Context is the king

Want to ultimately motivate your staff and increase loyalty? Give them context.

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine De Saint Exupery, author of The Little Prince

Complication:

Recently, we did a survey among 1455 students across several universities in Czechia. Even though we expected this, we were shocked.

Here are the results for question "What would attract you to a particular employer?":

  • 18% said  "Corporate brand/​Employer branding"
  • 20% said "Compensation/​Benefits"
  • 62% said "Synergies with the company needs and space to grow" 

Are you surprised, too? Apparretly, nothing is the way it used to be. The classical model "work as much as possible, learn and wait for the opportunity to step-​up" is gone.

This situation is not much different among more senior employees. Leaders of the 5th level, according to Jim Collins (Book: Good To Great), get people to the bus and just then decide, where to go. Again, it is about “who“ in the first place and only then about “what“. Context is the king.

The main difference that most of the companies and leaders haven’t understood as of yet is the difference between giving people context, not to controlling them:

Source: Netflix Culture Book

Of course, there are exceptions such as emergency situations, learning stage or wrong person in the role. Still, in the latter two situations there is help to recognize them as soon as possible.

Resolution:

The key to this is to understand the strenghts of your people. And here two more critical challenges occur: managers think they already know how to assess competences and employees are supposed to somehow naturally know their strenghts and weaknesses.

Let me tell you another story: In my early professional career I was working for a SW company. They let us go through MBTI personality and competencies assessment. That consisted of an offline assessment and two days of training: first day there was theory about what each personality type means and what are the differences between these types. Before we went into practice we had to guess, which color (reresenting personality) out of four we are. 80% of us were wrong. This taught me a lesson that even among seasoned professionals the majority of people see themselves differently than they actually are when it comes to strenghts and weaknesses.

So here comes the bottom line recommendation to the managers: "When one of your talented people does something dumb, don´t blame them. Instead, ask yourself what you did to understand their competencies and what context you failed to set".


Vision without execution is hallucination.
Peter Kmoško, author of the article

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