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We want to tell you a story. It’s one of our favourites here at HR360 Ltd: There are 3 workers on a construction site. When a bystander asks each of them what they are doing, the first worker says, 'I am laying bricks'; The second says ' I am constructing a wall' and the third says: 'I am building a cathedral'.
Three workers, three different attitudes, all doing the same job. Sound familiar in your company? Like all great stories, there is a moral to be learned. So, what messages can we take from this when it comes to hiring and managing talent in organisations?
Finding the diamonds in the rough
Often, we come across bricklayers and wall-builders in companies and teams; those who go to work every day to achieve their 9-5 and receive a paycheck at the end of the month. Their work is consistent and you can rely on them to get the job done. It is likely these types of employees make up the majority (let’s say 80%) of an organisation's workforce. The rarer finds (say 10%) are the cathedral builders – those who have a sense of purpose in the work that they do; who understand how their job relates to the company's mission so that they can actively partake in the company's culture. It is common to hear employees' express frustration that they're not finding meaning in their work; that they don’t feel challenged or have the power to change the environment they are in. This often occurs when bricklayers and wall-builders are only encouraged to keep the company going, while the cathedral builders are encouraged to take the company forward.
This begs the question: Are cathedral builders really that scarce a talent pool that we should count ourselves lucky to have found? Or can we uncover more 'diamonds in the rough' in the 80% pool of bricklayers and wall-builders too? And realistically, who is responsible for sourcing and unlocking this potential?
The moral of the story
This story teaches a fundamental lesson; the ability to derive purpose from our job is what brings meaning and joy to our work and life. The cathedral builder is responding from a place of empowerment. He or she represents those employees who understand why they go to work every day and how their work supports - and more importantly, is supported by leadership - in achieving this. As leaders, this is the kind of environment we should all be striving for. These are the types of conversations we should be engaging in - with our entire workforce, not just the 10% high performers.
Everybody has a context, a history, a worldview – a story. Through real-time dialogue, leadership can learn what drives their talent pool and what is holding them back and use this knowledge to propel bricklayers and wall-builders towards cathedral builder status. Whether you are a hiring manager, a team leader, a CTO, an Executive Director - if you are in a position of influence, your goal needs to be to identify the necessary level of engagement required for every type of worker within your organisation, in order to challenge them, to increase productivity and to unlock potential. After all, leadership is about understanding what enhances and hinders performance and then implementing the relevant actions that will inspire greatness in all your people.
Are you inspiring bricklayers or cathedral builders in your organisation?
Here’s a grim stat: More than half of your staff is ready to leave the company, finds a recent Gallup poll. Vacancies impact the productivity and bottom line of your company, but a survey from Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute uncovered a reason people stick around. When asked the question, “What makes you stay at your company?” the number-one answer, representing 32% of respondents, was, “My job–I find the work meaningful.”