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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How HR Executives Can Prevent World Revolution

The world economy isn’t growing fast enough and this is starting to cause some serious problems. One issue in particular that comes to mind is revolution. Any number of countries suffering from low economic growth and high unemployment could explode in the next few years.

So how can a human resources executive help save the world -- or at least his or her country? The answer starts right in their own workplace. HR executives can save their countries by building stronger companies. That means helping their businesses get new customers -- or building out the current ones they have.

And there will be plenty of new potential customers in the coming decades. Right now, the world’s GDP is $60 trillion and that figure will grow to $200 trillion in the next 30 years. Simply put, the global economy will have $140 trillion worth of new customers. Competing for those customers will be the “World Cup” for world economic dominance. The winners will enjoy thriving economies and workplaces. The losers will face unrest and revolution.

Countries that double the number of engaged employees in every company will be best positioned to win the World Cup for a lion’s share of the $140 trillion in new customers.

Doing so starts with you, HR executive, in your company. And it spreads around the country from there.  When and if your company, and then country, doubles its workforce engagement, only great things will follow: an economic boom, an explosion of innovative ideas, and a surge in entrepreneurship. No country can ramp up ideas and entrepreneurship high enough right now. There are literally trillions of dollars in customer revenue waiting to be won.

Hiring and developing great managers and building up and leveraging the strengths of every individual employee are the two keys to doubling employee engagement. How employees feel about their jobs starts and ends with their direct supervisor. If employees feel, among other things, that their supervisor takes a real interest in their development, or offers frequent praise and recognition, they are very likely to be engaged. Hiring the right managers is absolutely essential to building an engaged workforce. If companies throughout your country hire the right people to lead and actively encourage the engagement of their workforces, economic dominance will be sure to follow.

And great managers already know what decades of Gallup research has revealed: Trying to get employees to fix their weaknesses -- through “360-degree feedback” and “competency models” -- doesn’t work. Weaknesses can’t be developed much at all -- but employees’ strengths can be developed infinitely. The problem is, too many companies focus on fixing weaknesses, and this only breeds non-engagement or worse, active disengagement. No company or country will win the economic World Cup with this approach.

Great managers build development plans around every single employee’s strengths. When employees work from strengths, nothing motivates to them to achieve more -- not money, not love, not vacations, not good benefits, not company volleyball games, not motivational speakers. And employees working from their strengths do win new customers.

There are many tests and assessments out there that help companies uncover their employees’ talents and strengths. The best and most famous in the world is Gallup’s own Clifton StrengthsFinder, an online assessment that reveals an individual’s “top five” talent themes out of a total of 34. Talent themes include Achiever, Competition, Learner, Strategic, and Relator, among others. As an HR executive, you play an essential role in doubling your company’s employee engagement. Only HR can hardwire strengths-based thinking throughout the organization and ensure that your business hires the right people to be managers. Do your job right, and you’ll save not only your company, but help your country to thrive -- and win the World Cup for $140 trillion in new customers.

A version of this post first appeared in HRM Asia.


Anonymous said...
November 21, 2012 at 5:41 AM  

Mr. Clifton, have sent this to some HR folks I've been working with in my company. Doing my best to get SF2.0 in the hands of all our managers, and our 400,000 employees. I'm holding a global strengths webinar (internal) in December and we have nearly 6,000 people enrolled. But it's only a band aid unless we have commitment from HR and have great managers in place. On the other hand, we have to start somewhere. Thanks for the excellent article.

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