Lewin’s Equation: What does this mean for employee engagement | culp

Lewin’s Equation: What does this mean for employee engagement

By admin Culture & People News, Talent Management No Comments on Lewin’s Equation: What does this mean for employee engagement

For those of us, employers and individuals alike that are expecting the same results as pre-Covid or pre-lockdown performance figures. You are going to be bitterly disappointed. That disappointment will likely lead to a myriad of reactions in a typical organisation which could look something like this:

  1. Traditional performance management
  2. Career counselling discussions
  3. Psychological danger
  4. No reward, no bonus
  5. Reputation damage in the team and organisation
  6. Less effective communication (on a need to know basis)
  7. Exclusion
  8. Potential retrenchment / termination
  9. Exit

Of all the 9 items above, and there are bound to more depending on the industry, organisation and level of HR competence. Not one adds value to employee engagement, experience and productivity levels as they stand today in the work environment. Why? Because these negative, reactive circumstances are how traditional HR will manage poor performance in an organisation. In the past (and unfortunately in many instances still today) HR is focused on managing the person as a risk to the system and not the system itself. Nevertheless, organisations are expecting similar results from very different behaviours.

Lewin’s equation, is not a mathematical equation representing quantifiable relationships but rather a heuristic designed by psychologist Kurt Lewin. It states that behaviour (B) is a function of the person (P) and his or her environment (E).”

B = f(P,E)

Employers are expecting similar results but yet, every individual’s behaviour is fundamentally different. Let’s take the obvious factor one to start off with. The environment (E) has changed completely. We are now working remotely, from home, with children, with pets, with many distractions and in home studies, in bed (which is where I am writing this blog post from), on the dining room table, next to the pool, in the lounge, zoom (online) video meetings to the maximum (if possible), connectivity issues, no connectivity or access… The list is big, the list is long, the list is uniquely different for each person. Even if each person came from the same “environment” and corporate culture. How those individuals perceive the corporate culture in their new environments (E) impacts their behaviour, engagement and productivity levels.

Of course, manager and leader behaviours have to adapt quicker to motivate and drive the desired outcomes but now with very little control over the environment of the employee. To be fair, I think that leaders and managers have adapted as quickly as they can, but still have little idea how to lead in this remote working world. It is no surprise, that leadership and management development is strategic to uplift employee engagement and productivity levels in remote and flexible working environments.

The person (P) has also changed. We are more anxious, worried, stressed and insecure now more than ever. We are living in complete uncertainty, where financial risk and insecurity is high. People are in lockdown, in confined spaces with limited movement which is totally unusual. People are living in houses that are over-populated or in complete isolation. The social, cognitive and emotional psychological impact, in a species that is designed to be social and in relationship, is substantial and perceived unalike for each member of the population. Whether you are working behind a desk, in a factory, as an essential worker, as a student, and even a child. This will impact your interactions and trust in people long after a vaccine is found. Life will not return to normal until the quality of our thoughts and life experiences become familiar with life without constant threat or risk. The impact is a change in behaviour.

The fact of the matter is that everyone’s behaviour will and is changed. We simply cannot continue expecting the same results. Employers need to review performance, expected results and goals to initiate the slow transformational change process that puts people-first in an uncontrollable environment to drive the right behaviours that achieve results (and profit) over time. This “new” economy, has to come with a “new” way of working in the future world of work.

Here are 15 Agile HR ideas for you to start considering:

  1. Emerging organisational design
  2. Leadership and management development in a remote / flexible work environment
  3. Organisational culture and values review and transformation
  4. Redesign and implementation of your EVP
  5. Diversity and inclusion opportunities in a remote / flexible work environment
  6. Defining an integrated competency framework
  7. Maturing L&D for continuous improvement
  8. Significant focus on employee engagement and organisational development interventions
  9. Complete overhaul of the traditional performance management system
  10. Salary as a hygiene factor
  11. Reward and recognise the right behaviour more regularly
  12. Psychometric Assessment for personal development plans
  13. Building the right HR Tech stack that will enable employee experience
  14. Review the relationship with consulting partners and vendors to support this new way of working
  15. Invest in scoping and implementing artificial intelligence, chatbots and people analytics

Here is a blog post by Josh Bersin written just a couple of weeks ago, The Pulse of HR – What Is HR Doing Now?. According to Josh, culp in partnership with One Circle are heading down the right path.

If your focus in not almost entirely on your people, then you are scrambling for competitive advantage. What are you going to do?

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