What Kind of People Do You Have?

Do you recognize any of these people in your workplace?

  • Employees are responsible vs. employees who are given an inch – then take a mile.
  • Employees who want to contribute and do good work vs. employees who do just what is required.
  • Employees care about their teammates and the company vs. employees who feel that it is just another job.
  • Employees who want the company to succeed vs. employees who really don’t give a damn.
  • Employees who come to work everyday vs. employees who are here today, but uncertain about tomorrow.

These lists of character traits were developed by managers working in a toxic environment and struggling to understand the truth of Dr. Deming’s famous 14 points: Drive out fear.  To do so, they decided to ask, “If there were no fear, what would there be?” Their answer: “Trust!” 

The list describes employees who can be trusted, or who exhibit trustworthy behaviors. The list on the right describes employees who can’t be trusted – those exhibiting untrustworthy behaviors.  The “aha” moment in this exercise came when this group of managers realized that only about 5% of thier workforce fit into the latter category.  Subsequently, they also realized that their policies, practices and procedures were written for the 5%. To correct this problem, they embarked on a year-long process of improving their knowledge and structures while also offering self improvement options to employees in order to increase trust and eliminate fear. 

In this real-life example, a company moved from an authority-driven, Industrial Age management style to one that is talent-driven; one that relies on Human, Social and Intellectual Capital to drive the business forward.  In today’s Knowledge Age, trust is essential because people choose to (or not to) share their knowledge!  Leaders and managers are still responsible for the environment (system), but the difference is in how they approach tasks: allowing people to be innovative, self-directed and responsible. In the Culture of Engagement that I envision, individual contributions are valued, employees are engaged, and teams are capable of performing at high levels.  

One of my goals in working with clients is to eliminate blaming and to identify the barriers that prevent them from capitalizing on talent and knowledge.  One of the first challenges in that process is helping leaders understand that they don’t implement change – they facilitate it. As we know from Dr. Deming, leaders and managers are responsible for improving the system and unfortunately, bad systems get the best people everytime.  Now that you know what kind of people are needed for top performance, ask yourself: Do our employees work for our company? Or, do they just show up?

Contact Kristine Ranger at 517-974-5697 or kristine@knowledgenavigators.com