Achieving Harmony and High Performance
in the Workplace

by Dinah Daniels

Imagine the perfect business: all employees are self-motivated, delivering top-level performances, and working efficiently and smoothly with office mates and executives alike. Far from being an impossible dream, this type of harmonious and high performing environment is not only achievable; it is becoming essential to a company’s bottom line. Happy, successful employees are not only more productive but also, more likely to remain loyal and present on the job, maximizing efficiency and saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in continuous rehiring and retraining costs.

The key to creating this type of stable, productive workplace is to put employees in charge of their own success. Employees who are empowered to manage their own growth and achievement on the job tend to be more self-satisfied, more cooperative, and more pro-active in trouble-shooting and solving problems. Ultimately, they are more invested in contributing to the organization’s efficiency and bottom line because they know they have the power to affect change within the organization and to promote and control their own career growth.

Fortunately, how to achieve this type of positive and pro-active changeover is not guesswork. We have access to research-based steps and tools to teach employees at all levels how to take personal ownership of job success. The developed steps are geared toward giving employees a clear sense of their personal and professional strengths and weaknesses, and consequently, teaching them how those traits can be leveraged to improve both performance and compatibility on the job.

To gain this awareness, it is important that employees go through the process of evaluating themselves from four different viewpoints: individually; in relation to their job; in relation to their co-workers; and in relation to their organization.

Understanding and Appreciating Assets

Individually, the first essential step is for an employee to gain a deep understanding and appreciation of what makes them unique. Most of us have a general sense of who we are and what we bring to the table simply by virtue of having compiled a professional resume and completed the job application and hiring process. But what many employees don’t have a clear sense of is the multitude of assets and leadership qualities they have acquired, and even refined, through their own life experiences. Perhaps they have served as captain of the football team or managed a fund raising drive in their community -personally motivated roles, which have contributed to their management and leadership skills. By identifying these roles, employees broaden their view of their competencies and at the same time gather a clear sense of what best motivates them naturally, and what types of activities or environments are most conducive to their productivity.

Next comes an even more essential awareness: how their personal and professional assets match with the requirements of their particular job; a valuable process we call “fit/gap analysis.” While most employees are aware they have certain competencies that they were hired for - such as knowledge of a certain type of software, or being able to organize information in a certain way – they often lack a clear sense of how their personal behavioral style may be short-circuiting their job effectiveness or impacting important working relationships. A manager who has an effusive and anecdotal communication style, for example, may energize two members of the project team, but remain unaware that he or she is inadvertently irritating or offending a third. With some fit/gap analysis training, this manager can modify his or her communication style to foster a more positive relationship and consequently promote better efficiency and productivity from the entire team. Likewise, managers who are fully cognizant of their workers fits and gaps can be more effective in hiring and placing employees where they will be most productive and successful. In other words, with this new awareness, they become better, more effective managers.

Maintaining Critical Connections

This fit/gap analysis is one of the most empowering tools an employee can be given to manage their own success. Beyond having a good fit of behavior and skills for the job requirements, an employee must be able to foster and maintain successful relationships with certain key people – the boss, critical team members, people for whom the employee is responsible, external and internal customers - on whom their job success is dependant. These are critical connections that can mean the difference between success and failure on the job. Employees who clearly recognize and understand how their behavioral style is likely to fit with or to challenge the styles of key co-workers, are better able to address and develop strategies to compensate and to improve compatibility.

In addition to knowing and understanding the fits and gaps in workplace relationships, it is important for an employee to evaluate how they fit in with the company culture. Some indicators of a company’s culture are the manner in which decisions are made in the organization; the frequency, style and format of internal communication; and the pace and work ethic of the organization. An effective exercise is to have an employee describe their company’s culture on paper, then compare it against a similar description of an environment in which they imagine themselves or have known themselves to perform best.

Pro-Action for Job Success

In the end, what emerges is a clear picture of what it’s going to take for a particular individual to succeed on the job. The final step is for the employee to draw up a specific action plan to help achieve personal and organizational success. With this newly acquired awareness of their strengths and weaknesses employees can leverage their strengths to accomplish that success as well as devise strategies to bridge gaps where they exist. With this sort of information, employees are not only able to improve conditions and relationships in their current job positions, but also, are empowered to chose and vie for better job positions by recognizing those career areas where their assets are a better fit.

Employee and executive development is a continuous process, not a one-shot project, and no single approach is going to meet the needs of every business. However, experience and research have shown us that investment in this type of training and development is one of the most effective ways companies can improve productivity. Employees at every level who feel empowered to manage their own growth and achievement are more likely to seek strategies for solving those challenges that arise with co-workers and feel more equipped to do so. More importantly, they see themselves as part of the solution, as being able to effect change when necessary, and ultimately, they consider themselves invested in the success of the organization.

Now that is what I call a perfect business!

Dinah Daniels is President and Chairman of PI Worldwide, an international management consulting organization headquartered in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. Using a proven, proprietary management tool known as the Predictive Index®, as well as a flexible suite of skills-based workshops (the Predictive Leadership Series), PI Worldwide helps companies align individual performance with their specific business goals for improved bottom-line performance, productivity and profitability. Contact Dinah by e-mail: and visit .

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Copyright 2001 by Dinah Daniels. All rights reserved.

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