The Foundation of True Organisation and Employee Alignment is Self-Awareness
As a society, we must each contribute to reducing the hidden costs of ignorance and struggle against complacency and mediocrity. By leading ourselves and guiding others in their search for becoming better individuals and developing more productive careers — as well as adults seeking meaningful employment — our efforts can significantly cut back the waste in time and money for both ourselves and the organisations of which we become part. But the endeavour is not for the weak in spirit, as it will require time, intelligence, persistence, commitment, and the right vehicles.
However, it would be naïve not to consider the potential barriers to success when designing future-proof organisations in order to boost the success of — and align with — our personal and organisational efforts. Therefore, it makes sense to identify these barriers as potential hurdles and then develop new strategies to mitigate the risks involved. These new approaches not only involve making things right, but also confirm that there is indeed a much better way to succeed and that we want the best for every stakeholder without exception. Among the potential barriers are the following factors.
Aligning Shareholder Philosophy
I do not know of any explicit shareholder philosophy based on mediocre performance expectations. After all, the main reason people invest in a business is to obtain maximum returns on their invested capital. Further, I am not aware of any explicit shareholder approach that wishes ill on other stakeholders and focuses instead solely on personal financial outcomes.
Investors (people) like to talk about their investments and the choices they make in terms of growing their capital. In the majority of cases, especially in the for-profit organisations, investors, without exception, seek new ways to increase profits and improve margins. They keep a close eye on how management executes a strategy to maximise returns.
Although the purpose of the board and management team is to safeguard the interests of investors, shareholders also expect them to respect certain operational ethics. For example, shareholders and boards cannot explicitly expect the management team to exploit the workforce for their own gains without respecting the right of each employee to fulfil the individual’s potential.
In addition, we all know that the key to personal fulfilment is self-awareness, and self-awareness leads to more personal commitment, drive, action, and performance. Consequently, it should be a no-brainer for management teams to empower that process within their organisations. After all, if management teams want to deliver the promise they make to shareholders, why wouldn’t they want to increase their chances of success through a workforce that is 100% committed and motivated. Why would they even think otherwise?
Bottom line: Executive teams follow board members’ direction and will not develop new strategies that could potentially conflict with shareholders’ current investment philosophy. So it is very critical that there is explicit and implicit alignment with current shareholders, board members, and management — and management’s key focus need only be guarding the interest of all stakeholders, not only shareholders or themselves.
Aligning Management Accountability
With management under constant scrutiny by the board, having a specific mandate from shareholders to manage the operations of their investment with optimum efficiency, it is common sense for the organisation’s leadership to continuously seek productivity gains. By default, the expectation for the management team should be that they serve all stakeholders (shareholders, management, employees, clients, suppliers, and so on) and fulfil their accountability by facilitating a value generation for all. So it makes perfect sense to link management’s key role to deliver returns while safeguarding the interest of all stakeholders with management’s ability to be as transparent as possible.
Bottom line: Management teams should support innovative and transparent approaches to maximise returns for all stakeholders, and they should also be directly accountable for implementing such systems.
Aligning Employees’ Purpose
The key purpose of any employee in working for any type of organisation should be to generate value for all stakeholders. Although the definition of “value” may differ by entity, the key purpose remains the same.
Employees need to understand that self-actualisation, self-fulfillment, self-awareness, happiness — whatever one considers to be an optimal state — has benefits that impact all aspects, not only of one’s own life, but also those with whom we interact, be it our family, co-workers, friends, employers, and the community at large.
Bottom line: Self-awareness and personal empowerment should be a priority for all employees, as they form the foundation from which they can move forward on the path to making life-affirming decisions. Those decisions not only affect them but also many other stakeholders with whom they interact.
Barriers Are Not Insurmountable
Employers — and other organisational entities — have a strong motivation to ensure that their employees have the opportunities to advance along their personal development path. In the end, employee growth can only serve to support the company’s strategic goals, as long as they are compatible. In an article of the Gallup Business Journal (Susan Sorenson, “Employee Engagement Drives Growth,” June 20, 2013) Gallup’s research showed that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share and recovered from the 2008 recession at a faster rate. Businesses with a critical mass of engaged employees outperformed their competition.
Acknowledging the genuine hurdles faced on both an individual and organisational level, the human condition will strive upward and forward. Cooperation among people and organisations — whether community, job, or government-related — can address the issues, given time, resources, and the right tools. In this day and age, transparency empowered by technology is one of those tools that can support the path to true empowerment, leadership, and self-awareness.