Tuesday July 3, 2012
Help enhance workers’ creativity
A merely legalistic, contractual relationship between workers and their organisation cannot realise its full potential.
IT is a universally accepted principle that the most effective contemporary management process follows from participatory management. This principle holds that the dynamic management process begins with a belief in the potential of people.
The Quran prominently regards man as the best of all the creations. Allah says, “We have indeed created man in the best moulds.”
This positive attitude towards the nature of human potential provides a strong commitment that every aspect of human potential in an organisation has to be explored fully for the benefit of all parties: the organisation, the individual concerned and society at large.
The development of an individual’s potential normally begins with his belief system. If the belief system is holistic and multi-dimensional in approach, a well-rounded personality is likely to be developed.
Our religious belief, world view and value system should be as closely integrated into our working life as they are into our family life and our other spheres. The ability to manage our lives in this integrated approach can be a very dynamic basis for great success in our working lives.
Islam encompasses all aspects of man’s existence. It considers life in its totality; all virtues performed by man, individually and collectively, are considered religious.
Indeed, all actions of man are accountable to God. The Quran says, “Then shall anyone who has done an atom’s weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it.”
This teaching of Islam requires every worker in an organisation to fulfil his responsibility as a religious requirement. Islam strongly opposes the view that there is a dichotomy between religious virtue and the quality of one’s performance at the workplace.
Everything that an individual does must fulfil his religious requirement according to Islam. To strive for excellence is indeed a religious virtue.
The Islamic world view provides a guideline for an individual and society to organise their works. Islam is a network interrelating the concepts of God, humanity, man’s relationship to God, man’s position and role in the universe, and his relationship to his fellow men in all capacities.
It prescribes that man individually and collectively should organise based on the values of truth, justice and brotherhood. This approach of Islam is very humane and can contribute to lasting success.
In the Islamic world view, there is ample space, for example, for individual workers in an organisation to develop their potential in a dynamic manner. To a religion that propagates continuous human development, man’s natural potential should be given the greatest opportunity for development. Organisational leadership lies in polishing, liberating and enabling those gifts to be contributory.
In efforts to advance the organisation, all the potential of its workers must be mobilised to contribute positively to attaining the organisation’s goals. Failure to mobilise all the potential of the workers can retard the organisation’s performance. Mobilising their full potential reflects how each worker is participating effectively in the running of the organisation.
It is important to understand and accept that there is a diversity of talents among workers. This reality enables the organisation to accept that all workers are equally needed to achieve the organisation’s goal. Failure to recognise this aspect of human nature would be a very big mistake.
Diversity allows each worker to contribute in a special way to make his special gift a part of the organisation’s efforts. This creates an atmosphere in which everyone feels he or she is useful, needed, acknowledged, recognised and being part of the group.
In the present competitive environment, our need to find ways to tap into the creativity and potential of people at all levels is well recognised. The room for workers’ creativity must be as spacious as possible. Workers should regard themselves as volunteers in the organisation, their affiliation to the organisation being based more on a covenant than a contract.
Max De Pree argues that a contractual relationship of a worker to an organisation has nothing to do with reaching his potential. Indeed, the relationship between an organisation and its workers based on contractual requirements will not result in productive contributions by the workers.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his famous 1978 speech at Harvard, recognised the shortcomings of developing workers’ potential through legalistic relationships.
He said, “A society based on the letter of the law will never reach any higher and will fail to take advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society.
“Whenever the tissue of life is woven from legalistic relationships, it creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyses men’s noblest impulses.” And later, “after a certain level of the problem has been reached, legalistic thinking induces paralysis; it prevents one from seeing the scale and the meaning of events.”
In our present quest for excellence, the management of our organisations must take heed of the religious teaching that human potential can be contributory if we have a strong belief in the potential of all people working in our organisation.
They need to be guided by the organisation’s clear mission and its dynamic leadership.
Max De Pree is right in considering that participatory management arises from the heart and a personal philosophy about people. He reiterated that participatory management cannot be added to, or subtracted from, a corporate policy manual like one more managerial tool.
Everyone in the organisation must be participating in the running of the organisation. The organisation must guarantee that decisions will not be arbitrary, secret, or closed to questioning.
The Islamic principle of syura as prescribed by the Quran serves as a good guideline. Allah says, “and they consult their affairs by mutual consultation.”
A rational environment values trust and human dignity: ample opportunities for personal development and self-fulfilment in the organisation must be provided. The initial belief in man as the best of all creations is an essential beginning for us to strive for success.