It must be recognized that the weight of organisational context conditions the performance of individuals, of teams, and of their managers. The organisational environment and the postures of managers are essential in providing individuals capable of providing the best of themselves yet with the ability to break away from everyday conditioning and create pro-innovation environments. It is, in fact, necessary to not rush headlong in and blame individual abilities instead of correcting organisational brakes. In any organisation you are likely to come across unfulfilled and demotivated employees who become extremely inventive and productive as soon as you take them out of the organisation place them in a different context even with people that they do not even know!
In one of the seminars I’ve recently had the pleasure of organizing on Managerial Innovation (Management 3.0), I rubbed shoulders with fulfilled executives who have the skill sets and mindset required to instil energy in the groups and individuals they meet after a few short hours. Groups are created and evolve under the influence of a propitious environment. I asked myself the following question: Do these people act this way in their own organisation? Feedback was immediate, as I received just then a message at the end of the seminar from one of the participants in response to my wishes of a week full of motivation and inspiration:
His reply :
“Motivation and inspiration … not to be found where I am now
I’m fed up!
I can’t stand the idiocy of people in this business anymore
What am I doing with this morning
I can’t help but compare it with those three days of seminar
It’s like having a trip back in time”
This answer shows and demonstrates the wasted potential of unfulfilled employees, and how this waste reflects a very worrying organisational malaise or unwellness. The origins of this ‘discomfort’ are many, but allow me to share with you a qualitative analysis based on ‘verbatims’ collected from people I meet in the seminars I organise. Despite expressing satisfaction with the different workshops and experiences, participants often say: “Why don’t our managers attend these seminars?” “No one doubts their technical skills, but it would be nonsense for managers to continue managing us as they currently do.” This perception is so recurrent that you’ve had the opportunity to hear it yourself in the seminars you’ve attended. It reflects a gap between what managers are supposed to do and what they limit themselves to. We often have to deal with employees who understand the challenges of management but find that their managers do not address them correctly. After several missions of strategic diagnosis that I have the opportunity to realize within big international groups, I’ve concluded the real problem behind this malaise is not a question of incompetence of the managers. You can have competent and very intelligent managers who deal with unfulfilled and uninvolved teams. The reason is that these managers are often subject to a tunnel effect which prevents them from making the most of what they are, what they know and what competences and skills are available. These managers avoid measuring their performance for efficient and agile use of resources instead of thinking only about expediency.
As soon as you take the executives out of their organisational environment and place them in inter-corporate events, they will tell you that they are grateful for the opportunities of fulfilment that you offer them (learning, networking, sharing, …). That said, there is always a reason which appears later in post ice-breakers conversations in cross corporate events & seminars. Attendees of workshops I lead often tell me “We really are here to think differently, to think about our problems, to avoid the blinders of routine and especially to tune down the waves of incessant solicitations which prevent us from looking at things differently at work, sometimes even depriving us of any room for thought”. The major take away from this observation is the need to not perceive issues through the lens of the daily grint and foster environments where we can unload organisational burdens and create room to rethink our problems properly and encourage free thinking explorations of solutions.