Know yourself: get better results
It was Peter Drucker who 50 years ago, in his book The Effective Executive talked about the link between an individual knowing their contribution and an organisation’s results.
He explained it like this. Executives are knowledge workers; in order to be effective, they need to have the right knowledge to guide their actions. Drucker asserts that each executive should ask themselves these two questions:
“What needs to be done?”
“What is right for this organisation?” All their actions will flow from the answers to these questions.
When you ask yourself what needs to be done, this powerful question turns you immediately to considering what you can do to make a difference inviting you to go straight to the point. It's what you can actually deliver that will provide the most value, not turning yourself inside out to fit in with someone else's idea of who you should be, or agreeing to do something that you aren't equipped to do. We all know where our strengths lie and we need to understand how to use them to the best effect.
These simple questions encourage a holistic view, taking into account the bigger picture. Answering them has the magical effect of causing the questioner to challenge the organisational tendency of looking inwards. It is too easy to become focused on what you are 'supposed' to do. The tendency to be seen as a good HR manager, rather than connecting with the ‘why’ of the organisation, which is always results driven.
There was a perfect example recently in the NHS. A paramedic in Bristol was very aware of how the same few patients were coming back to A&E again and again, using up valuable resources. She suggested interviewing them to find out why. When the hospital did so, they found that they were all struggling with challenging life events. In response, they set up a less costly support centre where these patients could talk about their issues and get help. The result was that their appearances at A&E sharply declined. In view of the significant savings, the health authority took the decision to set up 20 more centres.
As a result of recognising the contribution she could make, in line with the NHS organisation’s commitment to making A&E as widely available as possible, a paramedic was able to come up with an implementable idea that had a powerful impact on results.
Some organisations realise this. Instead of interviewing people to fit a role, they look for people who can make a connection between what they know about their contribution and what the organisation wants to achieve. They recognise that wherever they are deployed within their specialism, they will make a full contribution to the organisation’s results.