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Why Attempting to Change Staff Values to Fix Poor Team Working Is Futile

Whatever the status of your business (young, established, small, large, merger, acquisition, etc.), the internal tensions arising from needing your staff to “sing from the same hymn sheet” can be so consuming and damaging that productivity and profitability can be negatively impacted. And you’re not alone!

As Ernst & Young Global Limited recently stated, “The world continues to change as a result of developments in globalization, demographics, technology and regulation. These disruptive forces require organizations to change rapidly – and they need their people to be agile and adaptable to that change.”

Business owners and executives commonly worry and complain about their teams’ apparent inability to “simply get familiar” with the published vision and mission statements as well as performance targets of the company. They then often proceed to devise ways of “changing the attitudes of the work-force” in the mistaken belief that everyone must think and have the same emotional relationship with the company as the business owner or CEO.

Achieving alignment between your corporate brand and activities is the primary means of building and sustaining trust with your customer base. When this alignment exists, your customers experience such comfortable congruence between what you say and what you do that they start believing your value proposition and are then more likely to buy (from) you.

In order to get people (i.e. your customers) to buy your ideas, products or services, you need to get your people (i.e. staff, suppliers, investors and other upstream or internal stakeholders) to buy into your vision and mission. At a minimum, your people need to do the following.

  • Understand and agree with the ethics underpinning the founding and operations of your enterprise.
  • Identify with and be enthused by the values of your organisation.
  • Be committed to achieving S.M.A.R.T goals that will facilitate the realisation of your vision and mission.
  • Accept your leadership and guidance in respect of setting the goals and rewarding their attainment.

Most companies try to enforce alignment between their people’s beliefs, goals and behaviours on the one hand and their organisation’s vision and mission on the other.

In reality, this enforced congruence, even if achievable in the short term, tends to fizzle out over the medium to long term, unless the right steps are taken during the founding and initial growth of the organisation.

I really like what am seeing here and…

The reason for this has exercised the minds of eminent philosophers over the ages. Societies originally favoured the Aristotelian thinking that the human mind was something of a blank slate that “almost anything could be written onto”, but eventually found that Socratic logic ascribing a certain content and independence to each individual better explained human behaviour and performance.

There is little to be gained in trying to change values and personalities of staff once they have already been employed, because it is something integral to each individual human being.

Therefore, rather than try to change people (which is usually futile), it is far better to holistically make the right choices of roles and resources as early as possible. In other words, invest your energies in “putting round pegs in round holes” to capitalise on the way the human mind is “wired”. There is little to be gained in trying to change values and personalities of staff once they have already been employed, because it is something integral to each individual human being.

To take the right initial steps, it is essential that you establish the value-system of your organisation on the one hand and thereby arrive at its “personality type”. You will then also need to match the various “personality types” of your upstream stakeholders on the other hand with that of your company, such that each side harmonises with and reinforces the other.

Not only is it necessary to hire or engage people with the right personality types, it is also important to set up a system whereby each resource learns to “speak the language” of the other resources. This is the best way to ensure optimal team harmony and effectiveness.

Random quote:

“When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.”

— Abraham Maslow

You can now see that

  • Your team is inefficient and pulling in the wrong directions because of poor communication and a poor recruitment strategy.
  • Your company risks losing its competitive advantage and profitability if you focus on the wrong remedies for poor team dynamics.
  • You generally cannot change people’s natures; it’s far better to put “round pegs in round holes”.

So instead of trying to change values and personalities, it is more worthwhile for you to understand each of your staff members first and strategically place them where s/he can grow and make the greatest impact in the company.

What are your experiences? Please comment below.



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