Bring your brain to work day

I completed a staff survey partly based on the Gallup Q12, I had to answer questions on a scale, giving numbers. No text, just numbers.

I thought I would do my own staff survey so I asked some friends why they are working where they are, and this is what they told me.

  • “it’s convenient”
  • “if I walked out I wouldn’t get benefits, I half hope I get made redundant so I can”
  • “keeps the wolf from door, and puts food on my kids plate”

These people don’t appear to be that engaged with their jobs do they?

And my absolute favourite…

  • “I work here because I have no ambition. If you’re happy to do what you’re told, I think it’s a great place to work. I’ve worked here so long I’m past caring.”

True words again, not cherry picked and not spoken ruefully or sadly. All said matter of factly and without self-pity. Just the way things are.

This survey by Gallup, shows 89% of staff are not engaged at work, they can’t be bothered that much. Were these people recruited like this? Unlikely they’d be appointed surely?

Look! It’s Zombie Deming!

“Managers talk about getting rid of deadwood, but there are only two possible explanations of why the dead wood exists: 1) You hired deadwood in the first place, or, 2) you hired live wood, and then you killed it.”

Most organisations concentrate on recruiting, training, developing and promoting the right staff as the way to succeed. They think that because they believe staff, not the system, are responsible for performance. But look at the result, by concentrating on staff they turn them into dead wood. Things get worse. Of course it would, concentrating on staff you are making them responsible for something they can’t control, the performance of the system they work in. They don’t thrive, they turn against the organisation.

The systems thinking lesson

No survey is needed. You could just stand up and survey your staff. Literally. Look at them. Talk to them. If you can really deal with people you’d go up and talk to them. If you can’t then the sort of organisation that need a staff survey is probably the sort of organisation that can’t effectively deal with the results of a staff survey.

And whatever you do, if you try and improve staff in order to improve performance, you’ll make things worse. Employee engagement is not a cause of good performance, it is an effect. Good teams come from good work. Good staff from good systems. Once you give someone a good job to do, they will do a good job, it creates a positive feedback cycle, but a bad system will defeat a good person every time. No mount of Jar Jar Binks away days will work.

If you go to the trouble of recruiting good staff you need to know, the evidence is in, team building kills good staff.

This entry was posted in all wrong, command and control, leadership, psychology, systems thinking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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