Contented Cows? Be True to Your..Company? Do Your Job! Team Flow.
Welcome to the middle of May, a time of great energy and action, with a hint of distraction in the air. Memorial Day looms and quickly beyond lies…summer. Sharing what we find of interest every 45 days has been a challenge in only that we have to narrow our selections. Options abound. Longtime readers will know that the study of performance as both an individual and a team is what we metaphorically call our “Soup,” with our interpretations of it offered to others being our “Art”.
In this edition we turn our attention to employee engagement. Tension exists around the topic of how to get the most yield from an employee. In this issue we share a series of articles that discusses what is working at places ranging from a dairy farm in Indiana, to the halls of Facebook, to the locker room of the New England Patriots.
It turns out that the software engineers of the Silicon Valley have some competition when it comes to perks at work. The dairy cows of Kelsay Farms in Indiana may not have Foosball tables and free lunch every day, but they do have waterbeds, custom back scratchers, and cool air blowing on them. Why all the fuss? Because a happy cow is a productive cow, especially with some of the milk going for $14 a gallon direct to consumers. Now, a cow can’t talk and who knows at what point there is a diminishing return, but the amount of milk per day produced is pretty easy to track. As of today it appears the “encouragement” camp is working on our bovine.
Be True to Your....Company?
Most will know the Beach Boys song from 1963 as “Be True to Your School”, yet current research being done by Adam Grant at Facebook has started to show that pride in your company can have a large impact on the amount of work the average employee will produce in a day. It can graphically be represented on an axis of belonging and autonomy.
People love to have choice, and they also love to belong. When they feel that their company's purpose aligns with their own values they take more initiative. The new haunting question for leaders may become: are you proud of our team? What a powerful yet challenging question for many work environments. I can just see several of my earlier bosses falling out of their chairs in laughter. Does this mean we need plenty of circle time and not challenge each other? Is the chain of command completely broken and the inmates are running the asylum? Not necessarily, as discussed in this article from the May edition of Fast Company.
Do Your Job!
Now here are some words that maybe a few more of us are used to hearing. Do your job. This is the sign posted in the New England Patriots locker room. With recent history as example, it appears they players are listening. The usual reluctant public communicator coach Bill Belichick agreed to sit down with a CNBC reporter recently and talk leadership, as well as the concept of getting the highest performance out of each player. The principles are sound, the behavior needed is clearly defined, and with a game that hasn’t changed its boundary lines or ball size recently the basic strategy can be deliberate. In this scenario the life time production of the player relative to the contented cows may seem similar, as both have water treatment facilities, yet with the average tenure of an NFL starter coming in under three years, we are guessing the rules and leadership strategies might reflect the duration of a performer. Regardless of tenure, the players on the roster are under Belichick’s care, and even this apparent hard liner speaks to caring about his players.
We close by bringing it all together with a man with the hardest last name in the world to spell. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was a young boy in Europe at the start of WWll and has spent a lifetime studying the highest of performance states, FLOW. His research has been the bedrock for most of today’s top sociologists. We all know when we have it, we all know when it is gone, and as leaders the challenge of obtaining it as our numbers increases grows. It is the Leaders Challenge and as always any insights into how you have been accomplishing Team Flow are most welcome. His Ted Talk is linked below.
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