releasing Prometheus and unchaining business
Everyone wants to be part of something they feel inspired by. If you look at the research, people are more motivated when their jobs provide intrinsic value for them, because they empower their growth to become who they really are. Self actualisation, as Maslow would put it, is more important than money (beyond a threshold level). Understanding this turns modern ideas of mindfulness and purpose in business, into a strategic imperative. This becomes not just a tactic to elicit greater motivation from employees to achieve the businesses aims, but BECOMES one of those aims, as something good in itself.
But are you, or your employees really ready for such a strategy. This idea of a job being a way for people to grow into who they really are, relies on them having a vision of what this is. It also means striving for this growth while being honest about the difficulties that they face in their lives as they are. This is what Peter Senge calls, in The Fifth Discipline, Personal Mastery. It is one of the four practices he describes, which organisations, your organisation, needs to nurture in its people. That is because without it, you cannot learn to adapt, survive and thrive in this increasingly changing world.
Senge talks about people who practice personal mastery as crafts people, who create their lives as works of art. May be we all start life like that as children, but then grow up and forget our dreams and who we really should be. Senge suggests that a more accurate description is not grown ups, but give ups. Perhaps that is why, those of us who expected a job for life in a moral contract, with a life long employer, find millennials and generation X employees, who have portfolio careers, difficult to understand and manage.
What is important about this quality in our people is the proactive nature of their engagement, which means they don't just follow the rules but are prepared to change them, if that means achieving theirs, and your aims. This is crucial where the environment your business needs survive in, is changing rapidly, while your rules and norms often change at a glacial pace by comparison.
But while you may acknowledge that this proactive engagement is crucial, are you really ready as a business to take this step and unleash the promethean forces involved. Are you ready to loose the chains of process and procedures, and accept that truly committed and engaged employees, may want to forge new ones? Is that the challenge of integrating millennial and generation X employees into our businesses, or as I suspect - was it ever thus. There have always been these misfits who have been awkward to manage?
In this video I explore Senge's Practice of personal mastery by bringing William Blake and Gothic Cathedrals into thinking about what nurturing this practice could mean for your business.