Capitalizing on the Whole

Organisations perform at their highest when people bring their whole selves to work.

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As a manager, you know the importance of KPIs related to productivity and revenues, and you know that to succeed as an organization today, you have to achieve highest performance from your people. However, the reality in the last years is that people are getting more and more exhausted, disengaged, and drained. In a world of relentlessly rising competitiveness and complexity, the great-unsolved puzzle of the modern workplace is how to tap into people’s whole potential so they can perform sustainably at their best.

In the past, we’ve often associated higher performance with betters skills and abilities, and we’ve gone after white collar productivity with the same unmitigated vigor that we have gone after blue collar productivity for the last century. However, in today’s economy human performance is much more dependent on how people think and feel, and how evolved they are as human beings. Unfortunately, that remains to be a “blind spot” in many organizations, where the unspoken expectation is that employees will set aside their personal needs and focus on getting their work done according to a corporate plan.

Maybe, rather than trying to force reality to stick to the corporate plan we’ve made, it is much better to adapt our plans to reality.

People in organizations –a puzzle, a resource, parts of a mechanism or a living system?

Whatever your answer is, you can put on hold all plans, budgets, mid-term plans, targets and incentives. It is time to rethink everything.

The unspoken fact in the game of business is that all players –employees and managers– often hide important aspects of who they are and show up only part of themselves at work. Traditional business rarely invites people to show up as a whole person — caring, authentic, vulnerable, creative, and intuitive. Focus remains on the analytical (left-brain) activities and much less on the right brain, leaving the emotional and spiritual aspects of who we are as people completely out of the equation.

That means most people do not bring a huge part of their passion, energy and creativity to work.

High performance organizations however do not want their people to leave their passion, energy and creativity at the doorsteps of their offices. They create organizational culture that empowers people to reveal their full potential and bring their whole selves to work, a culture that makes them feel part of something bigger than themselves that goes well beyond the focus on profit and performance. As the author Daniel Pink puts it, we’re progressing to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning makers.

According to the Energy Project, in today’s economy, the best measure of productivity is no longer how much time people invest but how much energy they bring to whatever hours they work — and the value they produce as a consequence. Furthermore, sustainably engaged employees are those who have not only the willingness, but also have the physical, emotional, mental and social energy to invest. Therefore, organizations that create cultures that actively promote physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being and meet those needs, have operating margins almost double than those of traditionally engaged employees.

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