(Read Time: 3.5 Minutes)
The unprecedented success of Hamilton is the wonder child born from the unlikely marriage of Hip Hop and History.
But the influence of Lin Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical is bigger than
11 Tony Awards
8 Million $ Rockefeller Foundation grant to subsidize student tickets
7 Drama Desk Awards
2 White House appearances
1 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
1 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
1 MacArthur Genius Award
The stunning success of Hamilton has touched another nerve and is likely to become a contemporary case study on the importance of gaining acceptance by speaking to people in a language they understand.
Not being preached down from a place of academic ascendency, or dumbed down for a mass audience, the play retells the life of Alexander Hamilton using period costuming and Hip Hop lyrics. It explains a complex life using a contemporary communication tool to speak to audiences in a way that is approachable and memorable.
Hamilton embodies the importance of communicating ideas so that the ‘doers’, those responsible for implementation, understand and respond.
This sequence, delivered flawlessly at every performance, creates the friction to grasp the slippery concept of mutual acceptance of ideas.
USING ‘THE HAMILTON FACTOR’ FOR INTRODUCING IDEAS THAT REPRESENT CHANGE
Creating mutual acceptance to an idea has always been important in moving business forward. The generational shift in today’s workforce – Boomers retiring and Millenials growing into management positions – requires new attention to the way ideas are presented.
Much had been written already about managing a Millenial workforce (and there is much more to come), but at its core, upper level managers are managing something new- a ‘Me’ generation workforce that is promiscuous in its employer loyalty, cynical in its reaction to change, technologically overcommitted with a finely honed internal value proposition gauge that incessantly asks the question ‘What’s in this for me?’
In conversations with managers from the financial to nonprofit sector, these were the 3 most repeated questions
- How can we effectively manage younger generations?
- How can we strengthen employee loyalty?
- How can we communicate ideas in a better way than ‘Because I Said So’?
Introducing ideas in a language people understand allows for absorption of, conversation about and acceptance (mutual acceptance) of an idea.
A common assumption is that by adopting this approach the timeline from ideation to implementation is extended. Happily, the opposite is true. Adopting an attitude of mutual acceptance has been proven to have a shorter timeline than the ‘Because I Said So’ approach.
In Paul Nutt’s highly acclaimed 2002 book Why Decisions Fail, he proves that decisions inviting participation and input have higher success rates-
Participation:complete (90-100% success rate) and
Participation: delegated (79-84% success rate)
than ideas that have been pushed down from the top with little or no employee inclusion and discussion. Nutt also proves that the average time required for overall acceptance of the strategy shortened.
Why then are these approaches some of the least implemented?
Because using a participatory approach requires a different way of thinking about introducing ideas.
7 SUGGESTIONS FOR CREATING A ‘HAMILTON FACTOR’ ENVIRONMENT
But first, a quick romp down memory lane with a story about a Goldfish…
When I was 8 years old my brother and I went to the local fair and he won me a goldfish.
It was thrilling!
The fish came home in a bag with instructions to introduce it slowly to new water. I was told that introducing the fish to new water all at once would shock the fish and it would not survive. I took the fish home and followed the instructions, introducing new water a little at a time.
The goldfish survived and thrived
Think of employees as goldfish and change as water. As leaders, we often live with and incubate ideas for a long time before they are introduced to staff. As leaders, we become accustomed to the water.
New ideas and strategies introduced to employees will have a higher chance of success if they are introduced by degree, into an environment that is supportive and familiar.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS:
1. Find Out Who Your Employees Are
Understand the demographic composition of staff. It will help inform the types of communication that will be most successful when introducing a new idea.
2. Ask, don’t guess
Survey your staff. Find out what interests them and what is important to them. Are they driven my compensation, flexible work schedules, volunteer opportunities or some combination? Ask your employees how they best absorb information. Answers to these questions will guide how employee participation programs are constructed.
3. Be a Zero on the ‘Bullshit Meter’
Employees, particularly younger employees, have a finely tuned ‘Bullshit Meter’. Be transparent. Better to lay out the more difficult path to success then sugarcoat the process. Ask employees for their ideas. Be prepared to listen to those ideas. Be clear that all ideas will be heard, but not all can or will be implemented. Create opt in ‘idea teams’ to generate tactics and give employees an active role in the planning and implementation process.
4. Create Benchmarks
Creating excitement around a new strategy is not crockpot cooking. Excitement is not built with a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. Creating sustained excitement requires an organic plan that changes to meet emerging needs. Begin by being clear about benchmarks and timelines and be honest about progress toward goals. If a benchmark isn’t achieved, revitalize the ‘idea teams’ to come up with new tactics.
5. Your risk, their reward
As a leader, the new strategy is a risk YOU have generated to address market forces and/or drive innovation. But as ‘doers’, staff should reap tangible benefit. Develop reward/incentive plans in advance of introducing the strategy. The elements of the incentive plans can come directly from the information learned from the staff survey (see Step #1).
6. Make it Fun
Explain what motivators will be added to the office rhythm. Define what success means to individual employees on a daily basis. These plans do not have to cost a lot of money or be complicated. Incentives like partnering with a nonprofit organization for a volunteer day or buying lunch for the office as an acknowledgement of effort toward the goal are low-cost ways to keep morale and loyalty high. Consider peer driven employee acknowledgement vehicles like ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ where employees can celebrate the ‘above and beyond’ activities of peers. These easy to implement programs keep employees energized and focused.
7. Do Something Else
Because change is hard in general and implementing change is hard daily, we must work at keeping productivity high. Instituting a mandatory ‘Me Day’ gives employees guilt free, built in time off and an opportunity to recharge. Offering health clubs discounts or partnering with other firms to encourage product sampling (think Blue Bottle coffee) are low cost ways to keep staff excited about coming to work.
Weighted heavily toward employee satisfaction, these suggestions are designed to accelerate the mutual acceptance process and keep employees focused toward helping leaders realize ideas and achieve objectives. Implementing new ways of communicating with employees represents change for leaders, but once in place, creates actions that increase productivity.
Employees can choose where they work.
As leaders, thinking about
WHO their employees are,
HOW they accept and implement ideas and
WHAT motivates them
helps new ideas grow and succeed. Learning from the success of Hamilton and speaking to employees where they are in a language they understand creates excitement around the new. Leading this way requires more front end planning but will result in a shorter path to the goal and happier employees.
Hamilton, the Musical – Bonus!
If you haven’t seen Hamilton, sign up for the daily online ticket lottery for $10 tickets to most performances (what a deal!).
Here are the details Hamilton on Broadway
P.S. If you win I would LOVE to join you!
Use, Share, Enjoy
I’d love to hear if these ideas were helpful
Drop a line and let me know.
Until next month…