“What you seek is seeking you.” ― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

In the last newsletter, we asked the question, are employee’s stakeholders? We offered that another way to look at an organization is to see the employees as the organization – living cells within a living body.

The next question is, how do you attract people who are energetically part of the living organization?

Hint – it is not through the usual recruitment process.

The normal process is to identify the required skills necessary to achieve a certain set of predefined job requirements.  We establish a description of the job to be done, the responsibilities of the position along with the skills and experience we feel are required for a person to fulfill those responsibilities.

This is akin to going to the computer superstore with a set of specs and finding the right parts that fit those requirements.  It is clearly a process that is seeking to find the right component that will fit it our defined machine of production.

This approach is, at its core, a transactional one.  Like any commodity exchange, it seeks to find the right component at the least cost.  From the employees’ side, they recognize the commodity nature of the transaction so they will do their best hype their specs (the skills they offer) for a certain amount of time in return for the best price.

Is it any wonder that employees who engage in this type of transaction have no loyalty, no commitment to the organization?

Given the initial transactional nature of the relationship agreement, why do we as leaders think we can then turn around and develop programs that will engage employees?

If we truly want employees to be committed and engaged to the purpose/mission and vision of the organization, we must set the nature of their relationship at the time we first meet with them.  We must change the context and approach to recruitment.

If you want to recruit someone to be an active contributing part of your living organization, you need to attract them.  You want to attract those who want to commit to the soulful purpose and vision of the organization and co-create the outcomes that will produce success.  Those individuals who will be committed to the collective because they sense it will yield the best outcome for what they care most about.

Go about it as if you are attracting a long-term personal relationship.  Isn’t that what you desire? You start by first understanding what you are looking for.  Not just in terms of the skills or talents they may have, but the nature of how they will be in relationship with the organization.

This perspective is in addition to the talents and skills required.  You are adding to the overall cellular structure of the living organization.  You want to know how they will compliment what you already have and how they will help move the organization to the next level of growth and maturity.

Years ago, when I was taking a dating class (taught by the woman who would become my wife), she said that when looking for a long-term committed relationship, you had to be clear about three things – what you valued, what you offered and what were your non-negotiables.

Non-negotiables were those attributes that the other person must possess.  There are a lot of attributes we might like the other person to have, most of which fall into the category of it would be nice.  Non-negotiables are those attributes that are a deal breaker.

For me, a key non-negotiable was that whoever I chose had to be OK with being in a relationship that focused on raising a young girl.  I was a single dad of a 9-year-old girl and was fully committed to parenting her as my top priority.  Many women around my age had already finished raising their children and wanted to travel.  While I enjoyed travel, it would be foolish for me to enter a relationship with women whose priority in life was to move past the parenting stage and travel the world.

Adding new members to your organization should be approached in the same way.  What do you stand for, what do you offer, and what are your non negotiables?

What you stand for is embedded in The Living Organization’s Strategic Compass™.  It starts with clarity about why you exist: your Soulful Purpose™.  It explains how you will fulfill your Soulful Purpose through your Mission.  It includes a vivid picture of the future you will create as you live your Mission.  And your non-negotiables are defined by your guiding values, for these set the boundaries for how people will and will not operate.

The Strategic Compass is your primary offer to any potential relationship.  An individual’s ability to commit to who the organization is and what it wants to accomplish will only happen if the individual’s personal life mission is aligned with the organization’s.

When you are talking to potential new members, seek to understand their “why.”  Why do they want to join your organization, and why being part of your team will enhance their life’s purpose?  Ask how they will contribute to your organization’s success and why they believe they can be successful.

As an example, I was working with a client whose CFO was no longer aligned with the direction the CEO and founder wanted to go.  The CFO was approaching his early sixties and adverse to taking on the risk of the CEO’s growth and expansion strategy.

In defining the qualities, we wanted in a replacement for the CFO, we started with those attributes that would fit with a growth strategy.  We also knew there were several culturally rooted behaviors we wanted to change, so we added the ability to work with the existing behaviors and morph them into the new behaviors while maintaining key values. Of course, we sought a certain level of technical skills associated with the CFO position, including the ability to implement a new ERP system.

Each prospect was initially screened for their technical skills, which was relatively easy to determine.  The real process for determining the best individual was during the one-on-one conversation.  During these conversations, we focused on their own values and discussed their career aspirations.  We found out what was important to them in their life overall and how their career fit into that.  We discovered their views on managing and leading others.  We asked how joining our organization would help them achieve their own goals and how they would contribute to the success of the organization.

We looked for responses that were aligned with who this organization was and who we were becoming.  While no one had all the attributes we wanted, there were a couple that met all our non-negotiables.  In the end, we found someone who became an integral part of the evolution of the organization and eventually became its next president.

In the “superstore approach,” you are seeking people to fit a role.  In the living organization approach, you are being an attractor of people who are joining and committing to your community.

That’s the way you create healthy cells and a vibrant living organization.