If any of you reading this blog have brought up children you may recall (or even currently experience) your three-year old toddler repeatedly asking the question “why?” It can feel frustrating as a parent persistently answering this question…nevertheless it’s a key stage in your child’s development.
However, it’s not only a crucial question for child development: new American research demonstrates a correlation between answering the question” why” for employees and improved organisational performance.
Adam Grant of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, has completed organisation research demonstrating productivity doubled when workers understood why they were doing their job. The idea of the organisational ‘Golden thread’ is not new – however this research mapped worker productivity and workers’ understanding of their environment. Grant’s research has been based on studies in call centres, telephone donation companies and lifeguards at leisure centres. In all three tests cases employee productivity markedly improved when those employees clearly understood why they were performing allotted tasks.
Daniel Pink, author of ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ notes two simple steps involved with handling the killer question:
Step 1 – find out whether people in your team even have a “why” – i.e. what’s the purpose of this organisation?
Step 2 – at weekly employee meetings spend a few minutes revitalising the question and discuss your efforts on other people’s lives.
After this all should be pretty straightforward in public service…why not give it a go?