What we’re really talking about is how do we create workplaces and work environments where we’re leveraging everybody’s natural gifts. We need to recognize that people have different needs and people have unique gifts.
Welcome to our interview with Jim Finkelstein. Jim is President and CEO at FutureSense, LLC.
Jim is a student and leader of people in business. With 35+ years of consulting and corporate experience, he understands the convergence of environment, culture, development and rewards in order to improve business performance through people.
Welcome Jim, and thank you for contributing to the questions that are at the heart of the Exploring Forward Thinking Workplaces 2.0 conversation.
That’s a very good question. What we’re really talking about is how do we create workplaces and work environments where we’re leveraging everybody’s natural gifts. We need to recognize that people have different needs and people have unique gifts. So the workplace of the future really has to honor “mass customization.” There will be no one size fits all. No best practices (just interesting ones). If you would allow everybody to retune how they want that workplace to show up for them, you would intuitively stimulate amazing innovation and change.
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Idealistic state? Sure. If I wanted to work some of the time with people, work some of the time detached from people, work at home, work on a plane, it doesn’t really matter. I can set in motion what my unique needs are. If I can have that matched up to the perfect front page where everything comes together, that would be pretty darn good. So it’s incumbent upon the individual organization to figure out how to connect the wants, needs and desires of each unique person with the ultimate workplace experience.
You can’t find those silver bullets to say that ubiquitously across all humans that this is what it requires. Here are the things that I find to probably be the most relevant to really get into the minds of the people.
We really have to have to be able to create experiences and environments, events and other ways to intersect with them in a way that they fulfill their purpose. In theory, what we’re trying to do is understand not only their unique motivational profile but what wakes them up in the morning, floats their boat, melts their butter and brings them to a place that they can do the best they can, fulfilled with purpose and with some great direction.
People show up for different reasons. Some show up specifically for the money – how do you create a reward program that taps into that motivational profile? How do you create a work environment for people who really want status? They want to create a hierarchy and be at the top of the hierarchy―there are different workplace experiences there. Again, once we stop trying to solve these challenges with the “one best solution” we will truly find innovative ways to tap into people’s full potential.
The workplace of the future will create an environment of purpose, a culture that honors uniqueness, a development system that allows people to truly learn and grow and a reward program that reinforces their motivational profile.
According to the surveys we have seen, we know the number one reason that they leave the workplace is they don’t like their boss. The number two reason is they don’t like their co-workers. Number three, depending upon which survey you’re looking at, is the lack of tools, training and a whole bunch of other things that impact how employees work and learn. Then down on the list at number five or six is compensation.
But going back to the number one or two reasons, what people look for in general is a positive community. And specifically, a community of purpose. Community is going to be either in form of mentors, coaches and guides or co-workers you work with along the way. People that lack community and engagement with that community will be less productive, less motivated and less successful.
You can cite various resources around this topic, but Gallup may have popularized it in their Q12 engagement survey with their question, “Do you have a best friend at work?” While now controversial and challenged as to importance, I believe that the question should be — “Do you have a community you can trust and where you feel respected and able to make a contribution?”
I think there are several pathways one could go down in answering this question. One is, “How can I be helpful to you in growing your career?” Second, is to really ask and listen to, “What are your aspirations?” Some people don’t have the clarity of direction around career but they do have a desired future state that they are learning how to express. Then the employer can really figure out the pathway, the motivation, and all of those things they need to package together to build the support system to help people get to where they want to get. If they don’t know where they want to get, it’s, “Let’s explore it together.”
“Where are we going?” Employees really need to understand the business of the business. “Why are we in business?” “What’s our purpose? “How do we add value back into the community that we serve?” Most of the dysfunction I have observed in organizations comes from a lack of understanding and connection with the business. Where are we going is always the question people don’t have a clue about. Management sometimes isn’t clear, doesn’t want to share or can’t express it in a way that engages people.
“Why?” I’m a big believer in why do we do what we do. Let’s understand our own purpose, our own intentions, our own motivations and ask why are we doing what we’re doing.
Here is a simple example. I sit looking at 1381 emails that I feel overwhelmed with and that are still in my Inbox. I’ve read them all, but I’m concerned I haven’t processed them to put them in a place where I know they’ve been acted on. Why am I going to worry about deleting 1381 emails when I can search for what I want anyway? I can just trust myself that I’ve handled it. If I ask myself “why am I doing this task?” I may come up with a better solution!
If we don’t ask the question why, in all honesty we act more like programmed robots than thinking, feeling, and purposeful people.
When I began to think about starting my own business, I thought – wouldn’t it be interesting if I could package up and sell what is intuitive common sense. And I’d structure it so if I gave you advice on anything and you liked it, you’d pay me. If you didn’t like it, don’t pay me. So I said ok, I’m going to call this Common Sense Consultants. Then it got real and I decided that might be a little bit too cliché.
But I wanted my firm to have common sense as a driving force and I always wanted the work I did to add value to the people and clients I served for the future – for a better tomorrow. As a former YMCA camper and counselor, I was always trained to leave the campground cleaner with more wood than when I arrived!
And out of an orientation towards common sense and a passion for helping people and organizations create a better future, FutureSense emerged.
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