Why don't we make our dreams come true?
How do we equate a good work ethic, a dedication to results and a focus on the enterprise, to achieving one's own dreams and goals?
What if we all rooted to fulfill our team member's dreams and if all HR professionals decided to make this their value proposition
These days, unless it’s a reality show, it doesn’t get our blood pumping. From the desi Bigg Boss, to Jhalak Dikhlaja, to the imported Masterchef and Project Runway - we all seem to be hooked onto watching other peoples’ dreams come alive. Conversations about the boss’s latest tirade have been replaced by what Sidhu is preaching and why Heidi wore what she did on last night’s episode.
What is even more surprising is how the family is divided on who should win. Clearly, familial ties no longer matter and the battle lines are drawn. I was, however, amazed at how the common theme was each of us rooting for somebody else fulfilling his/her dream. The normally curmudgeonly aunt surreptitiously voting on the phone for her favorite contestant, because according to her, this is the participant’s only chance to fulfill his/her dream, sets me thinking!
HR professionals are probably rejoicing that the focus has shifted from all that is wrong with the company to cheering and defending their favorite contenders on TV. A much more positive way to spend your time if you ask me... Now, if only we could find a way to transition that inspired feeling to the work at hand (my HR side kicking in)
What if we all rooted to fulfill our team member’s dreams. If all HR professionals decided to make this their value proposition. Would it work? Is it possible?
Let us figure it out.
How do we get people so focused on supporting a complete stranger’s dream, to apply this energy and goodwill to themselves? How do we equate a good work ethic, a dedication to results and a focus on the enterprise to achieving one’s own dreams and goals?
A good starting place is how we communicate to our employees. Our standard and time tested approach is, talk about how the work we are doing impacts the organization.
Good work = good results = good profits = more investments = more business = more profits.
But that is the organization’s dream, isn’t it?
How about shifting our mindset and finding out what end state the employee is working towards? Maybe for him or her, the equation is more like:
Good work = good results = good increments = better vacation = better memories
There are synergies to be had, but the visualization of the end states is very different. We tend to talk in terms of the first equation, when we should be working on finding out what the equation is for each employee.
Right about now, my colleagues in the IT and manufacturing industries are rolling their eyes… “Sure Elango, let me take this up for the 40,000 people I support and clear the table off all the other jobs I do!”
I beg to differ…40,000 people, does not mean 40,000 dreams! If you actually try and do this, I bet you will find many similar dreams. Right away, that is a win:
You have, of course, identified what your employees really want out of life.
You have managed to group people by common dreams and their inherent objective in life.
Now, if you align your communication to these groups based on the outcomes they are trying to achieve, here is what will happen:
You will get more acceptance because you are speaking to their wants.
You will have helped employees build a community that is centered around their wants, not necessarily their work.
You will have formed a self-motivated group that has each other’s support in reaching their dreams.
Let us say all this is too much and you are a manager who just wants to make it happen in your own small unit.
Here is a quick way – the next time you are doing your appraisal or one-on-one meeting, after all the discussions are over, surprise them with this question:
‘So, what is your dream?’
Of course, you will get a blank look and make them wonder if it’s a tricky question.
Keep a straight face and persist… you would be amazed at the conversation that ensues. Remember to listen attentively, make notes and commit to follow through. I experimented this with a long timer with me and here is what happened.
We just completed our monthly one-on-one and as my colleague was preparing to leave, I popped this question.
I got the ‘are you serious’ look. I kept a straight face and nodded for my colleague to go on. After some uncomfortable hemming, hawing and ‘ok, are you sure’ entreaty, he blurted out.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.”
And we spent the next 30 minutes talking about it. Amazing conversation and both of us walked out smiling. We did not arrive at a conclusion, but we agreed to continue talking and maybe even look at ways in which I could help him set up something supporting MphasiS.
I don’t know where this will go, but I realized we connected at a much deeper level than before.
Maybe, this is the beginning of many more conversations and connects. I don’t need a reality show to get my adrenaline pumping, I have enough reality at work that I can tap into. I realized you just need to ask that question…
As always, would love to hear your thoughts and your experiences.
Elango R, is the Chief Human Resources Officer at MphasiS and author of the book “You Don’t Need a Godfather”. You
can read his blog on www.ElangoR.com and follow him on Twitter @agastyasays