Strategy

26th April 2018

Pride

I have just picked up a book by Jon Katzenbach called ‘Why Pride Matters More Than Money’. If you haven’t come across Katzenbach before I can highly recommend him as the co-author of one of the best books on team dynamics, “The Wisdom of Teams”. The title intrigued me. I am not sure how much pride people generally feel about the work they do. I am not sure how much pride figures in the thinking of business owners and business leaders. Perhaps it should or could figure more.

When I was starting my managerial journey I consider myself to have been very lucky in that I got my first placement in a business group that had a great reputation for developing great managers. It seemed as though, in those days, many, if not most, of the senior figures in the industry had been involved, at some time with this particular business. Of course things change and nothing lasts forever but having started on a high I wasn’t prepared to accept anything that I felt was second best after that, and as I climbed the corporate ladder one of the most important criteria, to me, was that I had to be part of a business, a team, a division of which I could be proud.

That need to be proud of what I was doing and the outfit I was working for and the people I was working with, was I realise now, an important motivator for me. That same motivation led to a career that was liberally sprinkled with awards and accolades. Now that particular option may not be open to everybody but I wonder what the financial payback is for investing in the pride of our team members.

I am conscious of the level of emotional disengagement there typically is in organisations across the globe. Gallup calculates that less than 30% of the workforce is engaged at any time, and by engaged they mean ‘are emotionally invested in their workplace’. At least seven out of every ten people employed will be disengaged and inevitably a proportion of those who are disengaged will be actively disengaged, in other words working consciously or unconsciously against the organisation that employs them.

It is difficult to see how someone who is proud of their work, their colleagues and their organisation can also be disengaged. High-level leadership may be beyond many but surely the ability to engender some pride is available to pretty much everyone. All we have to do is to catch someone doing something right, to keep pointing out the good stuff, to notice when our people and teams do well and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

I remember an incident many years ago when a mechanic who worked for one of my teams had to work over to get a clients truck back to them. He was extremely angry and resentful to have to work past his normal finish time, but he got the job done. We were about to ring the customer and I shouted across the workshop to the supervisor who was about to make the call, ‘be sure to let them know that it was Keith that got the job done. We couldn’t have done it without Keith’. Within seconds Keith’s attitude changed. He walked taller, was more motivated and more committed. Not just for the next hour but for a long time. I used to make a point, every month, of publically recognising people who behaved in the way we would want them to and very quickly the whole organisation changed.

Pride has to be one of the most effective and simple ways of enhancing performance that I have ever encountered and it feels great too.

Profitability is directly correlated to engagement. Engagement is something you can quickly do something about.