As we look into the fresh beginnings of a new year, I wanted to offer a bold idea that could absolutely transform your organization in 2017:

What if you could replace your entire people strategy with the diagram above and a simple mantra?

That may seem crazy, but hear me out…

For each individual, the zone where the two circles in the diagram above overlap is what we’d call your “true strengths.” In that spot lies the activities that you’re both wildly good at AND where you feel the most energized and alive.

This place is where each person contributes their highest and best value to the organization—and they’re able to do it in a sustainable way where they don’t burn out.

If you want a better people strategy, all you need to do is get every single person in your organization into the center of the above diagram.

At first glance, this probably seems oversimplified: “How could that be all I need to do? I’ve been paying consultants and trainers thousands of dollars for years to help me develop people…!?”

But if you look closer, I think you’ll see that it’s not really that simple at all. There are likely many obstacles in your organization that would prevent you from executing this strategy this year.

Here’s a few questions you might explore:

1) “DO WE TALK ABOUT WHAT ENERGIZES PEOPLE?”

Most organizations don’t ever use language like, “When are you at your best?” or “If you had to give it a percentage, how much of your role makes you feel energized and alive?”

This is usually the first obstacle: this topic (which is the entire pink circle on the right in the diagram, 50% of the overall strategy!) isn’t even a current discussion topic on the table.

2) “DO WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE WORK COULD BE LIFE-GIVING?”

In some kind of bizarre ancient holdover from the industrial age, deep down many companies still tacitly cling to a view that work should “feel like work” (in other words, you really shouldn’t like it all that much).

Not only is this belief stupid and outdated, it’s actively sabotaging your organization’s effectiveness.

This is usually the second obstacle: upgrading our beliefs to an understanding of how great work actually gets done. Simply put, people who love what they do do better work, so you want LOTS more of these people in your company.

3) “DO WE ACTIVELY HELP PEOPLE DO MORE OF WHAT ENERGIZES THEM?”

Because of the belief expressed in #2, most of our organizational systems, policies, procedures, etc. are actually designed to, in business terms, “not give a crap” about what energizes people at work. Let me give you some examples:

  • When we hire people, we don’t use a scientific way to measure what intrinsically motivates a candidate.
  • When we organize our teams, we don’t let people self-select into the tasks they’d enjoy doing.
  • When we promote people into leadership, we don’t actively discuss how much they LOVE the process of thinking strategically or developing others.

Once we get past the first two obstacles, #3 becomes the overwhelming driver of our new people strategy—reinventing most of our old processes to actively HELP every single person in the company find their way, more and more and more and more, into their zone of true strength.

If you can do this, most of your other people efforts will become ancillary (and will probably cease to be necessary).

Wishing you a fabulous and energized 2017!

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