Guy Millar, Founder of the Millar Method, Stoner Hill, UK
Purpose – This paper aims to argue that the relationship between employer and employee needs to change from independent/dependent to interdependent.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper puts forward the view that most management training does not work because it does not change behavior. The paper offers a model of training to help people and organizations to evolve.
Findings – The paper describes what is missing in the employee contract – accountability on both sides. It explains what accountability means, why it is critical and how to start creating this in your organization.
Practical implications – The paper argues that, if you want to have a successful employee-engagement program, you have to start with employees who are engaged in their own life. Helping to grow people's self-awareness and personal accountability is a good place to start. In this model of development, self-awareness is defined as having a strong sense of yourself and the part you play in your world. It is the ability to respond in a positive and effective way to your environment. But the organization also has to step up and ensure all its behavior and actions are aligned with its stated values.
Social implications – The paper contends that empowering people with these tools allows them to make more sense of their world, make better choices and to start living their best life. Business has the resources and organization to effect more than just economic growth.
Originality/value – The paper advances the view that, with big questions being raised about the integrity of our most fundamental institutions, it is imperative that people's behavior be aligned with the values the organization espouses. If our state of being is not matched by our state of doing we court disaster.
Employee engagement; Employees accountability; Management accountability; Problem solving; Attitudes; Leadership.
Human Resource Management International Digest
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
If you want people to be engaged and motivated by what your organization is setting out to achieve, they first need to be engaged in their own life.
People behave how they feel. No amount of employee-engagement activity is going to change this fundamentally. A company can have the best reward system, training and development and human resource (HR) policies, but if people do not feel good about themselves then neither can behavior change, nor training be effective. There is not a lot of evidence that corporates are tackling a much-needed change in behavior.
A paradigm shift in employee engagement is required that moves from the independent/dependent relationship that exists between employer and employee, to a relationship that is interconnected and where accountability exists on both sides. Where employees are caught in dependence they are looking to the organization to look after them. From this position they can only behave like a victim. When they are allowed to own their accountability you create a more equal relationship from which employees will naturally give of themselves. You create win/win for all stakeholders.
Getting employees to commit to your company, to pledge their loyalty, is not easy. It is not a demand we can make of our people – the company is doing all these wonderful things for you (incentive schemes, share options, health plans, training and development and so on) therefore you should be more loyal. It is not about giving to get, either. Employees are not stupid. They know when the conditions are true and when it is right to give their all for the company.
This is a major step for business, as it will, in future, require an understanding of basic human psychology. This has implications for HR, training and development specialists and coaches because, as it stands, most management training does not change behavior. It has to go deeper than that. If you are going to change people's behavior and how they view their life, so as to make training effective for your company, the work has to be different. Done well, this form of coaching has the ability to transform people and organizations.
Mentoring and coaching that purport to change people's world must be different and must use a different language and set of references. The Millar Method approach is to tackle the issue from a relationship perspective using a program called Embrace.
The Embrace program for business is a core underpinning of the Millar Method. The program takes participants through seven modules (engage, meet, bridge, release, align, commit, evolve).
There are two aspects to Embrace. Modules will frame hard business issues as well as help to address impediments to their success, which are typically around the softer issues. In the latter, participants are introduced to the workings of the mind – how our attitude sets our direction in life, how all behavior is driven by our feelings, which in turn are driven by our experiences. By building greater self-awareness, we learn about our accountability.
Participants learn about the stages all relationships go through and how to be in partnership. They also learn the principles of transformational communication; that our projections and judgments get in the way of successful relationships and high-performing teams. Participants learn that by committing to our personal growth we align our behavior and become congruent, moving more into integrity with our lives. From this place we enjoy more success.
Vision and integrity
Vision in business is needed for the way forward to be found. For this to occur, business leaders first need to be allowed to upgrade their own emotional and leadership technology. This is the first step in applying the Millar Method in an organization.
Integrity is an often-stated value of many organizations. But the reality in these businesses is very different. Integrity cannot be manufactured. You cannot pretend to have integrity.
The papers have been full of stories where trust has been broken and people have been found to be totally out of integrity (politicians, bankers, media, the police, not to mention a host of celebrities). If your state of being is not matched by your state of doing you recklessly court disaster. This statement is true as evidenced by the newspapers pretty much every day. Where we are not aligned with our values we create trouble. We get found out. In my opinion, what has been lacking, and is lacking in most employee programs, is any form of accountability. Without accountability, nothing can change. Accountability therefore is the first step in integrity.
But to do this requires a commitment to change. This is not about attending an old-style management-training program; this is about evolving as human beings. It is a journey of personal growth as this is the only way we can change. This is how we become authentic and live our lives from our hearts. It is how we start to align our behavior with our values in a consistent and natural way.
Accountability and meaning
Stephen Hawking said: “The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order.”
Being accountable means accepting that we play a part in everything that has ever happened to us and in everything that is happening to us. This principle is one of the most challenging aspects of life, and also one of the most empowering. To realize that we have a part to play in our world is to know that we have the power to change our world and solve our problems.
If we take the position that we are not accountable for our lives, we leave ourselves powerless and must see ourselves as in some way victims of events in our lives.
It is this dissociation, or lack of responsiveness to what is occurring around us, that leads us to believe we are living in a world ruled by chance or fate. If we believe that, we believe there are things that occur around us that happen randomly and therefore have no meaning. If we live in a world where events have no meaning for us, we have to be frightened.
The principle of accountability invites us to look for meaning in everything that occurs in our lives. It invites us to become responsive and therefore responsible for all that occurs around us. This choice to re-engage with our lives starts us on a path to learning and gives us a powerful tool to solve our problems. To accept our accountability is really the only way we can be effective. Changing ourselves is a great deal more achievable than changing others.
If we subscribe to the view that the world is our mirror, we can choose to look at events with new eyes and we can start to see they have meaning for us.
“Where am I out of integrity?” is a question you might like to ask yourself. And there will be somewhere – with your customers, staff, suppliers, shareholders – where you are not totally clean. You should not beat yourself up about it, but make the correction.
Accountability and problem solving
As children, many of us grew up in an environment of blame, sacrifice and lack of responsibility. As adults, the extent to which we do not accept our accountability is the extent to which we stay victims of our circumstances.
In order for us to become effective in solving our problems, we need to accept responsibility for our world, learn about ourselves from what happens in it and change ourselves. We cannot change other people, as most of us have learned to our cost.
The principle of accountability needs to be embraced by business if it is to get out of the mire that it is caught in now. We have forgotten the universal truth and principles of accountability and integrity to our cost. As both sides, employer and employee, embrace their accountability, the engagement on both sides can improve for the better.
About the author
Guy Millar, founder of the Millar Method, was formerly chief operating officer of HSBC Bank Brazil and then global head of human resources for HSBC Insurance, based in London. In Brazil, he became closely involved in staff engagement for the workforce of 25,000. He initiated a series of experiential workshops to give people the tools to transform their careers and make them accountable for their own lives – see www.themillarmethod.co.uk Guy Millar can be contacted at: email@example.com