The way things are done around here – a tale of fulfilment, realization and triumph


In two previous articles on the topic of employee engagement in the workplace, I have focused on research by Gallup that shows no more than 30% of the global workforce has been actively engaged since 2009 when polling began.

The latest poll shows that, in South Africa, only 9% of the working population are engaged with what they are doing at work.

The focus of this article is to discover where and how in the world this malaise is being effectively addressed and measurable improvements achieved.

Return on character

Seven years ago, Fred Kiel, a researcher from Minneapolis, Minnesota, surveyed 84 medium sized companies in the United States. He started with a self- assessment by the CEOs. This was followed by an assessment of the CEOs by everybody in the organizations. The purpose of the assessments was to rate the CEOs on four characteristics: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.

This kind of research was by no means unique. It falls fair and square in the genre described by experience-hardened and results focused executives as “touchy-feely”.

It was what followed that caused Fred to write a bestseller and become sought after by radio and TV show hosts across America.

The organizations that Fred had surveyed allowed him to compare their financial results with the character ratings of the CEOs. The results revealed that the enterprises where the CEO had a high rating returned, on average, five times more on assets employed than whose where the CEO had a low rating.

Fred and his colleagues had uncovered a link between the so-called soft skills which impact on employee engagement, and the hard issues of operational and financial performance. The website krw-int’l.com contains a wealth of information on how “return on character” is transforming workplaces and beneficially impacting company performance.

The agile path to holacracy

Agile is an open system that was designed as a response to the failures of large-scale IT systems design and implementation during the 1990s.

Agile operates on the basis of small, stand-alone building blocks created by self-managing teams. The methodology minimises work in progress and allows for “fail fast”. It substantially reduces the cost and increases the efficiency of systems development.

The introduction of self-managing teams creates a platform for the alignment of the purpose of team members with the purpose of the team as a whole. When agile teams are supported with a team relationship systems coach, the improvement in productivity is dramatic. Agile teams are generally populated