says Sean Duffy, CEO, the Wise Group
ASKED if visual impairment was a factor in adding soul to his music, Stevie Wonder said “It could be….I really think that if you really just feel something and you enjoy this thing, you really put soul into it.” That may not sound like much of an answer to the age-old productivity question, but as a source of meaning it is just as relevant to the world of business. Once we align our purpose and contribution with our values, far from being a hinderance, it enriches the rhythm of an organisation and sets it on the soul train to cultural productivity.
Now we are two years into the lived reality of a new, virtual workplace and, far from being soulless, being a purposeful organisation with ingrained cultural productivity is more important than ever. Stepping away from the classic input + output model of productivity there has never been a better time to focus on cultural inputs like trust, values, selection, mindset, attitude, and alignment to fuel our growth. Our cultural productivity, adding up our Purpose, Motivation and Values is more relevant to today’s new employer – employee relationship, and with the right mix, motivation is where we’ll join the soul train and find most discretionary effort taking place.
Not long into the pandemic I began to receive notes from colleagues about their experiences with our approach to cultural productivity saying that our work inspires and motivates them; selecting people who align with our purpose and values has been key. Having colleagues lives and aspirations at the forefront of all our decisions helps ensure they continue to be inspired. Through a ‘Remote First’ approach we can focus on how and what colleagues achieve and avoid falling into the trap of presenteeism. We make clear that the approach is built to enable flexibility that is inclusive and works for the individual so ultimately, we can transform more lives. We expect a lot from our colleagues and so it is crucial that they are well resourced, benefit from our wellbeing package and can shape their own work so they have the greatest impact.
Tracking outputs helps us to make sure we are putting the right fuel in the tank, and ensure the enterprise moves as one. We have too much to lose if we fill the soul train with the wrong fuel, or not enough of it. We have too much to lose when we fail to fully resource the wellbeing and motivation of our colleagues. For cultural productivity to work we must seek the full journey. If we remain accountable solely to the numbers, the emissions of the train, then we are less likely to get the outcomes that society needs. The numbers or emissions are important but what ensures the emissions are the best they can be?
On our journey it’s the people and the culture in which they work that decides the rhythm, the fuel that makes the soul train ride the rails. Trust, kindness and resourcing our people keeps that train serviced to keep rolling at its best, journey after journey. The history of productivity can repeat itself. But with a focus on purpose and values, we can inject the soul back into cultural productivity.
The Wise Group is a leading social enterprise working to lift people out of poverty. We build bridges to opportunity for the most vulnerable in our society through mentoring support, employment, skills, and energy advice.