Create Workplaces That Empower People to Grow

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Over the past decades, we’ve discovered that we don’t motivate people, rather people are self-motivated to meet their needs and respond to incentives that reward them. As leaders, it means understanding people’s key needs and creating workplaces that empower people to take actions to reap the rewards that make the most sense for them.

Susan Fowler, in her book

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…And What does: the New Science of Leading, Energizing and Engaging, identifies three categories of psychological needs that people should be empowered to satisfy:

We’ve all heard of the “work-life balance”; it’s the process of focusing your attention at the office on work and family/personal life issues at home. In today’s almost-always-connected world, most people find it hard to implement. The reason is that the concept is limiting, creating a zero-sum game, in which we’re limiting time spent at one to gain more achievement of the other.

At our Vistage CEO groups, we often talk about the solutions we use: work-life integration – a concept that focuses on abundance – the ability to optimize time, regardless of where we are, to achieve both. As Dr. Tracy Brower notes in Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations, this approach is good for leaders, employees and their companies, because it improves attraction and retention, employee engagement, productivity, cost savings and brand.

Facilitating the ability to optimize time, are corporate practices that allow employees to make choices about when, where, and how they work. In our virtual and global economy, this is made
possible by the use of flex time, technology, training and development, especially mentoring.

If you want to implement practices within your company to increase people’s work-life integration, consider these steps:
• Create a vision and purpose for the company that’s consistent with the ones people set for themselves. People want to be part of something larger than themselves, and through integration, are able to achieve both.
• Focus on performance. Set performance objectives and hold people accountable for the results, not for logging in a certain number of hours at the office.
• Be creative. Encourage people to use their creative energies whenever and wherever the inclination hits to solve problems affecting work and life.
• Build strong teams. With effective collaborators to rely on, everyone has more flexibility about how they use their time and for what they take responsibility.
• Model the way. Not everyone feels comfortable with work-life integration, especially after years of trying to balance the two, often unsuccessfully. Inspire them by showing the way.

How effective are you at work-life integration? What practices work best to facilitate the effort? Share your experiences and lessons learned with us.