PILOT POST by Gary J. Xavier, Founder & Workforce Designer - The Blade Group LLC
BLOG GROUND RULES
This is the workforce performance blog and it is committed to sharing ideas of how workers and leaders can create an inspired workforce culture. It is also here to understand the good, the bad, the ugly and the fugly of the status quo. There is ONE rule for both readers and for me:
THE READER RULE
QUESTION EVERYTHING: As if you weren’t going to! If we don’t debate, then I didn’t ask a good enough question or I’m posting too many arbitrary pictures of sunsets. I am here to learn from you and share what I learn from others. I also desire to share the chaos that is my thought pattern. This can’t happen if we don’t debate. If you have an idea you want to share, then become a kung fu contributor and guest post. I’d be happy to see your kung fu. Email me at info (at) garyxavier.com
THE WRITER RULE
DON’T WASTE THEIR TIME: This is an idea forum, not facebook; I will not fall subject to making this discussion robotic or disingenuine (in accordance with reader rule one, you should stomp this out before it goes too far). I will post when it’s necessary to post. If you want speaking date info, promotional info, or product launch offerings then join the ONE WORKFORCE community HERE. I will end this blog if I run out of things to say, experience a pivot or lose sight of the solution we are after.
“Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.” - Winston Churchill - Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1940-1945
“What do you do for work?” I hate that question! I get it at every damn mixer, get together and airplane ride I’m on. What do I do for work? What do they mean? “What do I do for money?” I know they are just asking a simple question and making small talk, but this question spawns a great deal of frustration in me. Since I am a speaker for a living and “What” I do can be rather fluid, I thought my reaction was rooted in insecurity trying to seek a more understandable form of employment. The truth is the question inadequately starts a conversation about work. The question dumbs work down. That is, if you see your work as more than just what you do for money. They should ask the question differently; something like, ”what solution is your work looking for?” Better yet, “What does your work tell us about the future?” Damn! Now, that’s a question.
My name is Gary Xavier. My work tells me the future has two outcomes: one, we fall victim to a highly distracted, short-sighted and deeply selfish workforce. Two, we redesign the way our leaders and workers discover solutions together, so the problems that need solving get solved. My work is committed to one idea: mobilizing one workforce. One workforce with one focus: doing what is required. My product is the spoken & written word. My height is 5’6”. My sign is Taurus and my favorite movie is RAD....mucho gusto.
You may be thinking, "Great! Another world saving blow hard!" You may be right. I am not here to tell you you're wrong. I’m here to ask you, “what solution is your work looking for?” “What does your work tell us about the future?” If you get annoyed by this question or don’t have time for this question, I would argue that you are doing work NOT worth doing. You are wasting your time. News flash, time is all you have and your wasting it.
What work is worth doing? Work worth doing is when your company’s mindset aligns with your own. There are two types of corporate and individual mindsets: ENSLAVEMENT & FREEDOM. I know this sounds black and white, but there are actually four possible combinations...thank you exponents:
The company is subject to strict regulation or extreme changes in market conditions. The worker and leader may have been free in the beginning, but the resulting regulation and market conditions have hardened the energy of the worker. They are dying and they all know it. They just hope they can cash in their retirement before the ship sinks. An example would be The US Postal Service
When a company creates uniformity with it’s partners to create a standard product regardless of the local context. Innovation is slow. Marketing is contrived. The worker get’s involved because the company promises independence, but it's not even close. It sounded like a good idea to get corporate level support, but the truth is, the business is deeply disingenuine, you receive very little support and only the worker knows it. An example would be most franchises
When a company begins to grow quickly and sees itself as a large corporation, but starts to oppress the workforce with more processes and metrics to protect the C-suite or executive team. Workers are thrust into a process and metric driven environment when they were around during the startup years, typically a solutions-driven environment. People start to leave more often then they come in. An example is Tough Mudder (NY) or Entercom Radio
Workers and leaders work together to enhance the inside culture and the customer culture. Workers and leaders drive innovation. Market conditions are not the concern, because the culture is based on finding solutions from all levels of the org. Examples are companies like Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Pike Place Fish Co.
Now, which mindset do you and your company have? I did not say that any of these are bad. You may love the spiraling out of control environment that is The US Postal Service. You may love the fact that you are employee number three at Tough Muder. What matters is does your mindset or DNA match. Does your company provide you adequate pay for you to take care of your family? Do they give you vacation when needed? Do they consider virtual work, so you can be home with your children? Do they ask you to strategically think through problems the company faces? If so, and you are still miserable, YOU have an enslavement mindset issue. You created this issue . It could be a combination of reasons between health, finances, a loss or depression. Either way, it’s there and you won’t be able to do the work that’s worthy of your effort until you acknowledge this discrepancy and move the hell on.
People think they function like money does because money or capital flows to where it gets the biggest return. A friend of mine recently told me a young person interviewing for a job at his company said, “Initial earnings are an indicator of future earnings.” What this person is really saying, “how can I give you my best efforts, if you are unwilling to provide me the freedom to focus on our work here?” She was trying to act like money, but she really wanted freedom. Money is quite content just being money. Whether it gets whored out around the world or stays in your wallet, It’s equanimous. Humans, however, seek connection. We care who we work for. We care what others think. We care that our work matters. If companies don’t touch on these points, people will start to act like money. That young person wanted the freedom to feel as though they could give their best effort.
When you give a worker the freedom both financially and culturally to give their best effort, situations happens like the Market Basket strike. Workers from the Boston grocery chain went on strike when they learned their CEO, Arhthur T. was suddenly fired. Without a union, the workers instantly quit going to work. Customers posted receipts on the windows of Market Baskets all over Boston from other stores where their money was spent. This group united for one idea, not one man. They united because Arthur T. represented freedom. Arthur T. was a symbol. He certainly embodies the leadership qualities of legend. He new employees by name. He would help bag groceries. Arthur T. was a good leader, but he made sure his employees felt a part of an inspired workforce. He made sure his employees saw their work meant something for the future and he was right on. The work of bagging and tagging and carrying and loading all came down to the moment when a group of employees stood up to a billion-dollar board and demanded their CEO back. And they did. Arthur T. was allowed to buy a controlling interest in the company. I bet when those people are asked, "What do you do for work?" They say, I belong to a community of courageous people. Remarkable.
Would you quit your job or go on strike if your boss were fired? Would they do the same for you? The answer is probably no. If the answer is yes, call me, I'll fill out an application. These leads back to the original question. “What solution is your work looking for?” OR “What does your work tell us about the future?” Remember, you are armed with something very lethal: your presence. Humans must be a part of the workforce in order to solve any issue. People will win the battles. That's why in peace time, we must train and we must care for everyone inside the organization. Otherwise, your company is doomed to fall. Machines cannot replace human problem solving yet...at least not until 2029...
If you find yourself doing work that is so repetitive in nature that a machine could do it, then it’s time to challenge the design of that work. Why would a company want you where a machine could be? Why would you want to do the work a machine can do? There will be fallout from this; Technological Unemployment has been a concern since the early 19th century when textile workers called the luddites protested against labor replacement machines. The point is: arm yourselves! The workforce disruption is going to require people to ruffle feathers. Can you ask more from your leaders and not get fired? Can you ask more from your employees and not see a mass exodus? It will require more from leaders. It will require more from workers. Most of all, it will require the strength of character to simply do what is necessary and not what is convenient. However, we need to begin asking ourselves, “Am I here to merely remain employed until a machine or more money take me away or am I here to expand my capacity, my abilities, my influence on the solutions we seek?"