It’s all about Contribution
Let me take you to a remote Village of India.
The Village was in hills of Himalayas. One small river separate it from Main Road to nearby city. On that river there was small bridge which Villagers used to go city. One night there was heavy rain. When next morning everyone wake up, they found out that bridge was destroyed in that rain.
Villagers got very sad, this was the only way they could reach city for their essential needs. They knew it will take months for Government to rebuild it. There was no way they could wait months.
Villagers got together and it was decided that each and every family will contribute money as per their capacity to build that bridge. The collection went on for two weeks and they collected enough money to build the bridge. Bridge was reconstructed in one months.
It was day to inaugurate the bridge and all Villagers gathered near newly constructed bridge. The surpunch of Village announced, now I will declare biggest contributor and that person will inaugurate the bridge.
He announced that biggest contributor was Shanti mousi, that old lady who used to live near river in a small hut. Everyone was surprised that a old lady who hardly had money to buy her food, was biggest contributor. Then one person gathered courage and asked how she has contributed.
Surpunch said “She has contributed Rs. 50.” Everyone was surprised how Rs. 50 could be biggest contribution. Surpunch continued “Yes, she has contributed Rs. 50 and before you ask how that’s biggest contribution, let me tell you. Many of you have contributed much more than Rs. 50, but how much did you contribute according to your capacity. This old lady who earns Rs. 5 per day hardly enough for her daily food had saved this Rs. 50 and donated all of her saving. Her commitment was more than anyone else, so I consider her biggest contributor.
Most of you, would agree with that surpunch and appreciate that old lady. But do we actually appreciate that kind of people in real life. Let me ask what if there were all people like that old lady, who contributed according to their full capacity but only Rs. 50. There was no way that bridge could have been built. So although commitment matters what actually counts is contribution.
Let me bring this to corporate world. As you know today employees don’t work for any one owner. If you see in actual sense all shareholders are owners of company and employees themselves are shareholders to great extent. So does that mean we work for ourselves? Vaguely yes. All of us work for common goal of corporate and get paid according to our contribution. We no longer work for owner of company.
So what matters is contribution of employees. As a managers, our aim is to maximize employee contribution and help them achieve their best. So when we say that an employee is not performing well, we mean he/she is not contributing enough.
This may become very generic unless we break it further. This can be broken down in Simple Equation of CCC where Contribution equals to Capacity by Commitment.
Contribution = Capacity x Commitment
In our story, the commitment of that old lady was big but because her capacity was small ultimate contribution was small. So as managers, if we find problem with someone’s performance or Contribution to Company, we need to break it further to analyze where actual problem lies before we remedy it. Let’s look into these two factors of Contribution one by one.
Capacity – This is the first requisite. If someone doesn’t have capacity at all to perform certain job or tasks no matter how committed he is, it’s not going to help. In our story, if that old lady had savings of Rs. 50 only there was no way she could contribute more than that irrespective of her commitment.
As a manager, we need to assess a person’s capacity because that is most he is capable to contribute. When I say most, I mean most at this point of time. Ofcourse this capacity can be increased and that is central past to our model. One more thing, first thing to assess capacity is your recruitment process. That’s when you should have assessed a person’s ability to perform certain tasks. Recruitment process also has its own limitation regarding capacity assessment.
Commitment – This is the secondary but most important aspect to contribution. A person’s commitment level is determined by various things and should not be confused with Attitude. Attitude can be one of the factors to Commitment but not only. There can be other factors such as Motivation level, situations etc.
As a manager, we need to determine a person’s commitment level and see where the problem lies. This is something which is ever changing and is most difficult to assess in best of recruitment processes. This is most important aspect of contribution equation and can prove to be most difficult to improve upon.
So we have seen by now that a person’s Contribution is determined by two things his capacity in terms of his profile and his commitment to use those capacities for his profile. Now let’s see how as a managers we can use it.
- First of all, if as a manager you see issue with someone’s performance, you will need to find out exact reason for that. It has to be either of these two reasons, lack of capacity or lack of commitment.
- Start with assessing if that person has requisite technical and soft skills to perform his functions. If you find problem in this area, that’s good news because this area is easier to improve upon.
- If you have found out that its capacity issue, find out exact skill that is lacking. For example if you find out an employee is not able to contribute to proper coding because he does not have enough knowledge of perfect algorithms, you can always refer him to trainings or pull few colleagues who can help him train on this aspect. Another example, if you find out that an employee is not able to influence outcomes in meetings, you can arrange some trainings for him, help him to do some mocks, even give immediate constructive feedback post every such meeting.
- If you find out problem is not about capacity and person has all skill sets to perform his functions well, then it has to be commitment problem. As I mentioned earlier don’t confuse commitment with attitude. Attitude is one part of it, there are many others. Once you have determined that its problem about commitment, drill further on exact reason or part of this problem. All this is only possible if you observe and listen them well. Some of the possible reasons for this are:
- Attitude – This can be due to wrong attitude towards work. This is one of the most difficult to work upon but not impossible. This can be discussion topic for another time, but one hint here, behind attitude there are habits and belief system. If you want to change attitude, you will need to change those.
- Motivation – This is another reason for lack of commitment. Most of the times, this is hidden and can be easily confused with Attitude problem. If found out, this is much easier to solve than attitude. This also can be very broad area of discussion but one hint here, this has lot to do with proper alignment of personal interest, proper formation of profile and working styles. Some realignment in those can change it dramatically.
- Situation – This can be hidden reason behind commitment problem but can be very easily solved. Situations can be personal or professionals. All it takes is attention, flexibility and understanding as a manager to solve this. Most of the times this looks lot complicated than it actually is.
The key is to understand this model and find out where this is actually breaking. Without proper identification of problem area, it can never be solved and easily generalized as performance issues. If as a manager we actually want to help our people we will need to understand them better, then only we can fit problem into this model help them solve it.
This model is not taken from any book or article. This is the one I have developed and used for myself over last nine years of career. This is the first time I am putting this to paper and discussing with anyone in proper model format. But this is well tested by me and has always worked for me. Hopefully you will find it useful.
P.S.- This is the first in series of posts from my Toastmaster speeches. This was originally written and used as my CC2 Speech.