And in the end that will cost you…
Wise leaders know what makes their people tick, what is their fuel. And it is not the same for everyone. That’s what leadership is all about. You are not their friend, you will never be equals, they will never let you in their inner circle. They don’t need you for that. But they do need you to be able to tap into theirs potential that is usually hidden from a superficial view, so they can add real value to your company goals and not just doing what they are told, because you are not their enemy either. Rules and boundaries are necessary in any organization, but if you impose too many of them, they will only find a way to work around them. When you actually trust them to do the job you are paying them to do, being open to their ideas and value their input it will do the trick. Remember, giving them Hygiene factors is not enough, they need Motivation factors too.
You want them inspired and all wired up for the task ahead. That’s what happiness is all about. It’s not about clowns and animators and cheerleaders squads and swimming pools and games. It’s about connection you have with your people.