The final letter in H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM is Y for Yes! When an individual feels empowered, trusted and supported, he/she/they will take opportunities, stretch themselves and grow. For a business to be able to fully capitalise on the skills and experience of each and every employee, it needs to create an environment which encourages taking a leap and trying new things. It’s all down to your attitude to risk and change!
There also needs to be an ‘always-on’ attitude to change and risk, constantly scanning the micro and macro environments for areas where a business can say ‘Yes’ and capitalise on a change ahead of its competitors.
At the heart of this approach is an organisation’s attitude to failure, risk and ‘giving things a go’.
For a business, there are two sides of the Yes coin: the internal side (employees, culture, processes, systems, production), and the external side (business environment: market, global trends, competitors).
The Internal Side of ‘Yes!’
Employees are only a business’ most important asset if they are fully engaged. Forbes describes these employees as…:
“(Fully engaged employees are) loyal and emotionally committed to the organization. They are in roles where they excel and where their talents are truly leveraged. They enthusiastically invest in their work and take on responsibilities outside of their job description.”Forbes
Engaged employees are also empowered employees. The Internal Journal of Management published a paper by Ghosh called ‘Employee Empowerment: A strategic Tool to obtain Sustainable Competitive Advantage. In it he comments…:
“It is the expectation of most human beings that they should have power, authority, recognition, status, responsibility and when they get all these, they exert drives to utlize their full potential, energy, abilities and competences in an attempt to excel their performance“.Ghosh
In a nutshell, when humans feel valued and have autonomy they perform at their best and they become engaged.
Research shows that employee disengagement costs the United States upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity! So it’s clearly an area that has a business impact, but how can you tackle it?
Harvard Business Review’s paper on empowering employees resulted in three interesting conclusions:
- Empowering leaders are much more effective at influencing.
- Empowering leaders are more likely to be trusted.
- These leaders were more effective at influencing employee performance in Eastern, compared to Western, cultures.
So we need engaged employees and empowering leaders to maximise an organisation’s potential… but how?
- Job role & training: Put everyone in the right role with proper training, remove hurdles for development and provide meaningful work with a clear link to the organisations mission and objectives.
- Feedback: Provide regular, objective feedback.
- Communication: Transparent and regular communication with opportunities for engagement & input.
- The culture around failure: What and how is it labelled? Who is ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’ to fail? How is it communicated? What happens after something is deemed a failure?
- Innovation and Creativity: Are employees incentivised to think creatively? Provide ‘safe’ spaces for developing and testing and time for people to do it.
- From the top: Every level of management from CEO down needs to support the message that saying ‘Yes’ is a positive and rewarding attitude which is encouraged.
The External Side of ‘Yes’.
Every business knows that it needs to keep its wits about it if it wants to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition.
Innate within this truth is the accepted need for change and the confidence to be able to say “yes” to an opportunity or an idea when it arises at the right time, knowing that your business can maximise it.
There are three elements that need to be in place for this to happen:
- Eyes and ears everywhere. Research and monitoring of your micro and macro business environments should be happening all the time, with a feedback and reaction loop built in.
- Internal flexibility built in.
- Systems should be as ‘out of the box’ as possible.
- Process should be as lean and automated.
- Management structures should enable change by well-placed entrepreneurial leaders in the lower levels, enabling leaders in the middle and architecting leaders at the top (for definitions and the power within these roles, read more in the HBR article).
- Communication systems should be varied, reliable and proven.
- Practical action. Studies show that 2/3 transformations fail within most organisations, so using both hard and soft approaches to change management projects is critical, as well as having the right people leading the programme.
Each business is as individual as each employee, so there are no hard and fast rules for any of this, but by being aware of the areas to concentrate on, you significantly increase your chances of reaping the rewards from saying ‘Yes’.
We have extensive experience working with organisations on how to manage change successfully and how to explore the ideas of risk, innovation and creativity in a practical way. Let us know where your challenges lie and we’ll see where we can help.