Why It Isn’t Hard to Find Self-Managed Stakeholders

If you believe you can’t…

We regularly highlight companies in every sector with a few dozen to tens of thousands of Stakeholders who all function without managers. How can they find thousands of Stakeholders, when others seem to have trouble finding just a few?

Gallup and some others claim around 20% of the workforce is actively disengaged – you ask them to do X, and they will work hard to do X minus. They also claim around 20-30% of the workforce is actively engaged – they will do X plus, when you only ask for X.

That leaves 50-60% of the workforce that Gallup says aren’t actively engaged or actively disengaged. They call them simply, “not engaged”; bumping along.

So these stats show 70-80% of the workforce is, at best, “not engaged” in their work. Yet our experience is that it is very easy to find actively engaged, fully committed, self-managed Stakeholders who don’t need to be managed, just led. W. L. Gore has 10,000 and Semco has 3,000, both with no managers. Scores of other companies, including our own have a few to tens of thousands, all with nobody managing them. And nobody goofs off. How can that be? Won’t people take advantage of that freedom and turn it into a license to ease off the gas?

No. And here’s why.

LCD Management MAKES People Disengaged
The 50-60% that everyone claims are “not engaged” are followers, and are simply responding to the work world you created for them to live in. If you believe people need to be managed, and don’t have the motivation to take care of their commitments at work, then you will create a workplace structure that is designed to “manage” them into productivity.

LCD Rules vs. HCD Values
This mindset results in a common leadership mistake – LCD Management. Over time (or right away), managers create “lowest common denominator” rules. In response to a few people doing stupid or lazy things, managers create rules to ensure no one can repeat it. The result is a workplace designed around preventing people from being stupid and lazy. People hired into these workplaces work to the lowest common denominator, exactly what you expected of them.

The answer is HCD leadership – decide what would free people up to be as smart, motivated and responsible as possible, and design a workplace to that “highest common denominator”. People hired into that workplace will understand that by being a self-motivated, self-managed adult, they will have ownership over their lives at work, and make more money. It’s motivating to reach up to attain something (HCD Leadership), not to just work a little harder than necessary (LCD Management).

Values, not Rules
An LCD workplace is full of rules to keep people from doing something stupid or lazy. An HCD workplace is nearly void of rules and is instead full of values that guide and drive people to be and do their best when no one else is watching. If your workplace is built around values, you will attract Stakeholders, not employees.

When you build an HCD workplace, you attract the 20-30% of the workforce that wants to be “fully engaged” – natural Stakeholders; AND the 50-60% that will play whatever game is presented, will reach for the stars because that is the game you’re playing.

Attract the 70-80%, not the 20-30%
Build an LCD workplace and you can expect 70-80% to act like employees who need to be managed and told what to do (children). Build an HCD workplace and you’ll find that 70-80% of the workforce will jump right on board. The 20-30% that are fully disengaged will find your workplace uninviting and will either not apply, or will leave.

W. L. Gore found 10,000 Stakeholders and no employees. With HCD Leadership, you should do just as well finding all the Stakeholders you want.

Participation Age Practices: DEG Invites Everyone to Start Something

Stakeholders as Entrepreneurs

Most companies are mired in the front-office business practices of the Industrial Age. But the Participation Age is a tidal wave breaking over the workplace. How are P-Age companies different? Here’s another example:

We Dig DEG
DEG in Overland Park, Kansas have developed Participation Age Stakeholders, people who can make decisions, take ownership, innovate, and are even encouraged to create entirely new products and services.

Neal Sharma, CEO of DEG, a $20 million digital marketing company with 140 Stakeholders – http://www.degdigital.com/about/, wants everyone to be creating. If you think there is a service the company should add, and they agree, you don’t just get credit for the idea, you’ll end up being the one who builds it.

Let’s Try That
Cara Olson was a Web Strategist who thought the company should expand into email marketing. Sharma told her to go for it. Cara put together a plan and found clients, and today, email marketing at DEG is a $9 million product line, almost half of the company’s revenue. Other Stakeholders followed suit, building social media, copywriting, and other revenue streams and services.

Not all of them succeed – as with any entrepreneurial initiative. But Neal Sharma and DEG understand the value of having people bring the whole, creative person to work, and the company has grown exponentially as a result.

Stakeholders Dig DEG, Too
Following are things the Stakeholders say about DEG as a result of being treated like adults who have great ideas:

– “Our voice is always heard. In our culture, the best idea wins no matter where it comes from.

– “We have a career lattice instead of a traditional career ladder, which translates to a high degree of internal mobility for us.

– “If there is something you’re interested in doing and you think there is a market for it, they want you to make the case and go do it. That’s pretty much the story of how we’ve grown.

– “Everyone receives credit for their work and contributions. We don’t like to have our heroes unsung.

– “We are given autonomy and the opportunity to make meaningful decisions that affect our business and our clients.

– “In addition to coffee, our awesome coffeehouse has flat screen TVs, an Xbox, and a fridge full of soda, juice, and more.

– “Beer:30. How have I not mentioned this yet?

Participation Age Stakeholders are empowered and encouraged to create, innovate, and take charge. Most importantly, whenever possible, decisions are made by those will have to carry them out. Why would they be made at any other level? DEG gets it, and as a result, they are growing fast and creating a workplace that was voted at the top of best places to work in Kansas City.

Read 124 Reasons to work at DEG – http://bit.ly/1jTSl1t
and some other great quotes by DEG Stakeholders here – http://bit.ly/1hTwz9b*

Don’t Settle – Find One Yourself
Companies of every size, in every industry, are embracing the Participation Age to be more successful. If you are a Stakeholder and want to Make Meaning, not just money, leave your Industrial Age company and go find one (see other examples on this blog). If you want to prepare to do that, or even build one yourself, read “Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea” – http://amzn.to/1n4l1rB