Organizational Nirvana

Gallup’s recent employee engagement data paints a pessimistic picture of the modern workplace with more than seven out of ten workers either disengaged (“sleepwalking”) or actively disengaged (“toxic”). That leaves a courageous minority of passionate talent who would run through a wall for your organization. Lost in the metrics are the rare organizations that have devoted themselves to a culture of 100% engagement – no sleepwalkers or poison.

One such team in Chicago’s western suburbs has spent the past two years seeking “organizational nirvana.” Organizational nirvana occurs when every member of the team is physically, emotionally, and intellectually committed to thriving in their role on behalf of the organization’s vision. No exceptions. Of course, the larger the team, the harder it is to achieve 100% engagement. Most organizations are satisfied with a 90/10 or even an 80/20 split. Most workplaces can manage around ten or twenty percent of their talent trying to undermine the mission. This keeps H.R. departments on their toes.

The airline industry and, less successfully, the healthcare industry seeks zero-error. When mistakes occur, a blend of full disclosure, root cause analysis, and proactive risk reduction gets deployed to lessen the chance of the error being repeated. It is an eternal continuous improvement model. Some organizations apply the same approach to the recruitment, development, and retention of their talent. Only the engaged survive.

These teams exist. This is not a myth or a fantasy. Organizational nirvana happens by deliberate choice cascading from leadership throughout the culture. It’s rooted in aligned vision and realized by accountability. It grows with the energy of innovation and thrives with the resilience of adaptation. If you are in a position to shape such a team, get to work. If you dream of contributing to a team like this, join that leader or ignite your own.