5 Great Myths About Modern Work and People
Myth 1 People care about the organisation they choose to work with
Job aspirants spend plenty of time researching about the business they may work for. Job seekers often research company press releases, websites, annual reports, Glassdoor, and connect with current employees on LinkedIn to learn their experience. All this is an attempt to find clues about what it is like to work for that organisation.
The time spent on the research and speaking with current and ex-employees, is it really worth it? No, it is not and mostly proves useless. 2 people can not have the same experience with an organisation. When I was touring a distillery up in the Scottish Highlands, I asked the tour guide that which is the best whisky? He politely replied that whisky is a very personal thing, some may prefer a cheap whisky from Tesco or others may prefer a decent aged whisky. Again, some may like neat or some may prefer on the rocks. Two individuals may have completely different experience from the same whisky. People culture of an organisation matters but it can be an ambiguous assumption, based on which it is hard to predict one’s experience once they start working. It is always people and teams that matter not firms.
It looks like Job seekers care about the organisation they choose to work for, however, once they are in the job all they care about is their team. Leaders and organisations should concentrate on building great teams rather than great organisations.
Myth 2 Best plans are road to success
Organisations put their heart and soul in planning. Senior leaders take months for creating the corporate plan, which is then delegate the task of creating aligned plans to leaders in each business units and teams. At the end of this time-consuming exercise, they want everyone to move towards executing the plans. A lot of can change with lighting speed today, no one ever thought of COVID-19, Lockdown, new normal etc. Under such circumstances and pressure, plans prove outdated and irrelevant even before the execution starts. Such an approach only focusses on the tip of the iceberg.
Instead of such an approach organisation should share information and data with as many teams and people possible. Replace planning with information and keep the flow of information in real-time where possible, you will see a big change and a more resilient organisation. The employees will be able to make better decisions.
Myth 3 Companies who cascade goals are the best
Leaders from BT to Vodafone endorse the idea that if they create a set of goals for the business, then pick their own goals which is aligned with the businesses and then ask every line manager and employee all the way to the bottom of the organisational chart to craft goals that each link to the set of goals of the person just above them in the hierarchy, this will ensure that everyone’s work is connected. By doing so leaders believe that the whole firm is moving in sync in the same direction.
Cascading goals may seem wonderful in theory. However, they do not work in the practise. Goals imposed on people is meaningless and is like a marriage which is subject to domestic abuse where everyone is a flight risk. Your people will do their jobs rather when the time for review comes, they write creatively to fit with the prescribed goals. Whereas companies like Apple and Facebook use cascading meaning and purpose by expressed values and storytelling rather than goals. Leaders should empower employees by letting them choose their own goals.
Myth 4 Finding and hiring All-rounders is the best for the firm
Leaders believe that hiring all-rounders can be the blood and backbone of the business. Most organisations pursuit to define roles using generic competencies. Most of the traditional banks in the UK then hire, develop, and reward people based on the level of which they exhibit the pre-defined competencies. All-rounders may work in the cricket field. However, this does not simply work in a dynamic organisation.
There is no academic evidence that suggests that by acquiring the competencies, to one level or another, can raise performance at work. HR leaders should take the responsibility of embracing people strengths and uniqueness rather than fitting everyone into a set of competencies. When defining competencies, the key is that identify what matters most to the business, not just for measuring and promoting people.
Myth 5 Good managers always give feedback
If you google employee engagement or performance management – you will find tons of literature on the goodness of feedback, the more the better. However, in a real-world people do not like feedback, what they like is care and attention.
According to neuroscience when people hear negative feedback their brain triggers defensive and protective mode, which makes it almost impossible for them to listen and learn. Data suggests that with appreciation and care the chances of learning and innovating are very likely. This may also explain why HR should focus on people’s strengths because it yields performance, does not concentrate on improving weaknesses. If you want to develop people, first try to know them. Knowing them will acquaint you of their strengths.