How we view our differences is a missing ingredient!

When you wake up in the morning are you excited to get to work? As you shower are you already thinking about all the good work you are going to do that day? Does your heart open in joy when you think about the camaraderie at work? Do you tell your friends and acquaintances how great your job is and how wonderful it is to work there? Do you bring your all with you to work? Or, do you leave parts of yourself behind? How committed and engaged are you—really?

The primary valuation of a company is its people. According to the Human Capital Institute only 25% to 55% of employees are engaged. Committed employees are not only 25% more productive, adding to a company’s valuation, common sense says that they are also less likely to be surfing It’s interesting to note that 90% of managers believe that people leave because of money but the top three reasons people actually leave their jobs are a lack of challenging work, little opportunity to grow and develop, and poor management relationships. So it seems, contrary to some opinions, people want to be engaged.

It is a question human resource managers have been struggling with for decades. How do we create job satisfaction? Better, more comprehensive questions would be, how do we help employees find delight, delight that’s foundational for satisfaction, productivity, full-on engagement and commitment? In other words, how does the organization facilitate workplace evolution that feeds each employee’s sense of sheer delight, nurtures their passion, and makes them know they are blessed to be a part of such an amazing organization?

An organization’s response to these questions is critical to their unstoppability—their overall long and short-term viability. 70% of organizations say that they have an insufficient pipeline of talent for critical jobs. According to 2007 CEO Briefing, attracting and retaining talented people is one of the top five issues facing organizations today. The cost of working without just one key player is estimated at $7000 a day. By 2010 it is projected that there will be a shortage of 10 Million employees in the United States alone because of several factors, boomer retirement, among them. Even though 70% of organizations are already struggling to fill critical positions, the fight for talent is just heating up! That’s good news for employees and on the surface, not so good for the organization.

Organizations that find the secret ingredient to cultivate full-on engagement and true delight in going to work each day will be able to cure multiple ills. As they race to find the cure, many facets of organizational life have the opportunity to bloom. When employees engage, productivity and delight naturally grow. Engaged employees attract other individuals who desire to be productive and engaged. It’s not surprising that studies show top talent tends to cluster together. Delighted and engaged people are less at risk for stress and stress related illnesses (think medical savings), in fact, they understand that stress is self-inflicted and know better than to dampen their delight.

So what is it that delivers workplace delight besides an upcoming vacation? One possible answer might surprise—our differences! Differences are something we hide, something we work to overcome, and something at which we often inwardly cringe. We find comfort in people just like us. We cluster together naturally. We find safety in us versus them. But, our differences also supply the ‘juice’ that can energize an organization and life in its many facets.

How do we inspire delight in all employees, from the janitor to the CEO? How do we get each one to take the internal steps toward self motivation, for that is the source of true and lasting delight? It is the missing link, the secret ingredient that keeps people engaged and committed. The company cannot provide this internal spark, except (huge except) to provide the necessary coaching to inspire people to do this internal work. The skeletons of past organizational attempts to create job satisfaction demonstrate this is true. Once the internal work has begun, it provides the internal framework, think of it as the real infrastructure of the company, a foundation that lives within the people and is shared between them. It is the basic step.

Coaching classes would include everyone within an organization, preferably done as a whole so people see, hear, relate, and find insights together. In this way, they start to bridge and break down differences. First, an understanding that we are in this boat together must be set. Yes, the boat is rocky and the waves steep amid all these differences, but from this awareness an organization can traverse the waters when we get in the boat together.

When we see ourselves as part of something larger than our individual self, as being together, can we begin to see the power in our differences. Until this point we are separate and different, individuals each requiring protection and defense. Once everyone is on board, diversity is bridged back in naturally. From a position of non-defense, we can recognize, embrace and see the unique value and purpose in each person’s natural style — what was previously seen as an irreconcilable difference.

In business, what is needed is a quick means for people to stop acting in-authentically, a system of self checks and balances. When employees identify their primary style and comprehend how to honor it, it is the turning point for organizations and creates a shift from fragmentation to integration. Honoring our primary style means that each person chooses to be authentic, to come from a place of wholeness rather than reverting to the fearful default regardless of situation or stress. We learn to hold our primary style around people of different styles and honor the differences in the process.

How do we create a fluid system where all are honored, allowed to ask questions, voice opinions, where no one is demeaned and the floor is held open? We remove the fear that prevents us from holding the space for each other, in honor, in a system of equal exchange that promotes growth and new ideas. We find creative ways to praise authenticity rather than ideas perceived as valuable. This makes room for all ideas, ensuring that engagement doesn’t rest on that one big idea or on proving oneself and free people of the need to act outside of authenticity.

As we learn to honor each other, we create a productive, supportive work environment free of back-biting, gossip and sacrificed integrity. Instead we develop an environment where people end the stage show and come to work, not to put on a soap opera, a facade or mask, but come to work to work and play, simply by being who they are. We sweep the floor of the stacks of boxes we asked people to fit into to do their jobs. We open the floor, clearing a path of non-judgment. New ideas, new connection, new commitment, new delight springs forth naturally. We set sail together, each knowing the role to play, each recognizing the value of others, and as one, the organization moves full speed ahead.

Author's Bio: 

Gayle Gregory is a co-author of “The Grand Experiment, an Expedition of Self-Discovery” and author of soon to be released “Workplace Evolution: Common Sense for Uncommon Times”. She is a former senior manager with two Fortune 500 companies, United Parcel Service and Household Financial, and the founder of Pure Possibility, a coaching and mentoring program that works with individuals and within the Oregon State Corrections system. Most recently she co-founded Workplace Evolution (WE), a resource bank of leading edge consultants whose mission is to catalyze organizational potential and nurture innovative workplaces. WE provides integrated solutions that benefit the organization, its individuals, and society as a whole.