Re-imagining the workplace: We are in deep trouble in our challenging workplace

File pic: Workplace

This column sets out to take its readers through a journey that should put us in a position of understanding the criticality of the human resource.

This is both for the leader and the led. It is good for the leader to understand this for purposes of working with the human resource in such a manner that they thrive and the best is gotten out of them.

This is based on the premise that one cannot use any resource to its fullest if they do not understand its potential. It is good for the led because self-awareness is the basis for self-improvement.

No one can be assisted by even another person to get directions if it is not known where they are.

When one knows where they are, they can be assisted in different ways to get directions. Clearly that is where we should start, where we are, what we are, and who we are, so that we may begin to move forward.

I have tried at length to establish, based on scientific research, that there is a serious relationship between happiness and performance in all areas of performance.

This has been a tall order and mammoth task because happiness is considered a nice-to-have thing because in the workplace it’s not important whether we are happy or not because what we want to achieve can be achieved without happiness.

We risk being labelled softies, cry-babies and sissies if we want happiness and claim that it is important that we are happy for us to perform and give out our best.

The courage is still there though, to unpack this important life phenomenon and make it understandable by all and sundry because we all do need to understand it.

We are unhappy and underperforming, sadly, but because we are achieving ‘enough’ on the surface, we do not feel the need to do anything more regarding doing better and even reaching the sublime.

We are content with average and sometimes even below average and mediocre because the human resource and the functioning of same is considered a given and so we do not do much to achieve the zenith.

Our commitment as people management and development enthusiasts is to then show the relationship between happiness and performance scientifically. Shirzad Chamine, the author of the New York Times bestselling book Positive Intelligence where Positive Intelligence (PQ) is a measure of Mental Fitness, indicating how quickly you recover from negative to positive responses to challenges.

This leads to happiness and based on his research, this happiness increases performance levels. Our task is to show how and this is where we get to understand that we are psychosomatic beings who have a lot happening that we are not conscious of and that determines our state of mind, body and the quality of our thoughts and decision.

There is a state of mind that promotes high levels of performance and without self-awareness and hence self-direction, a lot happens compulsively and we lose a lot in the process.

The worst is that we then perform mediocre and not know that we are doing badly and compulsively, holding the illusion that we are successful and doing well.

There is the wellness side to it, which is a subject for another day, but it’s important that we refer to it here. The body takes a big knock from this compulsive thinking scourge that results in biochemical activities in the body and unwellness.

This further complicates simple performance and can lead to the body not being able to perform its duties and very important destinies and assignments get aborted before they see the light of day.

When the opposite happens and we take control of the functioning of our minds, bodies, emotions and energies, things shift and there is light from the inside and this light opens new neuropathways that have never been activated. We feel like we have received a new lease of life. The performer awakes and sees flowers where they used to see thorns and thistles only.

Outside that awareness, the human resources are living at some level of trauma and never see the flowers. It makes sense that outside awareness, we all live at a certain level of trauma.

I am aware that it is difficult to embrace this compelling research finding, but the idea is to provoke desire to decide to start the journey of awareness, happiness and performance. We cannot afford to live and perform at that level forever because this is tantamount to self-robbery.

The workplace in Zimbabwe and the world over is robbing its contemporary society and posterity by not tapping into the real deal which is to indeed do those ambitious business plans and then invest in capacitating the human resource and making it happy to perform to its highest. In most organisations we do our plans and slave drive the human resource, getting close to nothing out of this important resource.

The Zimbabwean workplace presents some of the best challenges for any trailblazing thinker who wants to break free from the tentacles of fate and the belief that when things are difficult, there is nothing we can do about it.

Nature has great examples of the good, the beauty and the sweet being hidden behind something that looks ugly.

Mineral resources are found in the belly of the earth under very dark conditions and honey, the sweetest and healthy liquid is produced by one ugly insect that stings human beings, the bee. One would have thought that honey would come out of our mothers’ titties but alas it’s from these insects.

 Flowers, a natural beauty that is beautiful for itself, grow out of dirty soil and thrive even. Why then do we refuse our bad, manure situation in the Zimbabwean workplace and other places?

We should get excited about the idea of digging deep into this dirt and coming out with the best. When we come out alive and thriving, the world will look at us as a collective success and celebrity.

We, therefore cannot afford to just speculate or maintain the business-as-usual attitude. Ours should be the business as unusual attitude because we are going for the jugular vein in the workplace and taking no prisoners. Comfort is not favourable for this kind of attitude and execution.

We have created subtle comfort zones around ourselves because comfort zones do not care that it is under difficult conditions. We can be in deep problems and have comfort zones.

These comfort zones are zones that are not comfortable and if we knew it, we would work our way out of them.

  •  Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as head of human capital, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]


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