For a long time I had given up on motivating people to excel. Given up, because I had tried everything possible and prescribed. From team huddles, to team outings, one on ones, power talks, external speakers,and online videos. Name it and I had done it. Yet, I consistently found three sets of people in every organization that worked, consulted or mentored.
- Go Getters: There were a set of people that had a great attitude, needed no motivation, not pep talk, no carrots, no sticks.
- Followers: They just pushed themselves only as much as required or when told to. These were the people that need constant goading.
- Bad Apples: There was a third set that had negative attitude, created most disturbance, took most vacations, most sick days, created negative energy . After a number of years I realized that most HR and team motivating work was done for these people. Eventually they were the ones that quit the organization at times when we needed them the most.
The problem: All this should be no surprise to any one of you. A few years ago I took on an assignment where we had most number of people in the organization that were either in the ‘Followers’ and ‘Bad Apples’ category. Business was growing and we couldn’t afford to let people go. We had to somehow change the very fabric of the culture or ethos of the organization without having to completely rehire everyone.
A strange weekend:
On Friday night, I was fixing to leave the office for the day. It was late,and, as I walked out of my office, I noticed that most of the lights on the floor were switched off. In the far corner of the hall way I saw someone was still working. I walked down to see who it was. It was Bill! I was surprised because he fell in my third category. I asked him what he was doing this late and requested him to go home and get some rest.
He said, “I am unwinding Harsha. It has been a tough week. I thought I will go ahead and play my favorite social networking game on the internet.”
He turned back and continued his efforts at making his avatar in the game kill another avatar that was already dead in the first place!
I shook my head and thought “I will really never understand these people” in disgust. On one side we have to beg them to complete their job and other the other they are trying to get the 7th level in a virtual game on a Friday night when they still have a lot of work left on their plate.
The next morning I reached my usual Saturday morning golf game at a golf course that was an hours drive from the city. We had a lot of people from mid forties to mid seventies. Literally everyone in the group was at least a CxO or a owner of their own successful business.
The commitment levels of these people to the game was unbelievable. Some of them had come into the gym to work out at 5:30 AM to be better at the game. While others were out at the driving range or academy trying to hone their game before starting the game.
We were divided into teams of two and four and competition was intense. Nobody would give an inch. The teams were pick at random on the first tee but the middle of the round you would have thought that the people on the opposing teams were sworn rivals and the ones on the same team were blood brothers!
While they distributed the grand price (‘A sleeve of golf balls‘!) to the winning teams, I thought to myself, “I wish I could replicate this team commitment with my teams at work.”
I went straight back to work. The afternoon and evening went by fast and I was ready to close out the day my eye feel on a brand new sleeve of golf balls that I won from my golfing buddies. It occurred to me that I was no different than Bill at a different level. I had a major problem on hand and yet I was playing golf with my buddies. Then what separated the good from the bad??? It seemed like we were all hooked on the game.
“In order to win these golf balls CxOs fight like kids and go to extreme lengths, when each one of them can afford to buy a golf ball manufacturing company without denting their wallets!”. This is the same with Bill and his effort to kill the dead. The common theme with all these people was the GAME itself!!!
Now I got excited! Things started falling into place. My golf coach, gym coach were all a lot harsher, direct, and pushed me 10 times harder than my managers at work. But every time my manager came into help me or give a constructive criticism I would get mad at him for days!!!!
That was it! I started writing on my board and this is what I came up with…
The ox zion (Our enterprise social network software to enable operation excellence!) is built to help companies execute these findings.
Results: After we implementing the Club within the organization we found the follow results:
- Not only did we not have any of the problems described above, but we were able to turn all project around with 100% success rate when the company grew in size.
- With the use of club, employees felt that their contribution matter and team became more of a sports team. There was no ‘management vs. us’ issues. The practical result was the change in the number of bad apples/followers to go getters.
- In just one year of implementing the software we were able to bring about team cohesiveness and reduce attrition by over 50%.
If you want to achieve similar results, please feel free to call any one of us at Vantage Agora.
About Vantage Agora
Vantage Agora (VA) is a global provider of back-office solutions, custom IT services and consulting services for companies in the insurance, finance, and healthcare sectors. As a SSAE 16 Type II audited company, Vantage Agora utilizes advanced data processing and quality control systems on a secured network to ensure efficient, comprehensive management of back-office for the insurance and finance sectors. Along with that Club VA has helped several companies improve their operational efficiency of their organizations. Founded in 2004, Vantage Agora has offices in Cleveland and Dallas.