The work gets done.
Not long ago I was coaching a group struggling with some workplace issues. You might wonder sometimes what the hell HR consultants do. Imagine this: your team's productivity is dropping along with quality and customer sat while your handle time, cost and tempers are all rising. But you don't know why.
Performance consultants – like me – try to get to root cause. That's what I do.
In various discussions, one to one interviews and finally some focus groups, ultimately the truth came out. If you lower the water enough eventually the rocks emerge.
In this particular case the rocks included a lack of even a basic understanding of leadership much less actually demonstrating it. This was illustrated by one of the leaders who simply couldn't grasp how his unavailability to his team, constant gossiping and unprofessional behavior was a negative when questioned about the toxic workplace.
“But the work gets done,” he stammered.
Is that all we do?
If the goal is simply to “get the work done” we can all save a lot of time currently spent thinking (and talking) about some of the larger questions. We get so wrapped around the axle thinking about engagement, motivation and managing across generations. But if all we want is to get work down we can stop all that.
As long as we're at it we can forget about continuous improvement, employee development and customer loyalty too since, in the end, we're just trying to get something done. You can't expect your teams to do good work, maintain high productivity and efficiency, much less build lasting customer relationships with a focus as bland and banal as “getting work done.”
This outlook trivializes art and commerce and ignores quality of process and product as well as the richness we can realize in internal and external relationships.
On the other hand, if our goals are more aspirational – if its not just getting something “done” but actually adding value, transforming status quo and actually building relationships… Well, friends, that's a hell of a lot more powerful.
The next time you're stymied by organizational intransigence and can't understand why people aren't giving more, much less giving their all, ask yourself some self-reflective questions. Are you encouraging them to reach higher or just to get something done, to make it through the day?
People are astute: they can sense not only your true north but your conviction as well.
If you want people to step up their game, you're going to have to lead the way.
You're going to have to do a lot more than just get work done.