Creating Harmony among Employees

A harmonious relationship among employees beneits the business in too many ways to list. Perhaps they can be summarized in this way: there can be no high-performance, high-vitality work system without harmonious relationships among people.

Most people will dedicate suficient energy to do what they must to earn their pay and beneits, and they will be loyal towards their organization if the work they are given is enjoyable and challenging and if they are rewarded well. But to go beyond this – to reach a state of harmony
where the organization's vitality is at a high-performance level – the business organization and its leaders must take a different approach where employers and employees are partners, not combatants. There are many ways to do this, some more strategic, some very tactical. One tactical way our company approached this was by expanding our thinking, which led us to design a system of incentive pay. This was not unusual: in almost every company senior executives are provided a portion of pay “at risk.” In other words, a portion of pay is variable based on meeting certain company directives. Meet those, and you earn the pay; exceed them, and you get more; do not meet them, and you get less. However, we extended this system to everyone in the organization. The percentage of “pay at risk” for lower ranks was less than it was for the executives, based on role accountability, but the potential was the same: more pay for better-thanexpected results, less pay for less-than-expected results. This approach was highly successful and created greater harmony between the organization and its people. Even in dificult times, when some segments of the company did not perform, there was a sense of “we are partners, we are all in this together.” This vitality was, of course, stronger when people were achieving their targets, which often happened. Employees at all pay levels made the connection between themselves and the organization's purpose.

An even more powerful strategic way we found to create a harmonious partnership between the organization's goals and those of its people entailed a universal approach to learning and developing leadership capabilities. It involved a cross-organizational strategy of leadership development: Everyone a Leader. Everyone wants to learn, and people will become a leader with an organization that gives them the opportunity to learn while they are working. That is because they sense that the company is interested in them as human beings and that it is encouraging them and investing in their personal development.

The Everyone a Leader approach to leadership underscores that encouraging personal development fosters harmony between the business and its employees and that the organization will be transformed as a result. Everyone wants to feel satisied with their work and to feel proud when they tell people where they work. In the simplest of terms, people want to feel a sense of common purpose with their employer. They do not want to go to work feeling bad or alienated from their employer. Unfortunately, too many of them do. People want to be part of a high-performance work system where the beneits of work are shared and so are their personal values, and where their purposes are common.

Working Effectively in Teams

The vitality, spirit, and energy of people are all greatly enhanced by collaborative work. Almost everyone agrees that teams are the best venue for accomplishing work. Yet if you ask a group of people in a business organization, a social action group, or any other experienced group, “Are the teams you have participated in as a member or a leader effective? Do they get the desired results?” the answer is likely to be surprisingly negative.

The task, then, is to establish teams that work as intended – teams that increase the vitality of the people working on them and teams that thereby maximize the results of the work they do. And in a high-performance work system, that task belongs to leaders.

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