Take your personality to work

How many of our decisions are based more on emotion than reason? According to many experts in the field of human potential, the...

How many of our decisions are based more on emotion than reason? According to many experts in the field of human potential, the figure is 100%. A staggering number, I think you will agree. In fact, a number that causes many logical people to become highly emotive!

David Taylor How many of our decisions are based more on emotion than reason? According to many experts in the field of human potential, the figure is 100%.

When I first heard this, I had my doubts. I have since been convinced that emotions do indeed play a huge part in all aspects of our lives. If companies and IT departments took this on board, change management would be far more successful, they would attract and retain more people, and their futures would be far more certain and secure. In short, they would stop being faceless, boring and process-governed.

So-called logical people tell us that we only make emotional decisions outside of work and that, while inside a company, people revert to making decisions based on the right thing to do, on logical conclusions. Presumably we hang our personalities and feelings on the coat-rack in the morning, only putting them on again when it's time to go home!

Take a look around you. You are unlikely to see much emotion. However, it is entirely because people are suppressing their true and inner feelings. Isn't that sad? Inside each and every one of us lies an awesome potential, a huge personality, and a real person, just waiting to be released. It is our inner feelings, our hearts, our very selves, that companies must engage, if they are to thrive.

Let's try an experiment to see this balance between logic and emotion. Imagine if we measured our lives at home the way we do in service level agreements. Next time your partner cooks you a special meal, eat it all up, sit back in your chair, look them in the eyes and say, "Thank you - that was satisfactory, it met my expectations." Please don't hold me responsible for what happens next.

And yet we do this all the time in organisations. We put in place the most reasoned, structured and well planned project teams, and then wonder why they fail. We deliver whatever our business customers want, and then wonder why their perception of us is so low, and we give everything to our teams and companies, only to be measured by tick-boxes once a year.

Hearts, minds and spirits are the key. The year 2000 saw this happen more, but not nearly enough. Scores of books continue to be published on business, IT and change management, most focusing on process, quality and structure. When will business leaders realise that the secret of success is simple: harness, ignite and release the power of people?

The truth is plain to see, and this sets apart those companies that will fail from those that will soar. It is time for all firms to win, release and focus the belief, energy and passion of their people. And it is so easy to do this by cultural transformation, concise and compelling visions, openness and visibility. That's all it takes. Sadly, our companies are still too full of old-fashioned managers who know no better, who are more interested in their pensions and who will do everything to protect the status quo.

Fortunately, times are changing. More companies are waking up their inner powers. These are the true pioneers of a new century. An HR director told me that when people join a company, they do so based on their skills and abilities, and when they leave, they do so because of something to do with who they are. If they are made redundant it is because of their personalities and ability to get along with others. If they resign it is because of an inner ambition unfulfilled. I have written many columns on this subject, and will continue to do so until companies wake up and realise that they are sitting on a massive gold-mine of unfulfilled achievement. We deserve so much more.

David Taylor's Inside Track, a provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is published by Butterworth Heinemann Tel: 01865-88180

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