Sunday, June 9, 2013

Culture of Accomplishment - Deciding and Executing what Matters

This one stems from the several exit interviews, employee interactions and experiences of self and others. I have written this post more as a concept paper than an article.

The Problem:

High attrition, disengaged and disgruntled employees, low employee morale and thereby low productivity are issues that have plagued most of the organizations globally. The result is increased intrinsic and extrinsic cost for the organizations resulting in leaner bottom lines. Any action on cutting down costs results in a Catch 22 situation for the companies.

In a recent report released by SilkRoad, a HR software solutions provider, 86% of the employers struggle to create and maintain workforce engagement. In another article on ‘’, ‘Measurement’ is termed as a weakness of employee engagement programs in terms of longevity and effectiveness. In the FORBES list of top 5 reasons for quitting jobs in 2013, stability, work-life balance and RESPECT have found mention. Two very important points can be deduced from all these articles, research papers and other literature on employee engagement and factors influencing employee longevity and effectiveness:

         1. The factors molding employee engagement are evolving.

         2. The premise on which employee engagement programs are based is flawed.

A Bigger Picture:

The only thing that is with the organization throughout its lifecycle and strongly influences its existence is its culture. Culture may get contaminated, invaded and normalized over the organization’s existence; however it exists. Culture is lasting; programs are not. Culture is what drives behavior, exchanges, morale and sets an unwritten agenda of how things are to be done and what is expected out of employees. It also strongly impacts the feelings, moods and emotional bursts that an employee may experience. Culture also channels the loyalty and longevity of the employees.

In my view which has crystallized with my experiences and those of others, culture has to be all encompassing and should stand for the values of the organization. A lot has been said and written about the culture of ‘Achievement’. However, there is very little mention of accomplishment in the organizational culture context. Elizabeth Curry, facilitator of the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute makes mention of the following prominent cultures in her workshops:

1. Power Culture
2. Achievement Culture
3. Role Culture
4. Support Culture 

Curry states that one of above four cultures is prominent in the organizations while the rest though exist are not dominant. McClelland’s human needs motivation theory speaks of –

n(P) – Need for Power

n(A) – Need for Achievement
n(Af) – Need for Affiliation
My view of a culture emanating ‘accomplishment’ is the one in which all four – power, achievement, role, support are equally dominant and mutually interact with each other to collectively enhance the beauties of each culture thereby snowballing the overall positive impact on the organization.

Y Accomplishment:

There’s nothing like seeing your own potential come to fruition and realizing your worth and intelligence as a human being”, quotes Mirella, a blogger in one of the blog posts. Besides, accomplishment caters to individualistic notions of accomplishment and thereby helps customize interventions to enhance individual accomplishments. A child’s sense of accomplishment may be very different from that of an adult. Even amongst children, the sense of accomplishment for a child playing soccer may be different from that of a studious kid. The beauty is even amongst soccer playing kids; sense of accomplishment for a goal keeper may be different from the one playing forward or center back. Same is the case with our employees in the organization and for that matter the employees in the same department or same team or subgroup. The other truly enticing quality of accomplishment is its inherent ability to sprout happiness within an individual.
The sense of accomplishment has longevity and also boosts your motivation to continue with your march – continuous accomplishment or path of new glory. Accomplishment can also be considered the pinnacle of an individual’s state of mind and heart.

In organizations, our employees may quit or may be disengaged or disgruntled citing reasons of insufficient compensation, opportunities, challenges, growth or even plain need for change or beat monotony. Understanding their sense of accomplishments helps the HR folks design, customize and drive interventions in the organizations. This also helps identify how individual strengths can be leveraged to deliver to the business strategy of the organization besides having happy employees at work. It is however important for HR folks to align individual accomplishments to the overall accomplishment of the organization. The organization’s sense of accomplishment may lie in earning revenues for its stakeholders, give back to the society, stand by environmental causes or just keeping all its primary and secondary stakeholders happy.

Culture of accomplishment goes a long way in helping us introspect on what example we wish to set for ourselves and others around. Also, deciding on what really matters and doing that.

I shall discuss on the tools and processes of enabling our employees in the next post. Till then, the point to ponder - Do we consider ourselves accomplished? 

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