Part Eight of ten blogs using films to illustrate the feelings organisations should try to evoke in employees in order to create a high performance organisational culture.
Number 8 – Fulfilled
The dictionary defines fulfilment as ‘bringing something into effect’. It also explains that it’s ‘a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved something you’ve desired’. So in an organisational context it can be described as employees feeling good about delivering their objectives. That’s personal fulfilment. But leaders in organisations should hope that in addition to the personal satisfaction, they also feel good about the contribution they are making to the success of the organisation as a whole. Because caring about the wider organisation is an illustration that they care about it and are connected to it.
I’m going to focus on two of the things which must be in place to create an environment in which employees feel both these things. Firstly, employees must have clarity about what successful delivery of their objectives means. Objectives must be clear and concise, with clear measures of success. They should understand in advance what successful delivery of them means. If it’s not clear, don’t be surprised if motivation to achieve seems low. I sometimes think managers word artfully vague objectives intentionally so that they have the power of determining whether their employee has succeeded or not. Another common cause of low motivation is to set the objective so high that the employee feels there’s no point trying to achieve it because it’s just not achieveable. Either way, the organisation suffers because of low levels of motivation.
Secondly, individuals should understand how their objectives align with and contribute to business objectives. They should know that achieving their objective contributes to the success of organisational objectives. If they have an objective which can’t be linked to a wider business objective then it does beg the question why they’re doing it at all! This line of sight between individual and organisational objectives is a key part of connecting individual employees with the organisation in a meaningful and value added way.
These are the key things to get right to create a environment in which people feel fulfilled. That’s not to say that other things aren’t important. Leadership behaviours and reward and recognition are just two examples of other influences – but objectives are a good place to start.
And the film I’ve chosen to illustrate fulfilment is ‘Field of Dreams’. The film features Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner), a poor farmer, struggling to make ends meet, who hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his corn field in Iowa. He argues with his wife, his friends and his bank manager over his irrational decision to build it, always believing that it’s the right thing to do despite not really knowing why. He just feels he has to. As the film progresses ghosts of former baseball players, including his own long-dead father appear to play a game on the diamond Ray has built. The film ends with Ray finding fulfilment, meeting his long-dead father, and helping others involved in the game to resolve outstanding issues. And at the same time he resolves hisown financial problems when baseball fans come from far and wide and pay to see the game. It’s a very implausible plot – but a very entertaining film!
There are two key links for me between the film and todays topic. The first actually argues against my previous comments about objectives. Ray has no idea why he’s building the diamond. He perhaps has a broad idea of what success means for him, and he develops it further as the film progresses, but certainly has no idea of how it fits with the bigger picture until very late in the film. On the other hand, when this becomes clear to him his hapiness, satisfaction and sense of fulfilment is totally clear. Perhaps there’s a lesson there also about sometimes trusting our intuition?
I also like the strapline – "Sometimes, when you believe the impossible, the incredible comes true."
I’ll post part nine tomorrow.