I am an Uber user, and I love a good chat. My driver last week was explaining that Uber-ing was his ‘second job’ — something he needed to do to meet the mortgage payments. He did look a little tired…

Performing two jobs is challenging. And yet many of us, or our people, are unconsciously working two jobs every day.

  • Job 1: the one they are being paid to do.
  • Job 2: the one no one is paying them to do.

This second job involves looking good, covering up perceived weaknesses, limiting errors at the risk of complacency, and managing other people’s favourable opinions of them. For some, this second job has almost become the primary focus, and this comes at enormous cost to the business.

Being someone other than ‘ourselves’ is costly in terms of mental energy and productivity. The human brain can only do one thing at a time (yes really) and diverting attention and energy to second job activities drains the brain of its precious fuel, to the ultimate detriment of performance and time.

Are you working a second job? Or are members of your team or organisation expending energy on wasteful overtime?

Bob Keegan et al in their book An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organisation suggest that in order to realise the full potential of every individual, organisations need to tap into employees’ most fundamental motivator — a desire to grow and learn.

Humans are hard-wired to adapt to environmental circumstances. It is how we have survived and evolved as a species. We love to learn and we crave growth, development and well-managed challenges.

Millennials are fast becoming famous for making non-traditional choices around promotion and loyalty. They will choose (and of course I’m generalising, but the odds are good) learning, development, growth and lifestyle over title, promotion and dollars.

Unfortunately, a decade or two of belt-tightening, panic and bottom-line deadlines has created perfectionist cultures where leaders, with a need to meet unrealistic deadlines and ensure outputs, prefer to ‘do it themselves’ or only accept it done ‘my way’, effectively inhibiting creativity and learning through trial and error. Reward for effort and process has been usurped by reward for visible results that make us look good. It doesn’t seem to matter whether long term sustainability has been achieved — it’s all about here and now (think political elections!)

This has to change. It’s way too exhausting. And it’s a significant culture change.

A culture that supports this focus on growth has a number of key characteristics:

  1. A healthy relationship with failure

    An understanding that learning comes from making mistakes and learning from them. Leaders are trained in a coaching mindset and skills, and focus on rewarding collaboration and creative outcomes.

  2. Progress trumps perfectionism

    Leaders keep the focus on the progress that has been achieved over the need for perfect results and a lack of authenticity.

  3. An ‘ask for feedback’ culture

    Individuals learn to ask for, and thrive on, feedback that is welcomed and skilfully delivered.

  4. Meetings are useful

    Time is no longer spent on sharing updates and giving instructions. Problem-solving, deliberate debate and shared commitment are the ‘new black’.

  5. Everyone grows and learns

    Mindset and self-leadership skills are deliberately developed across the organisation at all levels. Everyone understands and embraces the culture of learning, growth and co-creation.

  6. Some get off the bus

    There is no tolerance for those who don’t integrate this thinking into their everyday behaviour, and they are encouraged to jump off the bus.

  7. It starts at the top

    Like all successful strategies, this mindset and the accompanying behaviour begin with, and are role-modelled by, leaders and executives throughout the organisation.

Take some time today to make sure you aren’t paying your people to work a second job, and start changing the conversations!