FRIDAY 19 OCT 2018 11:04 AM

PRIDE AND PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE

With the launch of ‘Take Pride’, Sheila Parry has explored what it means to have pride in what you do and has written a practical framework to create those conditions at work. She presents the case for putting individual interests firmly on a par with organisational goals and explains why communications and HR professionals are best placed to drive a movement of cultural change

I know what it feels like to love my job and be proud of what I do, and I am passionate about helping other people feel the same. I have worked with charismatic leaders and inclusive managers who have created energetic and positive cultures in the workplace. Sadly, I have also seen the dark side. I have observed appalling behaviour by people in positions of responsibility, displays of bad manners, bad management or just sheer incompetence. I have seen toxic relationships, where people have lost respect and trust in their employers and are afraid to speak their minds. Take Pride is about magnifying the good and stamping out the bad – and it is my passionate belief that communications and HR professionals have all the right skills, position and opportunity to make this happen.

These two core principles anchor the PRIDE approach.

Principle 1: Adopt a dual perspective
Our daily experience of work is influenced by multiple factors from the macro (broad economic trends and market forces) to the micro (our bosses’ personality and our colleagues’ enthusiasm). Throw in, for good measure, the mood we wake up in, the relationships we have at home and whether we feel we have any choices in life. All this counts.

Over my years at work, I’ve become more and more convinced that wherever we work, whatever our brands stand for, however good our ideas or products, for anything to have any meaning or make real impact you need to find the right people. In every company, every workplace I have known, it is the individual who makes things happen. I challenge any business leader and any consultant, to look at the most complex challenges they have faced, the most complex structures they have managed, and not acknowledge the part played by particular, influential individuals.

Every large company comprises multiple functions and departments, smaller networks or groups of people working in shifts, in teams or alone. Whatever the workplace, how people behave is the difference between a good and a bad experience. ‘People make the difference’ is not an empty expression.

Recognising the power of the individual, Take Pride adopts a unique dual perspective on the world of work, through the lens of the organisation and through those of individual employees. Easy in theory, in practice this dual perspective is a challenge to maintain. It requires a step-change from established management approaches to both knowing and caring what employees are thinking.

Principle 2: Bring your whole brain to work
If you want to build pride in your organisation and to see colleagues taking pride in their roles, you need to appeal to twin incentives, rational and emotional. Being successful and building successful organisations is hard work. It takes guts and heart, and you have to engage your brain – every bit of it.

Why communications and HR professionals can drive PRIDE
- We have the ability to combine strategic understanding with emotional intelligence
- We understand what makes organisations work and people tick
- It is our day job makes the vital connection between what the organisation stands for and what people can achieve within it
- We have significant influence on the reputation-integrity factor that is at the heart of the PRIDE model

As a creative communicator, I have some strong right-brain tendencies. But to make good in the world of business I have had to develop the left side of my brain – my logical, numerical and fact-based skills. The PRIDE model will resonate with those in communications and HR because they should already be tuned in to the motivations of people at work and have the emotional intelligence to see how it might apply to their own organisation. But to play their full part, they need to understand their organisation’s business goals as well. They need to connect the personal to the strategic, the individual to the collective and to convince the leadership of the model’s merits. To be effective, you not only have to use the language of leadership, you have to start thinking like leaders as well.

On the other hand, when it comes to leadership, people and organisations are successful when they are led by a well-rounded team. Technical ability and intelligence alone do not make a leader; you need to have sensitivity and emotional intelligence as well. Emotional intelligence means being aware of how you and other people are feeling as well as behaving – working out the why, as well as the what. It displays itself in active listening, empathy, and the ability to adjust your behaviour to suit the needs of others. The most effective organisations recognise the need for softer skills and create the opportunities for leaders to develop their empathy. Take Pride puts a conscious emphasis on the value of emotional intelligence and offers logical thinkers a new way of thinking about human interactions in the workplace.

People and their performance will flourish when leaders and influencers pay attention to both evidence and intuition, where good relationships are viewed as an integral part of leadership responsibility, and good behaviour is rewarded alongside good results.

Performing at work – being positive, motivated, engaged – is a discretionary choice. Employees have a contractual responsibility to deliver tasks, but they all have a choice about how well they perform. Take Pride sets out a framework for an environment where people respect each other, understand and share goals, want to contribute and know that they are valued. These are the five common factors that build pride at work:

- Purpose defines a company’s raison d’être, is deeply meaningful, proudly shared and readily discussed. It drives sustainable and emotional commitment from employees and strengthens commercial relationships.

- Reputation is a key motivation for potential and existing employees and acts as a yardstick of a company’s commercial value in the world. Those working for well-regarded brands are more likely than employees of lesser-known brands to recommend their companies’ products

- Integrity is the inner truth of your organisation, evidence of whether the reputation is signalled in the day-to-day experience of its key stakeholders. Whether you fail to deliver for your customers, or you fail to deliver for your employees, people will eventually leave you.

- Direction is a statement of a company’s future focus – its strategy for growth and its goals. Employers who set out clear direction and enable their employees to perform and develop constantly outperform their rivals.

- Energy builds the physical and emotional stamina that will achieve sustainability for a company and its people. A look at brand leaders in the FMCG market of 1916 who were still brand leaders a century later shows organisations that constantly review and refresh their strategies to cope with new market demands.

Take Pride explains more about what these factors are, why they matter, what they look like up close and how they can be achieved.

In each of these five areas, company leaders are encouraged to have meaningful conversations in the workplace and set the example for others to follow. They have to learn what makes people tick, through time and exposure, active listening, conversation and reflection. Communications and HR professionals are good at having these conversations and helping others do the same. They can coach, they can train, they can demonstrate the right behaviours that will dramatically improve relationships between employees and the people they work for.

Witnessing the great results achieved when CEOs and strategic HR and communications people work hand in hand was a catalyst for me to write this book. Take Pride steps away from the single-functional, specialist communications approach to look at the business environment as a whole. I encourage you all to do the same.

Take Pride was published by Unbound on 6th September 2018. Sheila Parry is running a masterclass for the IoIC on 30 October

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