Trust & Self-Determination as a key to success
It isn’t a brand new revelation that satisfied employees are more motivated in their work. Or that employee motivation positively impacts a company’s success. But what makes employees satisfied and motivated? Various movements have been tackling the topic of employee wellbeing for 30 years now.
The oldest and probably best-known study on this topic is already 29 years old and was carried out by John Kotter and James Heskett. In ‘Corporate Culture and Performance’, they state that businesses with strong company cultures and enabled employees perform better than others. Kotter and Heskett were able to use their investigations to prove that company culture has a significant impact on long-term company success.1
Raj Sisodia, Jagh Seth and David B. Wolf chose a different approach: passion. The best companies are driven by passion and enthusiasm, not by money. They help all stakeholders to tap into their full potential. Called ‘firms of endearment’ by the authors, these companies improve the world with their actions, profiting from this. 2
The companies investigated in the book have exceeded the S&P 500 in their performance 14 times over 15 years. Success is based on 8 rules that change a company from the inside out. These include:2
In the Netherlands, one such organisation developed independently in 2006. State care for sick people and the elderly had been optimised so much that staff had to work to a strict schedule and were no longer allowed to take time for their patients. The situation was unsatisfactory for patients as well as care staff. Jos de Blok, one such member of staff, quit his job and founded Buurtzorg. A company made up of small teams without management. All tasks are shared among the carers. They take more time for their patients and help them contact neighbours, friends and family. This means that the care staff help the patients become as independent as possible. Buurtzorg is a success story:
Buurztorg not only fulfils all the rules defined by Sisodia, Seth and Wolf in ‘Firms of Endearment’ but also follows a principle studied by Kotter and Heskett in the ’90s: a company must focus on the needs of customers, staff and stakeholders in order to be successful.1
Frederic Laloux, author of ‘Reinventing Organizations’, reckons that the success of Buurztog is predominantly down to a self-managing organisation culture, supporting his theory with many more success stories.3 This approach has won us over: employees should work out for themselves which methods and tools they need to do their work well. In HR and management, we should not only ask the question ‘how can we make our employees’ work easier?’, but should also ask our employees, ‘how can we make your work easier?’.
The trust placed in employees will be paid back in the form of more satisfaction and motivation. And the notion that satisfied, motivated employees contribute to company success has not only been proven by the studies carried out by Sisodia, Seth and Wolf but also a study by Oxford University in 2019. For 6 months, employees at a BT call centre were asked about their level of satisfaction: when staff were satisfied, they not only worked more quickly but also closed more deals.4
1 31.01.2020: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/21e9/5e29ce4e19867ad302b953519d3e683c5aa4.pdf?_ga=2.19999165.442555228.1612004494-1320331934.1612004494
2 31.01.2020: https://www.firmsofendearment.com/
3 Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux, 2016
4 31.01.2020: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2019-10-24-happy-workers-are-13-more-productive
Published: 12. February 2021