When employees act like encrypted smartphones – series 2 of 2

This is fact – employee encryption is a problem that won’t go away soon. It’s a human thing that relates so very well to the engineering of the smartphone. We will call it for purposes of this series 2, human internal-mechanics. It’s like mechanics in math where manipulating forces produces motion.  When the internal-mechanics of employees are in order, positives forces become evident, and high productivity accrues to the firm.


In series 1, we made it clear that companies attain signature value-creation and sustainability, by upping the ante for human effectiveness drivers. And that nothing at the modern corporation has the influence on productivity, as humans being effective at what they do.  Positive force drives personal effectiveness. Negative force also drives effectiveness, but quickly brings about a feeling of being sated

Yes, some managers have chosen to hack employees than correctly win them over. To certain managers, employee hacking is justified – we will reserve judgement for now on the latter issue.  What we know is that hacking employees can’t be the norm. It should be used very sparingly; it ought to be a weapon of last resort.

Managers that habitually hack employees have not made the OD. investment required to create the appropriate:

(i) work environment
(ii) systems to seamlessly generate value and wealth or impact for the owners
(iii) and a management culture that ensures seamless access to the inside of a particular employee or team

The above three factors are the password to decrypting employees. We know that the three factors don’t come cheap; it takes unique leadership skills and chunks of time to institutionalise all three variables.  It requires a lot of OD. conceptualisation-effort, analysis, and planning for the three keys to become the norm in the organisation.

Modern managers working under pressure to meet deadlines and faced with extremely aggressive competitors have no time for employee niceties. They want the job done most efficiently. Effectiveness and efficacy, apparently, have no place in their management toolbox.

For OD. gurus, the above is an absurdity.  Because being efficient but not effective especially on matters to do with people, may bring positive bottom-line results, but only in the short term. Longterm and sustainable success accrues when efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately efficacy are looked at as one package. The approach has to be holistic. Anything other than a comprehensive approach simply causes employee encryption and undermines employee productivity.  A no-brainer one would imagine, but apparently, it’s not.

What are the implications for the modern corporation of having increasingly encrypted and scrambled employees?

Psychological safety’ as opposed to team skills diversity and intelligence, is the number one requirement for team performance optimisation. Of course, teams require a certain level of intelligence and skills diversity to function well; however, that is not the make or break of team productivity, it is ‘psychological safety’ – i.e. a group culture that the Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson defines as a ‘’shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ … ‘‘It describes a team climate characterised by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’

HR practitioners grappling with subtle, yet critical ‘people and culture’ matters at the modern organisation, are yet to understand the implications of ‘psychological safety’ on the productivity of teams. HR practitioners and other managers continue to pay lip service to the subject of ‘psychological safety’; yet it is fundamental to team performance optimisation. The litmus test for us all is asking ourselves the question:

‘How many of us, in the most direct terms, consider ‘psychological safety’ a key determinant of team productivity?

The new HR paradigm:

How many HR units can dare think of stuff like decrypting employee internals? Not many, we assume. Then, how can HR gurus sustain the quantum leap from hiring warm bodies to merely fill the factory floor and offices, to: hire, create and maintain warm and brand-connected individuals? We aren’t sure that that the traditional HR function can accomplish the latter.

HR management should pay attention to the psychology of human beings at work. And by the way, it’s not only for HR practitioners to understand the psychology of humans at work, but also, to pass on such learning and practice to the other managers.

Managers should learn, appreciate and practice human psychology management at work. More often than not, HR practitioners keep such skills to themselves and do not acknowledge the need to seed new skills at the manager level as well as to the broader rank and file in the organisation. HR should embrace an approach that mainstreams critical HR practices in all functions at work.

This new HR paradigm disdains employee hacking by managers. Hacking employees is akin to housebreaking. And it’s a well-known fact that houses that have been broken into are violated places of abode and are not pleasant living in.

As elaborated earlier in this series, a manager can get coarced access to the mental circuitry of the employee and can put pressure on the employee to get a certain amount of productivity. However, in situations like this, employers only get minimum productivity from employees. This minimalist paradigm deprives the owners of significant value and wealth creation.

So, don’t hack employees; merely get the psychology of employee productivity management right. Use the three right keys to decrypt your staff.

HR managers, please lead us all!

Categories: People

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