Holistic Leadership

5 Things Employees Need to be at Their Best

Posted on Updated on

02b22c8

By Jim Funk

Group of business people.

People love hearing the words, “You did a great job on that project!” Most people want to do a good job, and are willing to work hard to do their best. But in the world of work, the reality is that it doesn’t always happen. Why? Certain circumstances play a role in how engaged employees are in their jobs, and these factors impact performance.

I believe that enabling employees to do their best boils down to the ability to meet 5 important needs:

  1. To be treated as a whole person – body, mind and spirit. People want to be recognized for who they are, and not simply a set of skills or productivity numbers. They bring their whole selves to work, and need some degree of nurturing and expression in each of the dimensions of the human person: physical, intellectual, spiritual, social, and leisure.
  2. To be treated fairly. Policies and practices provide clarity regarding expectations, and they help ensure that people will be treated fairly. But as everyone knows, a policy manual doesn’t provide answers to every situation. Leaders must be able to make decisions that are just. Don’t get me wrong, everyone won’t always agree with every decision a leader makes, but all decisions should be supported by a rational explanation.
  3. To have safety, security and trust. The workplace must be one that feels safe and secure, with ready access to assistance if a safety or security issue arises. But more than physical safety and security, employees in this day and age seek job security. People need to feel the organization’s leaders can be trusted to keep their word, and communicate with honesty and transparency, especially as it relates to job security. When layoffs are expected or people are let go, they should be told the truth and assisted in making the transition.
  4. To have a thriving community at work. By definition we could say that any work group is a community of people. But a thriving community is one in which people are individually and collectively at their best because the work culture recognizes the importance of relationships and teamwork. Competition between teams can also be healthy, and fun!
  5. To have meaning in their work. While work is certainly a means to making a living, people need to feel that their work makes a difference in the world. Further, there is an inherent dignity in work because it allows the person to become more fully who he or she is. People need to feel that their talents and skills are being used, and want to be given the opportunity to grow and develop so that they can reach their full potential. 

When these 5 needs are met, people feel more fulfilled and more committed to doing their best work for the organization. It might seem obvious, but what does it really take to meet these needs? First of all, organizations whose values include statements like, “a great place to work,” or “people are our most valuable asset,” must be able to live up to those and not just give lip service. Leaders who understand these needs and intentionally work to meet them are what make the difference. I would call this “holistic leadership,” because the holistic leader treats people as people and not just a skillset or a “human resource.”

What Can Leaders Do?

When I consult with organizations, I recommended that leaders ask each of their employees to write down answers to three questions:

  1. What do you need in order to do your job well and be at your best?
  2. What will it take for you to ask for and get what you need?
  3. What types of rewards motivate you and make you feel appreciated?

I suggest that they keep this sheet of paper in all of their employees’ folders, so when they meet with them or want to reward them they can be more personal and specific in addressing their needs. It works!

Please share any comments, reactions or questions you have about these ideas. If you believe you are working or have worked in an organization with leaders like those I am describing, I invite you to write about it in a reply to this blog or contact me directly. I would like to talk with you. In my next blog post we will look at the business case for holistic leadership, and what difference it can make in terms of actual outcomes.


Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at www.jlfunk.com and www.linkedin.com/in/jlfunk or e-mail him at jim@jlfunk.com.

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Connecting The 3 Ps: People, Productivity and Profits

Posted on Updated on

02b22c8

By Jim Funk

What is most important in your organization? People, productivity or profits? Many people look at the 3 Ps as independent or competing priorities; but what is often misunderstood is the dynamic connection between the three.

People Holding Chart - JLFunk Blog2Let’s say you believe that profits are most important. It’s true that an organization can’t exist for very long without a black bottom line and a good return for shareholders (or financial stewardship in not-for-profits and government sectors). Or, if you say that productivity is most important because without it profits will suffer, that is true as well. Productivity is certainly a key to success.  But productivity doesn’t guarantee profitability or financial stewardship, because there are too many other variables involved.  And high profits may only demonstrate short-term success that could change in the future.

On the other hand, giving people first place in the equation may be altruistic, but it’s also logical. People have the power to do what is required to be productive, generate a profit and manage resources effectively. That’s why people are the foundation of the three Ps. The innate human ability to think, judge and act is the only way to drive business outcomes and reach organizational goals. The variables within people are capability, capacity and motivation. Leaders must attend to all three of those variables, not only in selection, development and recognition, but in the engagement of people in the vision and what it will take to bring that vision to reality.

First and foremost, leaders must make the mission and vision clear and communicate it on a regular basis. Where are we headed and why? When leaders understand people and provide what is needed in order for them to do their best, creativity, engagement and excitement are unleashed both individually and collectively. That energy is what drives increased productivity and innovation. This spreads beyond employees and engages suppliers, partners, affiliates and others, because people want to give their best to an organization and its leaders that give their best to people. This is not simply a “quid-pro-quo;” it is a true energy that cannot be defined by a social or legal contract – and it’s powerful.

Further, customers want to do business with the organization that puts its employees first because they sense and experience what it means to be treated as a person. This in turn increases market share and company profitability. In the not-for-profit and government sectors it increases effectiveness, efficiency and good stewardship of available resources. This is not to say that a sound business plan, strong fiscal management and the market forces of supply and demand don’t play an important part in productivity and profitability – that’s a given. But keeping the person in the center of the business or organization is just as conscious a choice, and is what makes the real difference to both productivity and profits.

Please share any comments, reactions or questions you have about these ideas. If you believe you are working or have worked in an organization with leaders like those I am describing, I invite you to write about it in a reply to this blog or contact me directly. I would like to talk with you. In my next blog post we will look more closely at what people need to be at their best.


Jim Funk is a consultant who helps leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He is passionate in believing that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and driving business results. In addition to his work at J L Funk & Associates, Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. Learn more about Jim’s work at www.jlfunk.com and www.linkedin.com/in/jlfunk or e-mail him at jim@jlfunk.com.

The Power of the Person-Centered Business

Posted on Updated on

02b22c8This is the first of a series of blogs I am writing about what makes people, teams and organizations successful, based on my experiences with clients and my years of working in leadership, organizational development and human resources. I am eager to share what I have learned about successful leaders, and how they got to be the way they are.

My first premise is that people are the heart and soul of any organization. When the person is kept at the center, every single decision that is made considers how people are impacted and whether people, teams and the organization will flourish as a result. There are many mission statements and lists of core values that include a focus on people, customers and service. Isn’t that the same thing as having the person at the center? Well, mission statements and core values are only words. They might represent an intention, or how an organization wants to be viewed by others. But whether the person is truly at the center of the business depends primarily on one thing: the leader’s understanding of people, and what people need in order to be at their best. And when leaders invest in people and their development, ahead of productivity and profits, it actually leads to increased productivity, higher profits, and personal and organizational success.

People have an innate desire and need to develop their human potential, to flourish, and to become who they were made to be. Person-centered organizations not only focus on the customer, but they encourage leaders, employees, associates, partners and suppliers to reach their potential and find meaning in their work. When leaders recognize the gifts and potential in others, and encourage them to fully develop and unleash those gifts, people thrive. People engage.

In addition, the products and services of person-centered organizations serve the common good – because it is good for people. Profit is seen as a means to this end rather than an end in itself. When profit is at the center, people are disposed of when they do not contribute significantly enough to profits, or when they do not meet expectations that may actually be unrealistic. This is not to say that employees, suppliers and partners should not be held accountable for meeting or exceeding expectations. But what is key in the person-centered organization is that people know the expectations and can meet them because they are clearly articulated, well-communicated and achievable. People can connect what they do to the organization’s mission, vision and goals. They have the clarity, support, development opportunities, trust and the desire to pull their weight and contribute. It’s a win-win for people, teams and organizations.

Please share any comments, reactions or questions you have about these ideas. If you believe you are working or have worked in a person-centered organization, I invite you to write about it in a reply to this blog or contact me directly. I would like to talk with you. In my next blog post we will look more closely at the connection between the Three P’s: People – Productivity – Profits.


 

Jim Funk is a leadership and organizational consultant who works to help leaders, teams and organizations discover and develop their full potential. He believes that strong leadership competence combined with the leader’s personal characteristics, values and virtues are key to achieving goals and reaching desired outcomes. In addition to his portfolio of consulting assignments Jim has served on various boards and commissions, and is currently a member of the Economy of Communion in North America Commission. He provides workshops for leaders and is a guest speaker for groups and organizations. Learn more about Jim’s work at www.jlfunk.com and www.linkedin.com/in/jlfunk or e-mail him at jim@jlfunk.com.