Organizational structure was set up over a century ago and remained mostly unchanged, since the beginning of the industrial age. Those that paid for the business had all the say in the business. They, and their advisors, found the funding, decided on the current and future conditions and direction of the company, selected the product, suppliers, target market and even who they would compete against. The business hierarchy was structured with decisions makers at the top, workers doing what they were told to do at the bottom and managers, in the middle, managing of the productivity of the workers.
Those at the top were compensated in numerous ways, salary, dividends, shares, and other perks. Motivation came from what they could create, how much money they could create for the business, their shareholders, and themselves, as a result of the overall success of the company.
The workers, at the bottom, have mostly been in a transactional relationship over this time. Work 40 hours – get paid for 40 hours. Motivation came from ensuring they had enough hours to make enough money to pay their bills and maybe have enough left over for a vacation. This meant they had to keep their job or find another similar or better job. They did not share in the creation of the growth of the company and only celebrated the company’s successes when it meant they were also celebrated with additional rewards. Motivation to create more only came with additional pay, recognition, or rewards. Many have been motivated with the hopes of a promotion, but that was only possible if a position was available.
It would be wrong to assume that a business should not focus on making money. After all, a company that never makes a profit is either a not-for-profit or it is a very expensive hobby. Ensuring there is a valuable product or service and there is a market for what the company sells is a fundamental start. Having marketing that tells the market that we have what they need, is imperative. Knowing who the company is competing against and how they will differentiate themselves will help create a larger market share. But to be able to stay on top all the new change in the business environment, it is important to make transformational change a focus within the business, and this takes transformational leadership.
Hiring People vs Hiring the ‘Right Fit’
There is a saying that I heard some years ago. I don’t know where it came from but I like to share it when working with the challenges and brilliance of people, and I’m paraphrasing…
“The greatest thing about working with people, is the people. The worst thing, is the people.”
We humans are incredibly productive, creative, insightful, loving, helpful, intelligent, and caring creatures. We can also be the antithesis of all these adjectives as well. As a business owner, how do we get the best contribution out of the best people?
There are a few things that we need to have to create a culture that people want to be a part of. A place where they want to show up every day and take pride in what they do each hour.
Hiring employees is a large body of work: From HR policies, laws & regulations to process, values, & culture. I’m not going to tell you specifically how to hire your people, but I will share some important things to have in place to get the ‘right fit’ in your company. Let’s look at two comparisons: Money vs Autonomy, and Management vs Leadership.
Money vs Autonomy
For over two decades, Danial Pink has been writing and speaking about the best way to motivate people. He felt that money worked well to create better performance for work that required a mechanical skill, but for cognitive work, people performed less well when motivated only by money. Some work required different types of rewards, like “Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose”. (Daniel Pink Video) Simply offering a transactional reward is not enough to motivate our best people to do work that requires additional skills, like social interaction, innovation, and problem solving.
People that feel good about the work they produce, are happier at doing the work. When people are happier to do something, they are more likely to do it well. This is the same for the employees’ relationships with other people (like other employees, management, and clients). If they feel good about how they contribute to any interaction, they are more likely to interact well with others.
Neither of these types of skills are performed better because of money. Quality does not come from a worker that hates being at their job, hates the activities of their work, or hates the people they work with. Even mild disdain can have a negative impact on the company’s delivery of their product or service. The reward for employees that enjoy being a part of the company is a type of self-satisfaction. It is a reward that comes from within, not from payroll.
Imagine having an entire company filled with people that feel satisfied with their daily activities and perform simply because they love to do this work. Look for people that are driven by what else they can contribute and create a work place where people have permission to innovate and look for new ways to do things, have autonomy to show up differently, act in their passion, and work to master their skills. With this type of team, you will have people that will drive competitiveness from within, by having the ability to identify things that need to change before you, as the owner, could.
A Side Note – Compensation is required for people to feel they are not struggling. If the company does not pay enough for great employees to have a comfortable life without struggle, it is hard to get people to not bring that struggle to work with them.
Management vs Leadership
As I mentioned earlier, management has a specific role within a company. They are responsible to manage the productivity of the workers and the resources that support operations. This is very different than the responsibilities of a leader, because leaders are not just senior managers, they can be any person inside or outside the business that affects their followers to take action in specific ways by sharing their vision.
We have been applying the term ‘leader’ to any person in a role that has subordinates, whether they would follow the person or not. John C. Maxwell, in his teachings of the 5 Levels of Leadership, refers to this as the “lowest level of leadership” or “positional leadership”. We have all experienced a job where there was a micro-manager in the business that seemed incompetent. I can remember one, where people would point out (behind his back) that he was always in the way and spent too much time telling us exactly what we already knew about our own jobs. “What was he getting paid for?” was our question.
The challenge with assuming that our companies only have leaders in management positions is that we have to actually have leaders to put into those positions. This means we have to be able to foster leadership long before our employees are ready for our management roles. Having a company full of leaders allows us, as owners, to let go of some of our own responsibilities and then be able to take on even bigger opportunities, with more possibilities for everyone.
Look for people that step up before they are asked. People with a vision for the work, the market, the clients, the business, and/or themselves. People that other people comment on, look up to, or nominate for special projects. People that create vision that they or others act on.
If you want a transformative business, where you are not the only person looking for changing trends in the industry or market, you need to fill your business with transformational leaders. People at all levels of your business that are driven by, and excited for, the opportunity to be more than a simple employee.