Raising the bar

I want to talk a little bit about performance, about achievement, about success. I want to talk a little bit about work, about education, about life. The reality is, that if I hit 0.0001% of the issues that I want to talk about, I’ll have done a good job. Because these things are complex, they are interlinked and intrinsically entwined with a myriad of other issues.

But everything starts somewhere.  So let us consider this the somewhere of starts.

We constantly talk about “raising the bar”. The phrase in itself, so well accepted that we seldom consider its meaning. We all need to raise the bar and then we ail have sorted all of the issues that we have in society. Once the bar is raised all will be well.

Children will be educated, the unemployed will become employed, families will become more functional and businesses more community  minded. The bar has been raised and thus we will respond with vim and vigour and our collective efforts will see us prevail.

The other day they raised the bar on childbirth, they also raised it on disco dancing, knitting and sky diving.  Overnight, I suddenly became so much better at all of these things.

It is amazing what a bar can do. Suddenly, my learning preferences, my intellectual capability, the source of information and the quality of my education increased exponentially. They were directly connected to the bar.

But, as you know, this is bullshit.

We can focus on outputs as much as we like, but unless we focus on the inputs as well, we’re just deluding ourselves. Success is measured by outputs, but is created by inputs. And yet bizarrely we so often want to drive the former by reducing the latter.

Performance isn’t driven by hard targets. Success isn’t created by defining KPIs. Raising the bar will deliver success as quickly as increasing the tempo will help me to dance better. Or a population target will help me to give birth.

Performance, success, organisational alignment are all complex issues. If you want a better organisation, if you want a better society, if we want a better world, we need to understand the systemic nature of our existence and ignore the simplicity of readily acceptable statements.

So as our educational system will not be redefined by measuring it in another way, your organisation will not improve because you’ve set a new bunch of KPIs. And you won’t lose weight just because you’ve bought a smaller pair of jeans.

And as for me….I think my birthing days are beyond me. But maybe….if we just raise that bar. Hell…..well, you never know……

Nobody wants to be engaged

I once said that “nothing says past it” more than Human Capital Management.

I was wrong.

Don’t worry, I haven’t suddenly become a HCM groupie.

Far from it…..

I was wrong because NOTHING says past it more than the term “Employee Engagement”.

I recently tweeted that “every time I hear this term another part of me dies“…so you can imagine what writing about it does to me.

But sometimes I just can’t help myself. We all have our crosses to bear.

I have a confession. Never…..absolutely NEVER in my life have I woken up and thought….”I wish I was more engaged”. Moreover, I can guarantee that there is not a single employee within your organisation that has either.

Engagement doesn’t exist. Engagement is the sort of term a consultant would create. And then claim it was measurable and sell it at massively inflated amounts to a profession that was insecure and desperate to find some data to prove that they were both relevant and commercial.

I have no idea where they would find a profession like that. Do you?

Please. Let’s stop.

Let’s grow up.

Let’s be human.

For generations people worked for the same companies. They worked there because the organisations valued them, they treated them well, they gave them security, they gave them incentives to stay. But, they NEVER TALKED ABOUT ENGAGEMENT.

Engagement doesn’t replace a decent pension scheme, engagement doesn’t pay the mortgage on your house, engagement doesn’t provide job security.

Engagement is a term that we create to apologise for using people to generate profit.

We need to stop focussing on vacuous self-created concepts that are completely alien to the vast majority of human beings. We need to start talking about the things that matter to people. Real people.

Call me uncool, call me old-fashioned. Call me naïve.

I’m ok with that.

You aim for engaged employees…..I’ll do what’s right for my people and treat them like valued grown ups.

I think they deserve that.