I have a dream for SA in 2017…

JANUARY 9, 2018

For many of us W.O.R.K is just another four-letter word – a sad reality – but not one that is beyond our sphere of influence.  I would love to see dramatic changes in the South African workplace where leaders evoke more P.L.A.Y., trust, love, purpose, strength, progress, and practice. Yes, at work!

 That’s my dream. Not because it sounds good…but because it actually delivers more aligned, passionate and loyal organisations. The latest research from neuro- and behavioural science proves that there’s a giant disconnect between what science shows and what business does. In fact many of the practices that are de rigeur for business (incentives, performance management, increased focus on compliance) are scientifically proven to demotivate, demoralise and break down the human spirit.

It should come as no surprise that 87% of employees globally are disengaged. Hate their jobs. See work as a life sentence, something to escape from.…one day (which is no doubt, their dream, sadly)…

Recently, I was chatting to someone who had resigned from her big, important, corporate job (and her big, fat, corporate paycheck), and all she could talk about was what a joy it was to wake up every morning and not have to think: “I wonder who is going to try and destroy me today?”

Fear and insecurity are running riot, leaving little room for creativity, imagination and innovation. And it’s on our watch – we as leaders create the environment and it’s up to us as leaders to change it.

Imagine if…

  • Sunday nights –  rather than being a swamp of post Carte Blanche blues – had us soaring with excitement and anticipation about the difference we could make come Monday morning.
  • Traditional “moanfests” around the water cooler, the coffee machine and for some the requisite nicotine stompies, were instead energetic, heated debates about how to take the enterprise forward.
  • People felt valued and openly acknowledged for their strengths, instead of desperately hustling to disguise their weaknesses  – making petty rivalry and one up-manship redundant.
  • The dreaded performance management and incentive systems were finally seen for what they are: inhumane and destructive surrogates for control – cheap charlatans of so-called “leadership.”
  • Numbers were used to celebrate overall progress rather than as “big sticks” constrained to narrow performance parameters.
  • And leaders….(all of us who are in a position to influence another person) – instead of “Sending Out Stuff” ( and hiding out behind a PowerPoint deck, a board pack or a CEO memo – could show up, bravely share our stories and let ourselves be seen. Could say: “I don’t know”, “What do you think?”…and really, really listen to the answers.

Just imagine!

  • Tracey Swanepoel is the founder of Thinkspiration.

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