Having nearly 30 years of experience working in and with organizations of all sizes, I’ve noticed that there is a universal disconnect between the ‘organization’ and the ‘individual’. The organization exists for a reason and so it has needs in a way. For some it may be to further a mission or cause and for others it may be to generate an acceptable rate of return. No matter the organization, these reasons for existing usually turn into strategies, goals and plans to help get to the desired results.
Individuals are a different story. Each of us is wired in a way that is unique to us. The environments we have been in, the experiences we have had and even our genetics (and a lot of other things) all contribute to the person you are today. The person has needs that most of the time we’re not even conscious of. We have needs at home, with our friends, our environment and certainly at work. Maybe you have a strong need to be challenged at work, but at home your need for support is more important. Our needs may shift over time, but for many, our needs become hard-wired at an early age. Most of the choices you make throughout the day are based on those needs, whether you’re aware of them or not. And it’s in our nature to gravitate to people, things and work that will help us get closer to meeting our needs.
Back to the organization. An organization has its need. Add to those the people who make the decisions within an organization to help those needs get met. Each of them has their own set of needs that will drive their decision-making processes as they craft the strategies, goals and plans for the organization. Broaden that to every individual in the organization and you could have hundreds or thousands of people all making choices continuously that are driven by their own needs. And without awareness and intention, you will choose your needs over the organization’s every time.
So how does any organization ever manage to get anything accomplished? I define a truly successful organization as one where both organizational and individual needs are known and understood – and intentional work is done toward meetings those needs. By understanding what an organization needs, you can build a team of people who have needs which will support and complement both what the organization needs and each other. This starts with awareness and should start with the leaders and managers who make the strategic plans and decisions. When this group is highly effective, each member of the teams is aware of their own needs and how they make decisions, and they’re aware of the same for the other members of the team.
When we can make decisions as a team from a place of awareness, we can not only navigate, but we can harness the power of individual needs to better serve the organization. Gaining awareness and understand of needs will set in motion powerful shifts in the way people think and act. This awareness should come from an objective source so that everyone is coming from the same perspective. Having individuals guess at what their needs are never works. We’d all like to think we’re self-aware enough to do it, but our perspective is always through the lens of inside looking out. Nor do we have enough information to determine another person’s needs.
Objective information comes from the outside and should be rooted in research and psychology. There are a variety of different instruments out there that can help you get solid data that you can turn into powerful understanding leading to awareness. Then the work begins to use that awareness to make intentional decisions – every day.
Imagine your team working together from a place of understanding and conscious decision making. Imagine an environment where individuals thrived because their needs were understood and appreciated. Imagine the powerful shift your organization and people would experience.