Monday, February 22, 2010

People — Why We Do What We Do

People's imaginations inspire their actions. They act positively when they see themselves positively—when leaders set a positive stage.

Aperson's behavior follows their imagination and their desires. We may not often notice that imagination precedes our actions, because so much of what we do is routine and familiar—the imagination step is unconscious. For example when we casually pick up our cup of coffee, we forget that as a tiny infant we first had to consciously imagine closing our hand around the mug handle, before attempting the difficult lift.

Imagination and the Power of Choice

In our imagination we choose what we will do. Then we do it.

We normally practice in our mind a difficult or unfamiliar task before attempting the real thing. Recall how you prepared for your first annual performance evaluation, or gave your first progress report to the company's executive committee.

Sports coaches know it is imagination that leads to action. They ask players to practice the game in their mind. "Imagine the follow through on your (golf) swing.”

In our imagination we choose what we will do. Then we do it.

We Choose Our Attitude

Every moment, everyday a person chooses their attitude, whether to be productive or not, to be creative or not, to be cooperative or not, to be timely or tardy, to stay or to leave. In a well-developed company culture, a person imagines bringing more of himself to the task. Then they do.

In an underdeveloped company culture, a person imagines being less engaged. Then they are.

Most people want to contribute creatively to the organization's success. They want to have a good day, feel productive, be recognized for their achievements, and go home looking forward to returning to work the next day. Leaders can create a culture where people imagine themselves open and deeply engaged, bringing their full energy to the task.

If People Can't Satisfy Their Desires at Work, They May Disengage, or Even Worse!

Almost everybody wants to be creative, productive, and involved. If the work culture does not ask for this most people readily accommodate. However, when a person conforms to a culture that asks him to do something other than what he wants, he will feel the dissonance. This may lead to frustration. He may then look for another job. If he stays, he may behave unproductively.

The usual way people respond to a poorly developed company culture is by withdrawing their energy, creativity, and responsibility. Some people become actively resentful, or passive-aggressive, withholding information essential to the organization's success. In a hostile work environment, a person may even retaliate by sabotaging operations, or, in extreme cases becoming homicidal.

Disengagement Is Very Expensive

You can measure the cost of low employee morale and motivation when you see the increased productivity when a company actively develops its culture. Productivity increases anywhere between 10 and 100 percent.My experience over 26 years is that productivity increases anywhere between 10 and 100 percent. This number is also the lost productivity in those companies with an underdeveloped culture. Nationally this is a large number, certainly in the hundreds of billions of dollars, probably in the trillions annually.

Developing a company culture where people imagine themselves an excited, caring, engaged and valued team player, is an easy, low-cost way for leaders to make major jumps in company performance, stepping well ahead of the competition.

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