May 24, 2011

What's Your Cause?

I attended a meet of HR professionals last week, and the topic being discussed there was attracting and retaining talented employees.

One of the speakers started sharing how difficult it was to retain and promote employees into leadership positions when they don't have "life experiences to lead"

I felt I had to interject then - "That's a fallacy, I think. In the armed forces we have 23 year olds leading large groups in a life and death situation. They don't need 'life experiences' to succeed in leadership roles."

Another speaker then said "But the army is a very hierarchical structure with strict discipline and tradition of following orders without question. That's the reason why, maybe..."

Then I added "Then take examples of activist organizations, like Non Governmental Organizations - people take leadership roles at a young age, do more with less and don't need hierarchical structures to do that"

What was common to both the examples I shared?

Both types of organizations have a larger cause that is always inspiring to the people in it. For the armed forces its a desire to save the country, the regiment, or the pride of the platoon. For the NGO it could be the fight to remove poverty, disease, illiteracy.

Why don't most organizations have inspiring causes?

Having an inspiring cause is IMHO one of the key components of employee engagement - and also customer engagement

Does your company articulate its vision in the form of a cause? Can you share it in the comments below?