There seems to be something in organisations today that lowers the creativity of people, something that almost sucks the positive and latent abilities out of them. The cause? Today’s management processes that drive discipline, economy, rationality and order, and place little or no value on originality, passion, non-conformity and potential.
Consultant company Tower Perrin conducted a survey of over 86,000 employees in 7 countries, working in large and small organisations. Using a nine-point index to measure how engaged employees felt in their work, these workers were asked how strongly they agreed (or otherwise) with the following statements:
The score was calculated for each person responding, measuring the extent to which that person was (in their words) “highly engaged, “moderately engaged” or “disengaged” at work.
Their conclusion? “The vast majority of employees across all levels in an organisation are less than fully engaged“
The percentage all round the world who were “fully engaged”? 14%
The percentage who were “disengaged”? 24%
The rest were in the middle.
This survey showed that around 85% of people who replied were less than fully engaged, giving less of themselves than they could have done. What is the driving force behind the people who are fully engaged, creating a company that is appealing to everyone who wants to work there?
Studies have shown that capabilities that contribute to competitive success can be put into a hierarchy. It starts with the ability to obey, meaning taking direction and following rules, which is a baseline starting position. Next comes diligence, people who are well-organised and conscientious.
After that is knowledge and intellect. These are smart people who are eager to improve skills and develop themselves. Next in line is initiative. These people don’t need to wait to be told, they seek out challenges and look for new ways to add value.
Further up is creativity. These people are inquisitive and driven. They have eagerness of spirit and high need for asking deeper questions than most.
At the top lies passion. This turns intent into accomplishment. These people climb over obstacles and they refuse to give up. E.M. Forster wrote “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested”.
Today, obedience, diligence and expertise can be regarded as the basic norm and is expected in organisations. In today’s creative economy, we need to encourage people to go to the higher ground. We must encourage people to “think different”, as Steve Jobs so eloquently put it.
So ask yourself: What are the obstacles that stand in the way of people using initiative, creativity and passion?
Is it your managerial processes? Are your procedures so antiquated (pre-2007) that they stifle drive and out-of-the-box thinking?
What is interesting is that these top qualities we want to encourage in people are the precise capabilities that are least manageable!
Getting more out of people means managing them less, not more. It means less micro-managing, less checking up on people and less time making sure they are aligned with corporate procedures. Encouraging people to take initiatives helps foster the climate of creativity. This in turn develops the passion and the innate drive that is stifled in most people because of conformity to rigid rules and hierarchy.
By creating the kind of company that fosters these powerful competencies in people, we encourage people to bring their passion to work, and identify specific skills that may have been hidden beneath the surface before. Allow people to show these competencies and you encourage them to share their creativity and passion. And you create a company culture that shines above the competition.
Head of Training
Originally published: 23 July, 2012