“Talent Wanted: Dead … or Alive!”

Kevin was taught to create a detailed plan for his team and then work the plan. However, what looked good on a spreadsheet – a team that ran like a finely tuned Swiss watch — quickly began to break down. Now, Kevin was a smart manager. When productivity was sluggish, he greased the wheels with fresh incentives.  When a consultant made recommendations for new efficiencies, he tightened the reins. But when he began to lose valuable team members who sought more fluid, dynamic, and creative opportunities elsewhere, Kevin knew he needed a new approach.

4948070255_338e65de13_bThere are many managers caught in the same trap as Kevin. You probably know some who approach their organizational design mechanistically. They think of people in their firms like boxes in an organization chart. They want to align all of the parts and drive results from the top down. With such an inert view, is it any wonder that Gallup polls report employee engagement scores in the U.S. hover around a miserable 30 percent? There’s a lot that doesn’t fit in a box.

You can see the problem. Talent is not dead. It is not inanimate. It does not thrive in a mechanical environment.

Kevin needed to embrace his team as an organism. After all, the words organism and organization share the same root. When Kevin was able to see his team as a living, breathing, learning, adapting, growing organism, he started to manage differently. He saw problems not as breakdowns, but as opportunities to grow, to encourage people to take charge of their talent, and find ways to embrace and engage the diversity of skills, interests, and passions in his team.  He let go of the need to funnel people and projects through his design. Instead, he worked with them to gain shared understandings of what they hoped to accomplish and together they laid out clear objectives and opportunities for team members to bring their hopes and talent to the endeavor. Now, Kevin sleeps better, his team members enjoy pulling together, and the business grows profitably.

Kevin was able to make a shift in his mindset, and he, his team, and his firm benefitted. He moved from a mechanistic mindset to an organic one. He no longer wants talent “Dead or Alive.” Now he engages it to be fully and dynamically alive.

Take some time to listen to how you and others in your firm talk. Observe the way you and others approach problem solving. Try to feel the pulse of the team. Are you stuck in a dead mechanism or is your firm a live organism? Make the shift and enjoy the results.

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