You have to start with rethinking your philosophical perspective. Re-think business relationships and business operations. It begins with a new view of each individual involved in your business operations, which is that each individual has to be viewed as you. Whenever you look at an individual you have to see yourself. It is similar to ‘walking in another’s shoes.’ When you can see each individual as yourself, suddenly their views, their feelings, their aspirations, and their challenges become your views, your feelings, your aspirations, and your challenges. In other words, all that is important to them becomes important to you.
It is not so much about feeling their pain and solving their challenges for them. Viewing each individual as yourself allows you to respect them as individuals, and value their goals for their lives as much as you value your own. When you begin with this premise that each individual involved in your business deserves just as much respect as you do, then each act within which you become engaged will be in their best interest as well as your own. The core suggestion is that executives and managers must truly come to believe that the feelings, thoughts, desires and goals of employees are just as important as their own. Then every aspect of the organization needs to be restructured to reflect your philosophy of equality, which is not mutually exclusive to bottom-line achievements.
The tool for achieving this philosophy of equality is to create a partnership in thought and organizational structure. In a partnership, each partner is equal to the other (or should be) and they work together toward achieving mutually agree upon goals and objectives. This can be done without having to turn over company shares or profit sharing to employees.
Effects: When employees feel a sense of equality and perceive a partnership it gives them permission to take on a sense of responsibility and participate fully in ensuring that organizational goals are achieved.
Eradicate all bosses. The concept of 'no more bosses' quite simply means removing the sense that there is a difference between executives or managers and employees. It suggests getting rid of the "I am more important than you thinking of managers and the, perceived or real, elevated status of executives. Perception is everything! You do this by eliminating certain titles with inherently negative connotations: Bosses - Controls, dominates, exercises authority. (Dictionary.com) Manager - a person who has control.
Nobody likes to be controlled or dominated. How can anyone feel a part of something when there is an inherent sense of being controlled or dominated. Whether it is intended or not this sense is communicated in organizational titles alone. All supervisory staff should be called leaders and their number one job should be to develop self-leaders.
Effects: Employees feel a sense of self-determination. They are likely to spend less time fighting 'being controlled' and more time on following the lead or determining how to reach goals for themselves.
Share The Vision. Their are some organizations that do share the vision currently. However, it is essential to share it in a way that communicates a sense of partnership, participation and value (as outlined in the book cited). The vision must be communicated with passion and conviction. A picture must be painted and employees drawn into its beauty. When you are communicating the vision you have to answer the question in employees mind of "Why should we care?" You have to communicate the value that employees bring to the table.
Keep in mind the story of Everybody, Somebody, Nobody, and Anybody. You have to tie in and show employees their roles in creating the vision otherwise they will perceive that they have no individual responsibility in making it happen.
Effects: Sharing the vision in this way does several things: 1. It creates buy-in for the vision. They will believe in what you are trying to accomplish. 2. Because they believe, they will want to join in. Why? Because everybody likes to feel a part of something special and exciting. When they feel that excitement it helps to motivate them to action. 3. It suggests inclusiveness. Communicating their value to the achievement of the vision will help them to feel a part of the vision and perceive their value in realizing the vision. This gives employees permission to own it and work toward it as partners in making it happen. Remember though, it is a systems approach. All aspects of the organization must continue to communicate partnership and participation or the effects of the vision sharing will fizzle.
Operationalize the strategic objectives. Create what I call, 'Individual Work Plans.' These work plans need to have several essential components.
- List all work functions as measurable work objectives requiring 95% to 98% accuracy. (Never require 100% accuracy) Nobody is perfect and employees will perceive 100% as impossible to reach and not try. If you set it to 95%, they will attempt to surpass it. (See materials for chapter 13 on how to release consistent non-performers.)
- Ensure that leaders and employees create these plans together. It creates participation, communicates a partnership, and engenders accountability.
- Ensure that work function objectives tie in directly to achieving the strategic objectives. Employees must see how their efforts tie into the bigger picture. It solidifies the sense of value communicated in the vision session.
- Ensure that targets are not overwhelming. It is important that targets are achievable. When people feel that targets are too difficult or impossible, they will not attempt to achieve them. When individuals reach targets that are reasonable, they themselves would choose to try for higher targets, which is a result of their pride and excitement about achieving earlier targets.
Each work plan would represent the employee's agreement of contribution in the partnership. It would require them to sign the document as their commitment to the partnership which is also why it is important for them to be a part of the process of creating the work plan. (The employer has one--a document of commitment to the partnership--too.)
Effects: A Individual Work Plan clearly outlines the employees responsibility with work expectations. It leaves no room for doubt in what is expected of them. It gives them specific targets that clearly demonstrates their role and contribution to the overall departmental or organizational objectives. It defines their end of the partnership agreement in a way that communicates responsibility, accountability, trust, and belief in their abilities.
Set employees up for success! Ensure that employees have the right systems, appropriate structures, conducive processes, and appropriate training to be able to accomplish their work objectives successfully. For example, if they have a work objective of entering 10 data sheets of info into a system per hour, ensure that they don't have a computer system that moves too slowly to achieve the objective. Ensure that training is done properly. (This is 'a whole nother' ballgame of a discussion. See book cited.)
Effects: Setting up employees for success communicates that you are a fair, caring, and a supportive leader. (You are no longer a boss or manager.) If you did not make sure that the processes needed for achieving work objectives make sense, it would communicate that you do not care about their ability to succeed. It would also communicate that you do not care about them as an individual and their level of frustration with inefficient processes. If employees perceive a lack of caring on the part of their leaders, no other positive action will have merit.
Celebrate milestones! Need I say more? Yes, the how is important. Note: ensure that while you celebrate achievements, non achievers are to be supported and communicated to in a certain way. (See book cited.)
Individuals can be recognized for outstanding achievements, but all effort should be made not to put any one employee 'on the spot.' In fact, all employees should be made to feel as if their efforts are appreciated regardless of their performance thus far. This will serve to encourage better performance as opposed to causing discouragement and the desire to give up.
Effects: Celebrating milestones is like celebrating employees: Now that employees feel a part of the vision and understand their role in getting there (through the work plans) when you celebrate they perceive it to be a celebration of themselves and their contributions. To create full effects from celebrations, I cannot stress enough that it must be done in a way that is still supportive of non-achievers (which is outlined specifically in the book cited).
WIIFM - What's In it for me? This is a major step in this process and involves a radical component. Get rid of performance reviews in their traditional sense. Call it the "Partnership Review Session." This is the session where both partners get to review their individual goals and progress. It involves self-reviews and the leader as a facilitator with the role of 'how can I make your job easier.' It involves a particular communication style and session structure. It includes a review of the "Individual Development Plan" which is a document completed by the employee at the beginning of the partnership and is the employer's commitment in the partnership. (See materials and full discussion in Chapter 8--attached.)
The Individual Development Plan outlines the employees goals for their work lives. It lists what their development objectives are and milestones they would like to reach within the organization. Employers (representative) sign the ID plan indicating their commitment to help the employee in their development efforts and represents their end of the partnership.
This is such an essential component in this New Consciousness approach that the complete chapter outlining this step is included in the materials below.
If employers would try this approach to the ex-performance review process, they would be amazed at the results because this new process respects employees' sovereign nature and motivates them to become self-leaders and allows them to be accountable and live up to their end of the partnership.
Effects: Allowing employees to perceive that their sovereign nature is respected is essential in this approach. You cannot communicate a sense of equality or partnership without respecting their sovereign nature. Traditional performance reviews totally goes against an individual's sovereign nature. Using the approach of a facilitator in the way outlined in the material sited would accomplish the objective of having a review of work objectives while maintaining respect for the individual. Additionally, having employees complete individual development plans demonstrates executives' sense of caring about them as well as ensures that employees are on purpose, are responsible for and are focused on their own development, which benefits both themselves and the organization.
Create a culture of partnership. This is an important aspect of the approach that will help to solidify a sense of equality. Besides all of the steps above determining whether or not this is achieved, the communication style and practices used by leaders will go a long way in helping to create a continuous perception of equality and thus a culture of equality. While it is listed lastly, it is essential to employ a conducive communication style and habit throughout the process of implementation.
- Every act by 'management' (now leaders) has meaning and communicates a message. Employees are in a continuous mode of interpretation. Their perception of a message is always colored by their beliefs about executives and management.
- All communications within an organization are perceived by employees to either be in their best interest or not in their best interest. If employees generally believe that executives respect them and have their best interest at heart, they will tend to perceive management's communications positively. On the other hand, if they believe that executives do not respect them or have their best interest at heart, they will tend to perceive communications negatively and can even view positive communications or positive behavior negatively. (See book cited to read more about how you can communicate with respect and create a culture of partnership.)
- Example: The subject of a memo should never be a surprise to employees. In a partnership, both partners should be aware of changes and should actually be a part of creating new policies and procedures. While a formal memo needs to be disseminated it should never take employees by surprise.
- It is essential to the partnership to cultivate self-leadership. This will allow for accountability and communicates a respect for an individual's sovereign nature. Individuals not wanting to be self-leaders should be encouraged to 'move on.' 'The how' is extremely important to the culture of respect and partnership. (see book cited for details on how this can be done in a way that maintains the perception of "I have your best interest at heart.')
"Because culture is not based on written down rules, employees’ perceptions become very important in shaping culture. If the message being continuously communicated is that ‘we value employees and see them as equal, we respect employees in their ability to be self-leaders,’ this is what will shape your culture. When you share your company’s vision with employees and show them how they can help you achieve it, this communicates a partnership. When you develop individual work plans to show employees their role in achieving company objectives, this communicates responsibility. When you ask employees for their opinions on strategies and direction, this communicates trust. When you ask employees what their personal work goals are, this communicates concern for their lives and their future. When you celebrate employee achievements, this communicates appreciation and gratefulness. When these messages are continuously being communicated in your every organizational action, a conducive and positive work culture will result. It will evolve into a positive work culture because of what employees will perceive to be the truth about executives, management, and the company as a whole." A Different Path, A Different Result: By Cathy Archer
See chapter 10 in the materials for discussion on changing corporate cultures.
Can you imagine an organization where individuals feel that they are in a partnership, that they are allowed to fully participate, that their views and contributions are respected, that they have a sense of freedom to be sovereign beings, that they can make meaningful contributions and experience fulfillment at work? How about imagining an organization where your strategic objectives are tied to the operations, where employees are self-leaders and accountable for their actions, where all work is measurable, where bottom-line growth is a reality and not a dream, where the work culture is progressive and supportive of productivity and achievement? If you can imagine these things, that's the practical impact! This approach and bottom-line growth are mutually inclusive!
Experimenting with any of the steps will see some positive changes. However, changes cannot be maintained without all of the components working together.
While a number of these steps are not new, there are major components that represent a new approach which are essential to making this approach work. The key is the underlying philosophy and approach of equality. The steps outlined show how the goal of equality can be achieved within the organizational and work operations context. They all work together to support and make happen the underlying goal—that is to communicate equality and allow individuals to work as sovereign beings in a true partnership. Perception is everything. If you can succeed in creating the perception that employees are equal to executives in importance and put a supporting operational structure in place, you will succeed in creating self-leaders who are internally motivated to achieve organizational objectives and are accountable for their actions.