Voltage: a.k.a. Potential difference or electric tension
I started the Rightshifting campaign out of a concern for the enormous waste of human potential in knowledge-work organisations just about everywhere. Waste I had seen myself, in over twenty-plus years of working in and with a wide variety of knowledge-work organisations.
Not much has changed even today, it seems. Organisations continue to obsess about “utilisation” – making sure all their employees are busy, busy, busy. And continue to fail to use anything like the full talents, experience and know-how of their people.
I’m not talking here about the waste from the organisation’s perspective: “get as much out of folks as possible” or “sweat the assets”. I’m talking about the waste of human potential from the perspective of the folks involved. i.e. “Be all you can be”.
People like to give of their best. A massive, twenty-five year Gallup survey involving more than eighty thousand managers and one million staff demonstrates as much. Far too few organisations even begin to make this possible:
“Over the years, as I’ve worked with various groups of corporate leaders, I’ve asked the following question: “To what degree does your organization actually utilize the experience, skills and knowledge you possess?” I’ve posed that question periodically for the past 35 years and the answers have been extremely consistent. People say something like: “Oh, about 40% of my talents and skills are being utilized.” Now, this is admittedly a non-scientific, non-rigorous appraisal of leader productivity. I make no attempt to suggest that it is precisely accurate. However, I would argue that it contains a powerful message and a huge opportunity for most organizations.”
~ Jack Zenger
Here, Jack Zenger is talking about the responses of senior executives. How much more potential is wasted of people with less of a grip on the reins of power?
I can attest to this personally, too. I have rarely been in situations where it’s been even possible for me to give of more than around twenty percent of my potential.
If you think it’s not happening in your organisation, right now, you’re probably very sadly mistaken.
“Perhaps our organisations should be asking questions such as the following:
- How could our organization better utilize the talents, experience and knowledge you possess?
- What’s getting in the way of you making the biggest contribution to this organization that you could possibly make?
- What could we change that would enable you to make the contribution you’d like to make to this organization?”
How about you? To what degree does your organization actually utilize the experience, skills and knowledge you possess? I’d love to hear from you.