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Affinity + Ability = Achievement, Part 1

Affinity + Ability = Achievement, Part 1

What do you love and what you love doing?  Just because you love baseball does not mean you would love to be an accountant for a baseball team.  What do you have an affinity for?  For the leaders, what does this mean for your team? This is part 1 of a 3-part series: “Affinity + Ability = Achievement”.

Listen to the podcast here:

Affinity + Ability = Achievement with Allen Fahden: Part 1

Karla Nelson:  And welcome to the People Catalyst podcast, Allen Fahden.

Allen Fahden:  Hello Karla. Welcome everybody.

Karla Nelson:  Good day sir. Good day. Yes, welcome everyone.

Allen Fahden:  It’s a good day.

Karla Nelson:  It’s always a good day when it’s podcast day.

Allen Fahden:  It is.

Karla Nelson:  We’re really excited to do this podcast for our listeners and this going to be a three part series. This being part one of the three part series which is called Affinity Plus Ability Equals Achievement. So essentially, we’ve heard all these different buzzwords, employee engagement, team engagement, motivation, culture, change management but really the problem and all of that encapsulates really around one thing, which is leadership, right? And so-

Allen Fahden:  Absolutely.

Karla Nelson:  We’re really going to talk about a new way of leadership and who leads at which phase of the work. Because simply you cannot be an effective leader without this process in both innovation and implementation and leadership is what makes all of these things work. It’s just simply when you talk about employee engagement, teams engagement, motivation, right, it’s all these dumped into one bucket and what we’re forgetting is the process by which leaders lead.

  And leaders don’t lead … everyone always says, “Leaders at the back of the line, right? It’s about focusing on what everyone else is good at and supporting them.” Well, the challenge with it is, we kind of say, “Oh good great. You’re a leader.” We dump everybody in the room and say, “Here you go.” And truly, when you’re engaged, right? And I’ll go back to that buzzword that I really can’t stand, employee engagement, is that when you’re engaged is when you are working in this core nature of what your strengths are, what your good at and then it’s when you achieve, right, and we’ll get into that on the third part series of putting all of this together, and achieving.

  So for today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about the affinity parts of this equation, affinity plus ability equals achievement. And it’s absolutely crazy. Allen and I were looking into some numbers associated with this. And ’cause we always like number, right?

Allen Fahden:  Numbers are great.

Karla Nelson:  Numbers are good. And Gallop has been around for about 30 years and they have worked with over 30 million employees and so a lot of times we focus on their statistics because they’ve got a breath and also you know 30 years is a long time.

Allen Fahden:  Absolutely. And this particular one really applies to affinity and looking at this through the lens of affinity, it can make a big difference. There’s is that 80% of employees worldwide, are not engaged at work.

Karla Nelson:  87%.

Allen Fahden:  87%. And think about this. We’re always thinking about all these ways to get people engaged, well, how do we do it? Well one way we’re missing is to find out what their affinity is, what kind of work they have an affinity towards and allow them to do that, to do more of that and so why would you do it? Well here’s another statistic coming from the same group and that is, companies with a highly engaged workforce out perform their peers by 147% in earning per share.

Karla Nelson:  That’s a killer. And that’s what that without utilizing the process. That’s just saying a company like for instance, it makes me think of like Zappos or a company that’s given their team a really big WHY and so we’ll talk about the outcome piece in just a moment. What we’re talking about is the actual process by getting to that. And you know our numbers have been 300 to 800% more effective. Not sure that obviously bleeds to the bottom line a little bit different thank just 147% in earnings per share, because they’re looking at the share price, right?

Allen Fahden:  Yep.

Karla Nelson:  Of the actual corporation. So there’s a couple different ways of looking at that. Well it makes me think how that is also correlated, Allen, to the Gallop study that 70% of people hate their jobs and that means they do not like going to work and then 90% are still unhappy in their work. So if you look at that 87% aren’t engaged, 90% are unhappy in their work, I’m pretty sure that’s probably a bit of a correlation there.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah. Let’s celebrate that. Isn’t that exciting? 90% of the people miserable. Okay. So now the interesting thing is-

Karla Nelson:  We’re working that podcast. No, I’m just joking. There’s hope, people. There’s hope, we promise.

Allen Fahden:  There’s hope. And here’s an interesting distinction. Even if they find their work purposeful, you know I love … you know this is for the children. I’m doing something I’m passionate about or whatever, well, they still hate the process in achieving the outcome. We call it, you know are you doing weak work, or you’re peak work, p-e-a-k. When you’re working at your peak, you’re doing it fast, you’re doing it extremely well, you’re loving it. And when you’re doing your weak work, it’s like running through Jello and you keep tripping over the carrots and fruit cocktail. It’s a terrible, terrible thing to have to be stuck in your weak work or and your so slow.

So for example, I happen to love baseball but if you hired me for a baseball team and put me in the accounting department ’cause I’m a shaker, and your baseball team might be out of business in about two weeks because I’m terrible at it. I hate it. What would I be doing? I’d be covering up, I can’t do this.

Karla Nelson:  You’d be sitting at your desk going, “What, oh this is horrible. I don’t like what I’m doing.” Exactly. You know what it reminds me of is the story of Steve and Paul with the oil and gas company. And we had clients that they had these two employees that were really, really not enjoying each other, they weren’t enjoying their work. And so Steve, who was a major shaker, and Paul, who was a prover and if you have any questions in that regard, we just did advance training and prior to that we did an eight part series breaking down each of these core natures of work.

  So as a shaker, shakers really like interruption and they can’t stand routine. And as a prover, provers hate interruptions and they enjoy routine. And so what this particular company had done was put Steve and Paul in a seat in a technology IT kind of focus that shared the help desk and shared the server maintenance. But guess what, they both didn’t like both … those two actual jobs are completely different and so what we did is we went in and took a look at it and said, “Okay Steve, so you’re a shaker and you like interruption and you don’t like routine. So we’re going to give you a 100% of the help desk.” And then with Paul, who was a prover, he, again hated interruptions, liked routine and so he got 100% of the server maintenance. So he got to sit in the backroom and just maintain the server and not get interrupted and have some daily routine to what he was doing. And outcome was absolutely fantastic.

  And it’s interesting Allen, because when you talk about employee engagement, or team engagement, motivation, culture, change manager, all these different buzzwords we hear all the time or if we’re doing a personality profile, it’s like at the end of the day it’s how do we get … how do we remove the resistance, right? So instead of putting people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, at the right part of the work, what we do is we give them one more thing to learn, right. Oh this is your personality. Well guess what? It’s not about singing Kumbaya, it’s about getting something accomplished. So it’s about implementation of whatever it is your idea is and I find it absolutely incredible that what we do is we give people more things to do and more things to learn with all these different buzzwords that at end of the day it’s about leadership and who’s leading at what base and who’s sitting at what place in the work?

Allen Fahden:  Absolutely.

Karla Nelson:  And the other piece is the weak working the peak work piece. Okay so, let’s not even take into account that Steve, his weak work was server maintenance and Paul’s weak work was help desk. I mean it was pretty simple. Was an easy fix, right? But it’s about removing the resistance, not pressing down more.

Allen Fahden:  Right, right. So and I think something bares explanation here and that is that every project, every task has a beginning, a middle and an end just like anything else. And at some point in that process, you’re going to stumble onto your peak work. And the interesting thing about that is that you’ll be going slow, slow, slow and you’ll finally get to a point in the process where you really do something well and guess what? Bang, you knocked it out and so what are you going to do? More weak works, slow, slow, slow. So you might have, think about this, 50% of your work load one day is weak work, stuff you’re not good at, and 50% of your work is peak, stuff you are good at. Now, does that mean you’ll spend 50% of the time on both?

Karla Nelson:  Well, I know the answer to that.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah. No, it’s actually more like 90% of the time and 10% of the time. 90% of your time on your weak work, why? ‘Cause you’re slow, and you plod, and it’s painful, and the clock just ticks so slowly and want to get-

Karla Nelson:  Or you find other things to do. That’s what I always do.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah, right.

Karla Nelson:  If something you have to do, I’m like, “Oh, somebody just texted. Oh. I’ve got to connect this person with this person.” Right?

Allen Fahden:  That’s much better. I think I’ll do that instead. Well you’ll procrastinate. It’ll pile up on your desk. You’ll lose focus. People say, “Focus, focus, focus.” Well if it’s your weak work, you can’t focus for any period of time.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah.

Allen Fahden:  So-

Karla Nelson:  It just sucks you dry.

Allen Fahden:  So what are we doing here? Most of the time people will be with any project, they’ll be in their peak work maybe 17 to 25% of the time. And that’s ridiculous. We could get that up to 50, 60%. And if you got the right handoffs along with that, then suddenly everything can be going that much faster and that much better.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah. I remember that makes me think of one client, Patricia who … you know provers get a bad rap, you know? They really do because they’re looked at as naysayers, and negative and really they feel that it’s their duty to tell you everything that could go wrong with the project. And so, Patricia got to sit in and this doesn’t matter if it’s ideation or implementation, everybody is important at different parts of the work.

Allen Fahden:  Right. In principle.

Karla Nelson:  Exactly. And ideation provers are going to tell you everything that can go wrong before you spend a dime or put any time and energy on it. The other piece of it because this particular process wasn’t ideation, is that if you can’t get your provers buy-in, you’re not going to get everyone else’s buy-in on it. And so, your provers really end up being that crux between ideation and implementation and can fail something in concept form.

  And so this particular prover, actually it’s so funny I was teaching at a CEO conference, and I had this other guy reminded me so much of Patricia, is that giving them the opportunity for their peak work which is telling you everything that could go wrong, looking around the corners, trying to figure out all the different pieces that you haven’t thought of before you start implementing and you just see the prover just delight with joy in telling you everything that you haven’t thought of and allowing them … and they breakup some incredible stuff, right. So it reminds me of her when … she’s been doing her job for 25 years and never been given the space, right, to pick apart an idea without being looked upon as a bad guy.

Allen Fahden:  And that’s really important because the process does not allow anybody to push back or criticize the prover. The prover is just doing their job, which is warning you, big word WARNING. I’m giving you a warning, this could go wrong. And then they’re celebrated for that. Those are ideas and then you go on to the next step and for the first time, perhaps, in our life she got the ability to do that without fear of somebody calling her bad, wrong, evil-

Karla Nelson:  Naysayer.

Allen Fahden:  … naysayer, mean spirited, joy killer, the darkness, Darth Vader.

Karla Nelson:  Darth Vader. That’s a good one.

Allen Fahden:  Throwing cush balls at, you know, at them. Idea killer, and so.

Karla Nelson:  You got it. You got it well. And that goes with every core nature of strength, right? So that is a prover but again, all the core natures of strength, giving that space to be who they are and really work in that peak work versus the weak work.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah. Huge. Huge. And you know and the same thing is true for everybody. I’ll give you an example. Kind of an opposite of the prove is the shaker, that’s the person who generates idea. Now, where a prover will critique your idea ’cause it has too much wrong with it and they could see it immediately right? Well a shaker will reject your idea for another reason and that is it’s not mine. Nice idea but I didn’t think of it. So this is a completely different situation and yet it can be equally, equally powerful and so here is a shaker who we work-

Karla Nelson:  You’re talking about Shawn aren’t you?

Allen Fahden:  Yeah, Shawn. You know Shawn.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah. We go way back.

Allen Fahden:  Shawn was upset at the work of a supplier and didn’t like their ideas, was critiquing them all the time. And everybody was sure because he was critiquing that Shawn was a prover and Shawn took the assessment and we found that Shawn was a shaker. And it’s like, “What?” And he says, “Yeah.” “And here’s … well then why are you are always critiquing the ideas?: And he says, “Well, a couple of reasons. Number one, you’re not listening to me and giving me what I need. That’s number one. But the more important piece is, look, I work at bank and I don’t like working at a bank and I have a miserable job and the one chance, the one chance I get to be involved in the ideas, you come and present all this stuff to me as a fait accompli, its all done, it’s all … and I don’t get a chance to play.”

Karla Nelson:  Shakers have to play.

Allen Fahden:  And so the people listen to this, and they change the way that they were presenting the ideas to them. Instead of finishing them up, they made them very, very rough and presented them the whole bunch of ideas rather than just two or three. And so, he then, said, “Hey, I really love this idea as long as it has this visual from this one and this headline from this one over here.” And what did he do, he put his mark on it. It became his idea because he altered it. Plus he loved the process of co-creating. So when you’re dealing with a shaker, let him be a shaker. Let them create too. And what he did, they’d improved.

Karla Nelson:  And the cool thing is and they can all create because as you run the process, they call come up with some piece that you use. And so by default, shakers will then put their own … and this goes through with every core nature of strength, when they put their thumb print on it, they will adopt it as their own.

Allen Fahden:  They own it.

Karla Nelson:  And people support what they build and so none of these challenges that we’re talking about that correlate under these all these different buzzwords, but end up boiling down to leadership are not going to be solved with a ping pong table or at pot-luck on Friday or sitting around singing Kumbaya with everybody on the team. It’s absolutely critical that you could run the process in both the ideation and implementation stage and leadership really is letting people do the parts of the work that they love and the parts that they are great at, and excel at and it might not be 100% of the time but guess what, even if its 50% of the time you’re going to, what is that quadruple your output with that individual instead of 90/10 is pretty pathetic with 70% of people hating their jobs and 89% not being engaged.

Allen Fahden:  Absolutely. So as a leader, think about this. Your job is to lead people into doing the parts of work where their core nature is such that they love it, ’cause it’s also what they’re great at. And it’s not the outcome they love necessarily like, “Oh, we’ll make a better baseball team out of it.” But it’s the part of me that I apply to it, that it gives me the great satisfaction. That’s where the love comes from. I can love baseball by doing some job I hate or I can do it by doing something job I love or part of the job I love. Why not let it be the part of the job that you love that’s supplied the world.

Karla Nelson:  It is easy for you in all also I think really it … our just … culture has been that as something as easy is easy for you. If you do it so brilliantly, without having to work really hard that its not valued as much. And that is huge issue with leadership. If you are incredible at math, and you are horrible at English, don’t try to focus on what you’re horrible at and make it better, focus on what you’re brilliant at and make it better, especially the way that work is working this day and age where we have highly specified people that do each piece of the work. And so as we wrap up, we have one question that we’d all like you to consider is as a leader, what are you doing to put people in the right place, doing what they love so they can exceed in this way.