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Being on speed really can be the answer

March, 9 – BY TAM SANDEMAN – This week a trusty colleague and I, stopped building our ark to escape Sydney’s fine weather, in favour of attending the annual MNC HR Team Briefing – an annual gathering of HR professionals from multi-national organisations.  The session was great for a number of reasons, not least for two specific reasons for me.  Firstly, I heard some new thought-provoking stuff – always good on a rainy day, and secondly, I finally won one of those business card prize draws (which I’ve always thought were rigged – I take it all back). 

We heard speakers telling tales of the importance of culture when it comes to getting business results from the card people (Hallmark) and the biscuit and snacks people (Campbell Arnotts).  But it was the final speaker, Dr Adam Fraser, who ran a fantastic and insightful session about how high performing organisations can lift performance even higher by getting their people out of what he called ‘grind’ and into a state called ‘flow’ where we perform our best, similar to ‘being in the zone’ for an elite athlete (not unlike myself – ahem).  Clearly an important topic for anyone who works in employee engagement, internal communication or HR. 

Now, logic tells those of us of sound mind that ‘being in the zone’ obviously sounds like the right place to be to perform at work. But, the most interesting insight for me was around the pace we work at.  I know I’m not the only one who has said my biggest challenge is time, and the speed at which I’m expected to deliver, which seems to get faster and faster.  My instinct here is to try to reduce my workload.  Dr Adam’s comments reinforced my thinking, stating that specialists say the solution is to ‘do less’. 

However, his research has proven some of the best, happiest people are those who are living at pace.  People who are working at speed.  That speed is OK.  It’s just about being in the right frame of mind while you’re going at that pace.  It struck me that those of us looking at internal engagement initiatives in organisations must work to help people get into the state of ‘flow’, which, as he put, is where we are truly and authentically happy.  I loved his idea of looking deeper than the sheer volume of tasks we have on our agenda, and then started to draw parallels from our good internal communication practice.

Some of his points when questioning ourselves were:

  1. Do we have clarity of purpose? – this is akin to having a vision – a common goal – something everyone can pull behind. 
  2. How about our environment?  Can we control this to minimise distractions?  similar to decluttering communication in an organisation. 
  3. Are we present? – This is about active listening – really focusing on what’s in hand.  In the internal comms world, this is about two way communication – it’s got to be a conversation, not just one way
  4. Are you positive when you ‘show up’? – being positive has such a good ripple effect on everyone.  Dr Adam said, positive emotion encourages different parts of the brain to wake up and so leads to more positivity, more creativity and a culture of innovation – all these can only be good for business

His final point was again something we all know – just how important this behaviour is for leaders.  For people to perform at their best, it’s leaders who can make this happen.  Our suggestion is that internal communicators / anyone working in employee engagement start looking at these areas as if we get people in this state – this will make the true difference between being good, being great or being a company who is talked about.