Investing in people means the conventional and expected things. You can send high-performers to leadership development, provide access and time for seminars and online learning. You can reward with money, praise, and attention. Yet, three aspects of people investment tend to get overlooked, leaving the most driven and brightest unmotivated and rudderless, looking for the door.
These three elements of high-functioning team dynamics for the highly productive are: radical acceptance, radical collaboration, and radical challenges.
Let’s look at each of the three in a little more depth and you can decide how radically productive you want your culture to be.
Radical acceptance—Professional life used to require a compartmentalization of life. You’d leave your personal issues, interests, and even many of your driving proclivities and core passions out of the office. Given the rise of volunteerism and community involvement, the high value placed on individual talent, the war for talent, and the hope for retaining top talent for the long-term, organizations must allow a fully human expression of its employees.
We call this trend radical acceptance of the people who choose to work at a culture. Prospective employees are looking for a place to invest most of their waking life. If you choose to embrace all of them and accept them as a multi-dimensional human, rather than a replaceable cog in a machine, loyalty increases dramatically.
Radical collaboration—The rise of project-led teams equals a non-hierarchical approach to complex problem solving. After accepting the individuals at your firm, you then need to craft a culture that allows for radical collaboration. Radical collaboration means more than meeting to toss ideas around and defer to higher ranked members to ascribe priorities to them. Rather, it is an invitation to journey into the realms of strategy, insights, innovation, and new revenue possibilities together. Collaborating on this type of project team allows each team member to bring his or her passion to work.
Often it takes a little unlearning for people to behave with such deep trust that they risk exploring with one another, counting on support from the team. When radical collaboration is embraced by an organization, you engage deeply, playing to one another’s innate strengths. Think of it like a jazz band where a form of telepathy takes hold and you intuitively know how one member of the band will embellish a theme yet are surprised by the sublime results.
Radical challenges—If you want to incentivize high performers give them more and more complex challenges. The thrill of solving a problem that no one else has solved can be as motivating as money or a promotion. With certain types of professionals, radical challenges can be a more compelling incentive to make your organization their work home. Being assigned a key special project is a reward that cannot be underestimated.
Want to win the talent wars? Let your people be people at work, allow them to engage fully, and reward them with increasingly more interesting work. What sounds radical is really a common sense way to build an innovative organization.