Few years back, I was doing a focussed group discussion on value alignment and a small part of this discussion was to understand what people’s jobs felt like. This was a metaphorical and imaging exercise to tap beyond language, unconscious and unsaid. Few patterns of thoughts that emerged caught my attention: there was always a wall, a chain, block, and many other ways in which people expressed their disempowerment through images. Some felt like they were driving a bus full of people and didn’t know where it was headed, some felt like everything looked ok on the surface but there one leg felt chained under the table. One person shared that every morning feels like they wake up and stare at a wall. This was not surprising, I guess we have all heard some of these expressions around coffee dispensers. Of course this was not a feeling all the time- there were also feelings of meaningful contribution, creativity etc., but there seemed to be something about the design of the mindset through which the jobs were designed that was holding the key to expanding the unmet potential needs of these people. I started to dream and realised that the mindset of ‘Human Resources for Organisation’ needed a paradigm shift to ‘Organisation resources for Humans’.
This framework of thought needs reflection as we have been conditioned with narratives of serving an organisation that then in-turn serves a bigger vision; however, the bigger vision is usually achieved by oppressing, marginalising and walking over several people who come to serve the organisation and when that organisation has no collective consciousness and understanding of sustainable ecosystems, it creates power structures that are oppressive. It creates pecking order, inauthentic insidious spaces which allow pockets of power, privilege and lack of responsibility in leadership.
This got me thinking, What makes a job energising? How can we create job descriptions as a generative container, where a person can feel growth? where people didn’t feel trapped, used or manipulated. How can spaces of generative conversations create emergence and magic.
Here is something I learnt from my work as an OD consultant for over a decade regarding what is important for people and what energises them. As per my observation, there are 3 energy components of a Job, I call them Triple anchor, The first two are creating the container for observance, awareness and alignment and the third is for emergence.
- Being: Who and what is the person supposed to be in this job? What metaphors or images come to mind when you think of this job? What is empowering and energising about this job? How can that be expanded and brought to the centre of this role while designing the Job?
- Personal Stand: What are the values that are crucial to this job and its mission? What personal values would support this role? Allow the role holder to create their own ‘stand’ for the job. Support Integration of the Role holder’s life story that bring the role holder to this place
- The stand would include a personal commitment, vision and a body posture for somatic integration that allows stepping into the being the Role.
- The Job description will have well being practices and creative ideas for stepping into the role.
- Doing: The doing part is the part that emerges when we can hold the first two. This is the action that has to be emergent, dynamic, and come from a co-creational space. This should not be defined concretely, as that can become the biggest energy block. Also this must continue to evolve based on internal and external feedback.
The Triple anchor job design requires self work on the part of the organisation, where there is a deeper understanding of what is the collective purpose of the organisation and how is it informed by Self, Collective and Ecological consciousness. Some people ask me what about jobs that are only transactional in nature what do we do about them? I say they should cease to exist, if they don’t energise, keeping such jobs alive will suck energy of people. The next generation jobs shouldn’t be just informed by the bottom line, they should be informed by ‘What it means to Grow and create sustainable future?’