I was working with a senior leader in an organisation in Germany recently and his sense was that we are almost on another ‘tipping point’. He keeps hiring great people, but most of his efforts to create synergies and really get the best of his people seem to fail. He senses that there must be a ‘better way’ to lead people, and to get results.
I have to agree with him. I see so often that groups of people are thrust together in teams that almost bring out the ‘worst’ in each other. They find ways not to collaborate. They act defensively and avoid commitment or creativity. Does this sound somewhat familiar?
And yet, each person was a high quality, high performing individual.
What would happen, I asked him, if they would collaborate? If they would share ideas and be innovative and creative? If they would take responsibility for themselves and others?
His answer: I would finally be running a business.
When our organisations set up processes and structures which enhance fear, disempowerment and complexity, or bring in incentive schemes which actively work against the greater mission of the organisation (but serve its individual units), then individuals are not encouraged to fully and openly participate. My experience is that employees love the opportunity to give their best and be recognised and rewarded for it.
There are some very simple steps to creating the situation where such collaboration and creativity are the norm:
• Create an environment where each of the sub-groups of your business each, in their own way, serve the company’s greater mission.
• Have thoughtful engagement with all employees which reinforces the values and purpose of the organisation. Make employees feel valued, trusted and offer them some level of certainty (as much as you can).
• Enact policies that support these elements. Remove as many ‘old policies’ of control and disempowerment as you can, and consider how any new process or policy serves your true organisational purpose.
What are you doing as a leader which helps to really unlock the potential of your employees? What is the one thing you can do right now to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation in your business?