Here at Corporate Edge, we exist to facilitate the achievement of human potential. This is our purpose, what we all strive towards, the very fabric that binds us together.
Your purpose is not just a string of words that outlines a high-level organisation-wide goal. It is the very foundation that brings together people, ideas, innovation and thought. It is through not just the articulation of your purpose, but the implementation and in-house strategies that bring this to life. This is where the true magic happens, creating the secret ingredient of a thriving company.
Studies have confirmed that for work involving cognitive or creative skills, financial rewards don’t inspire motivation and performance. According to former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly,
“it takes several mutually reinforcing elements to create an environment that unleashes the kind of human magic necessary for a company purpose to take roots and flourish.”
How can a unique purpose be harnessed to facilitate true achievement by unleashing your people power?
Inspiration and motivation can be tied back to a sense of inclusion in something great, that is bigger than the individual. Humans want to feel like they are making a difference through their contributions, like they are needed, seen and appreciated.
When the team connects personal aspirations to the greater purpose of the organisation, they become inspired as it gives meaning to the ‘job’ they are doing. It becomes less about the work, and more about the why. This link makes each employee feel personally invested in the company’s purpose, leading to high performance individuals, teams and subsequently organisations.
Linking individual drive to the company purpose is what allows it to thrive and live through every single team member. This is one of the most crucial roles as a leader at any level.
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, “psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes”.
This is one of the key factors in unleashing your people power.
Psychological safety is critical to team success and provides each team member with confidence that no one on the team will judge, embarrass or punish anyone for admitting a mistake, showing vulnerability, asking a question or offering a new idea.
Psychological safety gives an employee the confidence to walk into work every day and tackle the tasks ahead of them with ease, agility and support. It is a mindset that aids productivity, engagement, creativity and knowledge sharing.
It is these behaviours that lead to innovative thoughts, ideas and industry breakthroughs through sensible risk taking.
In Amy Edmondson’s 1999 study on psychological safety, her original purpose was to investigate high performing medical teams and whether they made more or less mistakes than low performing medical teams (source). Conflicting with her original hypothesis, Edmondson concluded that high performing medical teams reported more mistakes than the low performance teams. Analysing her data, she found that these teams were characterised by high levels of psychological safety, leading to individuals being more willing to report their errors to their superiors.
It may be counter-intuitive that a high performing team reports more errors, but it is this feeling of safety and non-judgement that allows them to make the mistakes, resulting in more innovative and forward-thinking individuals for the ultimate success of your organisation.
We are all unique human beings. Monotonous, micro-managed work kills creativity in the workplace. It squashes innovation and completely removes any opportunity of freedom to work differently.
Another key factor in unlocking your people’s potential is autonomy. No one likes being told what to do or how to do it. Autonomy creates agile ways of working, quicker decision-making and a sense of purpose that is reverberated throughout the team.
Flexibility has become a new priority for individuals, as working from home has afforded them a taste of what it’s like to work completely autonomously. Back to office plans and hybrid ways of working are just the start, as people become accustomed to what they really seek in a career or new job opportunity.
Autonomy doesn’t exist on its own though. It can only be successful if the organisation has a strong purpose, accountability and clarity about responsibilities when it comes to decision-making. It’s also dependent on the individual, their level of experience and the nature of their work. For example, a new team member will need onboarding support and more guidance compared to that of a highly experienced employee.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that human connection is key to human potential. Meaningful human connection establishes an individual as just that, an individual. Not just a number or a nameless face walking through the office. Authentic connections start with treating and valuing others as individuals and equals, which establishes trust and a sense of belonging, which is the heart of diversity and inclusion. Human connection fosters vulnerability. Vulnerability leads to feeling seen, and to be seen, it is a fundamental human need.
With most of the working population is now operating in a hybrid way of working, encouraging and maintaining genuine human connection is more important now than it has ever been. If that’s one positive to come from the pandemic, then we’ll take it!
As a leader, this is your invitation to encourage and facilitate new ways to connect remotely with all team members. You can do this by:
- Digital coffee or ‘water-cooler’ breaks
- Organise no-agenda meetings with direct reports to just connect on a human level without tasks or problems taking precedence
- Host an end of week happy hour with conversation prompts for all to share and get involved
- Have mid-morning check-ins with the team
In an organisation, all of these factors integrate and flow seamlessly into one another. They’re importance isn’t shadowed by another, instead they all hold significance and contribute equally to unlock your people power.