In our imperfect world we talk of skills, we talk of structures, we talk of competency frameworks, of behaviours and values. But for some reason, we rarely speak about beliefs. We focus on so much else, but give little, if any, time to define the why of I.
I’ve been mulling this one over for a while and my friend and co-conspirator Michael Carty recently caught the debate on this here. The thing that struck me about this brief foray, was how quickly the conversation turned away from beliefs back to behaviours.
Like so much of our work, we focus on the how and the what. But not the why.*
You see, it seems to me that if we can develop this, if we can define the belief system we work within, if we can create a shared higher purpose for our work, then we are simply more likely to taste success.
Let me give you something more concrete to consider:
– I believe I can make the workplace a better place for everyone
– I believe that everybody comes to work to do their best
– I believe I have as valuable contribution to make as everyone else
– I believe everyone is allowed to be wrong, including me
If you want to change behaviour, you need to address the beliefs that underpin it. Contrast with this. How many HR people come to work, instead with a mindset that says:
– I believe that people don’t take me seriously enough
– I believe that people don’t value HR
– I believe that managers are incompetent
– I believe that employees are always trying to get one over us
And what different behaviours would be demonstrated by someone with each of these set of beliefs?
The challenge I’ve had thrown at me is that organisations drive the belief systems. That’s rubbish. They can influence it sure, but only the individual truly controls their own beliefs. Almost every inspirational character in history has held a belief system that wasn’t dictated by their environment.
You can fiddle with the behaviours, you can focus on competencies, you can tinker with your structures. But unless you identify the belief systems that underpin them, my guess is, you’ll find yourself just a busy fool.
* (A hat tip to @GrumpyLecturer for that one).