Today’s world is full of fear. Consumers won’t spend for fear of layoffs; Companies won’t hire for fear of another recession. Forget fight or flight: People are frozen and trying to stay out of the line of fire hoping that things won’t get any worse.
Perhaps the greatest losses we are experiencing today are the loss of our voices. Each of us has a unique voice that advances our lives, our work, our companies and our communities. Until we start to use our voices to innovate again, we will continue to have a stagnant economy.
Our voice represents our ability to speak an idea into a reality by taking positive action. Now is not the time to settle for mediocrity because life is challenging. Now is the time for us to engage in reflective action. Now is not the time to expect perfection from others or ourselves. Now is the time to apply the Toyota philosophy of “kaizen,” continuous improvement, and The Excellence Equation: E4, to achieve excellence.
Reflective action asks us to examine our beliefs about our ability to make things happen. It challenges us to reflect on whether our actions are consistent with our positive beliefs. Through a belief in ourselves, a sense of efficacy and agency, we can apply kaizen to take steps that improve our situation everyday.
When we use our voices to improve our lives, we decide to take actions, both personal and professional, that stand out as examples to our friends, families and others. We can use our voice to eradicate the paralysis of fear that holds many back. At work, we create additional streams of revenue through moving forward on those business ideas we have.
Adding up to Success
Voice = positive direction + reflective action (repeat this five times).
Studies show when corporations include the voices of their employees in business decisions, they improve employee engagement. Higher levels of engagement are strongly related to higher levels of innovation. A Gallup survey found 59 percent of engaged employees say their job brings out their most creative ideas; only 3 percent of disengaged employees reported the same. Hewitt Associates found high-engagement firms had total shareholder return that was 19 percent higher than the average in 2009. Increased employee engagement has been found to correlate to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Employee engagement diminishes when employees don’t feel their voices are heard which results in lower productivity. The loss of productivity from disengaged employees has been estimated to cost the U.S. economy $370 billion annually, money which could help to boost our economy.
It is time to thaw out of from the “freezing fear” of this economic downturn through activating our voices at home, in our communities, country and workplaces. When we do, it will benefit us all.
Dr. Steven Jones is an author, organizational psychologist and an expert in strategic change, personal empowerment, and diversity and inclusion. He is CEO of Jones & Associates Consulting Inc.