A lot of effort, dollars and leadership attention expended on improving organisational capability is often targeted at technology and process enhancements. That’s not a bad thing per se. Technology can provide powerful advancements in how we do the work; for example, it’s much easier to communicate by sending e-mails today than by using smoke signals or drumbeats as my ancestors did. And it’s less painful to monitor and manage organisational finances with accounting or ERP software than with an abacus.
Also, improved processes are just as beneficial as good technology in helping us achieve our organisational goals.
However, as you devote time and resources to improving your technology and processes, remember that those things are just ‘enablers’ — they enable us to get the work done in a slick way; but processes and technology, by themselves, won’t deliver lasting organisational success.
It’s a bit like when you go to enjoy a fantastic meal in a restaurant. Things happen in the kitchen to create that meal. The chef uses kitchen tools that are like the tool that technology is to us. And s/he follows a recipe that is akin to our business processes.
You or I could walk into that kitchen, pick up the same tools and follow the same recipe. But it doesn’t mean our cooking will come out like Mario Batali’s or Nigella Lawson’s, does it?
Of course not.
Because the critical success factor in creating the wonderful meal is the chef. And it’s exactly the same with any organisation; your people are the most critical factor for your organisational success — they are the chefs in your ‘organisational kitchen’.
A chef is more likely to conjure up a wonderful meal when s/he is ‘in the groove’ and feeling motivated to accomplish something magnificent. It’s exactly the same with your people.
Motivation is one of the key driving forces behind human behaviour, whether it is through rewards and incentives, fear of losing the job or any medium in-between. Whatever you choose to do, it is important to remember that for any organisation to savour the sweet nectar of magnificent success, its people must be inspired and energised to reach for a level of capability and performance that is well beyond average. Every individual in your organisation has this potential.
Employees are more likely to realise and harness their potential when they feel their manager believes in them.
If you’re a leader/manager and you don’t believe in your staff, … well, that sometimes happens. Of course, you must ensure you’ve done your utmost to help them ‘find their groove’ — you’ve given them reasonable time, encouragement and guidance; you’ve tried to help them light their fire; and you’ve supported them adequately and effectively.
If after all this, you still have no belief in them, then, perhaps, it’s more effective to help them find their destiny elsewhere.
But if you know in your heart that you haven’t done your bit to get the best out of them, then the least you could do is to start making them feel you believe in them — even if their current performance doesn’t reflect their true potential.
In doing this, you’ll be helping them expand their own self-belief, and drawing out the optimum contribution they can make to your team, the wider organisation and your own leadership success.
And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll be helping them discover the diamond version of themselves. The more the diamond sparkles in each of your people, the more the collective diamond sparkles in the organisation.
We should never forget that organisations are about people first and foremost. It’s people that create performance, good or bad. They may be aided by technology, slick processes and other enablers, but people are the fundamental creators or destroyers of performance success.
PS: I shared more about this theme in my opening keynote speech at the Procurious Big Ideas Summit – watch a clip here.