Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Don’t kick the habitOn 1 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Unleashing human potential should be the goal of every HR department, but arecent survey suggests that employees are either indifferent or demoralised bytheir jobs. One way of overcoming this malaise is to revisit The 7 Habits ofHighly Effective People, which having sold more than 10 million copies, sits onmany executive shelves. Author Stephen R Covey outlines why his book should beback at the top of your reading listIncreasing globalisation, with more people working across more continentsmeans that management practices are increasingly becoming a worldwidecommodity. But the global spread of people and ideas is not confined to goodpractices and positive opinions. And with a recent Gallup poll in the UKrevealing that more than 60 per cent of employees there are demoralised bytheir jobs with a further 20 per cent simply not caring about their work,motivating workforces is clearly something that needs to be urgently addressed.The situation is not confined to the UK, however. And if you multiply the £48bnannual cost to the UK economy by the rest of the developed world at least, thescale of the problem becomes clear. With such a situation it is important to consider the employee as a wholeperson with diverse needs for physical, social/emotional, spiritual and mentalwell-being. And this is the challenge for HR professionals, who must considerthemselves as their organisation’s change agent. HR must assess the needs ofemployees and concentrate on their main role, which is helping unleash humanpotential. It is only when companies focus on this approach – creating aculture which values each employee for their individuality, their needs,competencies and potential – that they will they will begin to tackle thedreaded ‘Monday morning blues’. The key to increasing morale and motivation can be found in a provenframework of thinking, which is founded on universal, timeless and self-evidentprinciples. When I wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (firstpublished in 1990) – which are simply a framework of principles – I found that “effectiveness”,whether at home or at work, was key to achieving our hopes, dreams and goals. Effectiveness is simply getting results you want in a way that enables youto get even greater results in the future. Principles of effectiveness lead totrue success – enduring, sustainable and balanced success. Consider theprinciple of trust. Can you have trust without trustworthy behaviour? This is anatural law, which governs our lives, and if broken there are also naturalconsequences. The challenge and opportunity for HR professionals is to assess the currentcondition of their organisation and then to create principle-centred change.Today’s workforce is primarily led by the knowledge worker, and to get thegreatest performance and productivity from such a worker, organisations mustrecognise the heart, mind and soul of this new breed. Peak performers, with few exceptions, are highly self-motivated by a deepand personal sense of mission. Each of us, it seems, has a personal reason fordoing what we do. When HR taps into an individual’s need to fulfill his or herpotential, talents, education, skills and training, then motivation andleadership become self-directed. This is the key to unleashing human potential– tapping into people’s personal energy and creativity and allowing them towork with purpose and meaning. This, of course, cannot come from command andcontrol systems, which suck out personal energy and prevents true humanaccomplishment. Creating a truly empowering and nurturing work environment begins withprinciples, which if consistently adhered to, can bring effective, lastingchange, greater performance and higher productivity. I teach the ‘7 Habits’ – aframework, which embodies principles. You may call them something else, butprinciples of effectiveness share the same roots – they are grounded inbehaviour such as, being proactive or taking responsibility and accountabilityfor self. If followed sequentially and habitually, the seven habits cansignificantly improve the way we approach the pressures of work, ourorganisation and our colleagues without ignoring our own welfare and the needsof those closest to us. The first three habits create the ‘Private Victory’, where individuals learnto master and create their character; the next three teach the ‘PublicVictory’, where individual responsibly creates interdependence with externalrelationships, or at the organisational level. The final habit encouragesrevisiting the previous six on a regular basis. On a global scale, the HR profession must not get bogged down inadministration, relocation, compensation and so forth. It must not forget thatits key role is helping human capital perform. By living these principles themselves, HR professionals can encourageemployees to do the same and together create a principle-centred culture, whichvalues each individual’s contribution. By following the seven habits, thedemoralisation suggested by the Gallup poll in the UK will be dramaticallyreduced and employees will stop going through the motions and instead see thework that they do as mutually beneficial and purposeful for both themselves andthe company. The seven habits1 Be proactiveThis means taking the initiative to act positively to influencea situation. Instead of saying ‘there’s nothing I can do’, say ‘let’s look atthe alternatives’. This should not be confused with arrogance or being pushy.It is simply the recognition that you can influence what happens and it is yourresponsibility to do so. The other six habits all depend on the ability to beproactive – each puts the responsibility and accountability on us to act, toexercise choice.2 Begin with an endin mindAll things are created twice – there is a mental creation,followed by a physical creation. Mental creation is based on the principles ofpersonal leadership or having a goal – what are the things we want toaccomplish? The physical is achieved by managing a process – how will we bestaccomplish these things? But leadership must come first. Management is theefficiency in climbing the ladder to success, but leadership determines whetherthe ladder is leaning against the right wall.3 Put first things firstThis is the step to achieving the physical creation and doingwhat matters most. We can manage our time and activities according to what isurgent/not urgent, important/not important. Effective personal management isgenerally achieved by dealing with those activities that are not urgent but areimportant, such as planning, preparation, writing a personal mission statementand building relationships – those things that we need to do but seldom getaround to doing. 4Think win-winIn the long term, it benefits nobody if one person’s success isachieved at the expense, or exclusion from success, of others. Win-win is the beliefthat there is another alternative, beyond the two extremes of winning orlosing, resulting in agreements and solutions that are mutually beneficial.5 seekfirst to understand and then to be understoodThis is the key to true communication and relationship building– by listening empathetically with the intent to understand others, rather thanwith the intent to reply or contradict. Seeking to understand takes empathy andkindness; seeking to be understood takes patience and courage. Effectivenesslies in balancing the two.6 SynergySynergy is the fruit of mutual respect, the sum of all of theparts and the principle of mutual co-operation and valuing differences. It isabout producing a third alternative – not my way, not your way, but a third waythat is better than either of us would come up with individually.7 Sharpening the sawThe final element of the cycle increases our capacity to liveall other habits of effectiveness by constantly renewing ourselves in the fourbasic areas of life: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. Comments are closed.