By pa360, Feb 23 2015 05:44AM
Isn't it amazing how differently we behave when we are doing something that we enjoy? Our energy levels are much higher, our enthusiasm is greater and we are often prepared to go over and above what is required. Whenever people demonstrate that sort of behaviour (without direction, instruction or offer of reward) it is commonly known as goodwill. A simple one word definition of goodwill is 'willingness' or 'free-will'. Willingness and free-will are what we do of our own choosing, not because we need to but because we want to.
People who extend goodwill are not looking for a reward, rather their motivation is one of selflessness, a sense of duty or a desire to help others. A good example of this sort of activity is volunteering, where people give of their time to help others. Another example is the professionalism shown by the person who chooses to stay behind after work, without compensation, to complete a task or meet a deadline. Although goodwill does not anticipate a reward, that does not mean that it goes unnoticed. Acts of goodwill are often recognised and celebrated because they are a testament to the good character and endearing traits that we so admire in others. So how do you create a goodwill economy in your organisation? Well set out below are seven key actions that will help you to build it.
1. Understand and define your organisation's social values
As surprising as it may seem, every organisation exhibits some variation of 'social values' - even organisations that have a profit-making and commercial motive. Those values are likely to be implicit in policy or more likely, the cumulative effects of employee behaviours. For example, an organisation that uses deadlines and targets as a pre-requisite for determining which employees are selected for promotion, will find that competitiveness, between employees, is one of its key 'social values'. Employees in such an organisation are less likely to want to share their skills and knowledge and will see no inherent value in empowering other employees (their likely would-be competitors). By contrast, an organisation where employees choose to collaborate is likely to value the sharing of skills and knowledge as well as the empowerment of others. In such an organisation,
2. Define the social motivators and triggers for social action
In view of the fact that goodwill is a social commodity, it is important to be mindful that people have different triggers and thresholds for engaging in social behaviours. Therefore to define the triggers and thresholds, you need to take steps to understand the behavioural motivators at all levels of the organisational hierarchy. These insights then need to be aligned to the benefits of goodwill in a way that will make sense to those whose behaviour you are seeking to influence. This is particularly important if the intention is to ensure that acts of goodwill are sustainable in the longer-terms, rather than spasmodic.
3. Model the goodwill behaviours
A willingness to do what needs to be done, rather than to wait to be told what to do, can say a lot about an individual. For one thing it is an important measure of 'attitude', because someone who can be relied upon to act on their own initiative demonstrates conscientiousness, awareness and a capacity for self motivation. These characteristics help to establish a person's credibility; but it doesn't end there because with credibility comes confidence, with confidence comes trust and with trust comes influence. Once established, influence is evidence of a strong brand and a strong brand gives you greater spending power in the market-place of opportunity. Goodwill is therefore a dynamic economy all of its own, with the capacity to create meaningful opportunities for those who practice it.
4. Affirm and acknowledge what you value
Any economy needs stimulation. Affirmation and acknowledgement are the means to stimulate the goodwill economy. Let's be clear, affirmation and acknowledgement are not the same thing as 'recognition', which is passive. To affirm or acknowledge is to be 'active'. When a person's behaviour is affirmed or acknowledged, then they feel enthused, encouraged and inspired. They want to do more of the same and are likely to want to inspire others to do the same. Too often, the energy for change dissipates because active steps are not taken to capture and cultivate it. As a consequence, those who would choose to do the right thing begin to question whether the effort is worth their while.
5. Communicate why it is important and why anyone should care
If you want to create a goodwill economy then communication is an absolutely critical part of that. The point about effective communication is two-fold; in the first instance to be impactful, the message needs to be managed and targeted in a way that is personalised. The reason why this is important is that people have different motivators and as such, each individual needs to be able to 'recognise themselves' in the values and benefits that goodwill is able to deliver. In the crudest possible terms, you need to clearly explain how goodwill is going to benefit them if you want them to care about it. The second point to note about communication is that it needs to be consistent. Nothing disrupts and impedes the effectiveness of messaging more than a lack of consistency and fluency.
6. Create irresistible momentum
Irresistible momentum is the intangible urge that moves individuals and groups of people to draw a particular conclusion or to decide upon a particular course of action over another. Irresistible momentum creates the 'tipping point' for change. In other words, if enough people choose to do something, it becomes the acceptable and desirable course of action and over time, the social norm. Of course momentum can be resisted, particularly when alternatives or options are presented that are of equal or greater worth or value. Creating irresistible momentum is therefore predicated on the necessity to frame 'desirability' around the act of goodwill and the benefits that can be derived from it.
7. Wire goodwill into you organisational business system
An organisation's business system is the process, procedures and frameworks through which it achieves its goals and objectives. Any organisation that is genuinely committed to creating a goodwill economy should therefore reflect its aspirations and ambitions in the policies, strategies and plans which structure its operations. In simple terms, that which is codified sets the expectation and that which sets the expectation becomes everybody's business.
In conclusion, creating a goodwill economy is a much more purposeful act than anchoring social principles into an organisation's habits, behaviours and ways of working. Goodwill actually produces tangible benefits in terms of increased productivity and profitability as well. It can also be used as a framework to develop leadership competency and management capability.