Friday, February 9, 2018

Equality through opportunity - How would your staff describe you?

A staff member recently gave me a quote I needed for a submission for an article about how I work. He told me I promote 'equality through opportunity'.  I loved that phrase, it really summaries how I work and who I am as a person. I was really proud that this is the feeling/ image I portray.  I wrote it on a post-it note and look at it everyday which prompted this post.

I certainly would not have said that about myself say 10 years ago. As I've understood more about what makes me tick and what makes others tick, I've been able to change the way I approach things.

Dealing with students over the past years has allowed me more to understand what fragile beings we are at this part of our career.  I have also witnessed the Autistic/ Asperger's 17 year old whom I care-give for go through 15 jobs in just over 12 months, more than I have had in a life-time!

I've come to realise, that all we really want as humans is to be given the opportunity to succeed.  This is not the success that our employers or family may want, but succeed in our our definition of success.  What I've come to realize is that most of us define success by having material things or by having a label- such as a job title or achieving a qualification which labels us even more.  

The 17 year-old I care-give for can't stand labels.  In fact I've observed him recently when being asked about his new job, simply describe the successes he has had at work, rather than the company name or what his job title is.  He would say "I've been trenching sports-fields and golf-courses".  When asked who for and what his actual job was- he could not even tell the person he was speaking to the company name or his proper job title.  I was astounded.  The fact that he has been working on a multi-million dollar upgrade of one of Auckland's most exclusive golf courses didn't even feature....that is until I dropped that into the conversation.  Then it hit me.  success is not or should not be about labels.  If we simply understood what peoples 'life success criteria' actually were, we might be able to provide employees and colleagues and friends with the opportunities to better reach their own personal success goals.  

I certainly believe that if we provide the foundations for opportunity to succeed to all employees, we will not only provide opportunity for their own success, but also a better form of equality in the work place.  I provide a diverse working environment, I have had people in my work place with mental health conditions, totally different ethnic back-grounds and cultures, however they are all treated the same and all held accountable for their work, this creates opportunity for them to succeed on a level playing field and makes them feel important and valued.  I do also take the time to meet with the team individually and work through their own SWOT analysis, this is also a vital step I undertake with students- who often have no idea where they are at in this regard.  In short, people need to understand people as people and their feelings and motivations are what makes our world exist.

Late in 2017, I had fantastic feedback from an Intern about his success criteria, which I found out was actually making his grandmas dream come true.  For years our team have voted on who is the Star performer of the month, again, they define what THEY see as success in a star performer.  We all get one vote, including management.  This particular intern WON the BMW Convertible for use for the month.  He was so happy.  He took the car home and with the top down, took his Grandma for a ride.  He told me it was one of his proudest moments.  This intern was from India and had lost his Mum in child-birth, he was also a twin.  His grandma had raised him and his brother.  Her dream was to ride in a convertible.  He did this through our process- opportunity through equality.  He won the car because the TEAM defined who was successful and in doing so, he realised his own success criteria- to make his grandmas dreams come true, through his hard work.

So when we think of our corporate worlds, I think back to the number of  times I have seen people passed up on opportunity due to 'office politics' because 'management have decided'..  Some of our largest multi-nationals are full of this culture.  I've seen people in these companies fall apart completely as they strive to hit the 'companies success goals', with the company not giving a dam about the individuals personal success criteria.  
Just imagine hoe different our work places would be if we stopped and asked our employees what their individual success criteria were?  Are you providing opportunity for them to succeed in this space or are you just driving them to meet your own goals at the detriment of their own?

For the record, when I sit and think about my own life success criteria, this is what I come up with - in no particular order:-

- providing the time and environment for the 17 year old Autistic boy I care-give for to meet his own success goals.
- providing a home for my family that is comfortable and loving
- ensuring my own health & wellness is a priority - putting this first, rather than my career
- doing something to grow my own knowledge and helping others at the same time
- having the financial stability to choose my work quantity and have this flexible enough to work around my primary goals.
- ensuing young talent in NZ is fostered and opportunity is provided for them to be expressive through entrepreneurship, support and opportunity to meet their own goals 
- feeling good about my work helping others succeed through watching them learn and succeed.

My challenge to you is to give yourself 15 minutes to try and write out your own life succeed criteria.  Take these, then think about how your life is designed.  Have your Designed Your Life to meet your own success criteria, or are you on a different path?  Something to ponder on!

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