I was very lucky in my first job: it provided endless learning opportunities, regular tests of knowledge and skills, constant necessity to improvise and create, and endless contact with an ‘interesting’ bunch of highly-skilled characters. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was set up as near-perfectly as any job could be to provide motivation and satisfaction to the employees (in every respect except the salary – I was working for BBC radio – and one other thing which I’ll come to in a moment).
Now that developments in psychology and neuroscience have started to elucidate the connections between human needs, experience, hormones, brain cells, emotions and behaviour, we can begin to see how the unusual working environment of a radio studio fitted the diverse needs of the staff at a fundamental level. This explains why that job was so satisfying – and why you could have worked in those studios with a broken leg and felt no pain.
One thing was painful, though – the staff felt, almost without exception, that they were doing their work despite the management structures that should have been supporting them. Perhaps the ‘creative’ types would not have enjoyed any kind of management approach, but there was a chasm between the studio teams and the Personnel Department, as it was then called.
For the last 20 years I have been working with individuals, groups and companies that need to change. As a consultant in human behaviour and director of Performance Review Pro, working in businesses of all sizes on problems with communication and motivation, I want to help managers understand what is upsetting their staff and getting in the way of intelligence and performance. Information is the key to this – the right kind of information, used in the right way.
That’s what we aim to provide with Performance Review Pro, an online system which unpacks the multiple ways in which the culture and environment of the workplace interact with the intricacies of human nature, and then shows managers how to help make things work better.
Aside from Performance Review Pro I am also a member of the Engage for Success ‘guru’ group, though I am not yet able to levitate unaided; I have an MA in psychotherapy and was part of the working party that defined the National Occupational Standards for cognitive–behavioural therapy; and I founded the mental health charity Resolution, which provides specialist psychological trauma services for veterans who cannot get satisfactory symptom relief elsewhere.