Unless your company has been unbelievably lucky, few of your people are in the right seats. According to Gallup, Deloitte and others, we spend only 30% of our time doing the work that our brains are hardwired for. That means that 70% of the time we are doing work we find a drudge, a drain on our energy. Which means we take a long time to do it and we don’t do it very well. See the productivity implications already?

Our usual response to this news is to say ‘Well, work is supposed to be hard. We’re not supposed to enjoy our work. Are we?’

Let’s turn that around. If you are CEO of your business, would you choose to give people work they can’t do very well when the person on the next desk can do it in half the time and do it better? Of course not. Yet that is exactly what most businesses do.

The only question is, do you want to continue to give people the wrong work – and suffer the consequences of low productivity and innovation – when there’s no longer any need to do so?

Meeting the needs of the organization, in areas such as profits, innovation, time scales and costs, needs the right people in the right seats. Specifically it needs motivated people with an eye for detail, planning abilities, able to fix today’s issues and maybe with an ability to drive change.

But you won’t get all these qualities from one person. That’s because no-one has the full set of natural strengths and talents.  We are all made with only a sub-set, a unique sub-set. The irony is that we know this of people and yet treat everyone as though they are the same and expect them to all excel at the same thing. This just isn’t the case. It’s starkly revealed in Gallup’s survey data which shows our teams are working at less than 40% efficiency.

Let’s consider that for a moment. Our biggest single cost is our people. In fact, the total costs of employment are massive. Yet we are paying fully competitive salaries and getting back way less than a full performance. Why aren’t we outraged at this terrible deal? We’re happy to spend millions of pounds introducing new technologies and new processes that improve productivity by a few percentage points. Yet we ignore the option to drive efficiency across the workforce by engaging people fully in their work, an option that would cost a fraction of the other yet improve productivity by 30-40%. How would CEOs’ faces (and shareholders) beam if we did this?

The starting point is to understand that all people are hardwired differently and nothing you do or say will change that. Put people into roles that are at odds with their natural ability and they will become stressed. They will perform poorly. Tasks will be executed inefficiently and to low quality. Alternatively, put people in roles where they can apply their natural strengths and talents most of the time and they will become highly motivated and engaged. You will have teams that work.

To fully engage talent, you have to turn standard notions on their head. But, beware, one of the inhibitors you will find in this could be your HR team. The usual process in building a team is to define the various roles and then find the best skills to fulfil that role. This is what HR does – but it hasn’t worked.

At this point, you already have your people in place, you just need to fix why they’re not engaged. There’s no point doing a skills match. That didn’t work first time, so it’s not going to work now. But by understanding how people behave, are motivated and how they use their thinking cycles when solving today’s problems and planning for the future, you are in a great position to give them tasks and roles that they’ll do really well. That’s when you can move from    < 40% efficiency to 80% efficiency or more.

Greater efficiency is a must, especially as we all need to adhere to and comply with ever tougher parameters laid down by legislators, regulators and other bodies who create burdensome rules.

Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you can shape your teams so that people are able to exploit their natural strengths and talents – to do what they do best – incredible things happen. People achieve more in less time because they are doing what they are hardwired for. And they’ll do it better; quality of work improves because employees are fully engaged and want to make a difference. Barriers within and between teams come tumbling down because everyone knows and respects each other’s natural abilities. This is an important point. You know how it can take months to really get to know the strengths of team colleagues? Now it can be done in a day. Literally – just challenge us to prove it. Teammates can know each other like they know the pages of a favourite book, in hours. This intimate knowledge brings higher levels of collaboration between peers and with management. £ for £ we can get much more benefit from improved teaming than we can from any technology or process.

The bottom line is that boards and shareholders are looking for good benchmarks and ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Enterprises have a good deal of the answer when they ensure their people are able to do what they do best. This will drive overall efficiency and innovation by a huge margin – and all by creating teams that work.

To craft a people solution in your company by making teams that work, hit Contact Us at right.


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