Authentizotic organizations – the solution for low engagement levels
In this new millennium, the importance of individual’s psychological well-being for the organizational inner functioning should be one of the main topics addressed by every manager. And this is directly related to creating workplaces that are healthy – where people find meaning in what they are doing and are captivated by their daily activities.
Once a year since 1983, Fortune Magazine comes up with a list of “most admired American companies” based on criteria such as: the quality of management, innovation, commitment to ensuring a healthy environment and so forth. But does admiration answer the question: Are these companies the healthiest places to work for?
Fortune magazine answered to that question by later publishing a list of “best companies to work for” and, this time, the criteria taken into account was the employees’ great pride to work for these companies, a sense of camaraderie, trust in management, a sense of meaning, belonging and enjoyment.
Organizations that meet all the human needs mentioned above are what the author Manfred Kets de Vries describes as authentizotic companies. According to his theory, the lack of employees’ engagement is a recent phenomenon which is connected to changing the working environment.
The label authentizotic is derived from two Greek words: authenteekos and zoteekos. The first emphasizes the idea that the organization is authentic – as a workplace label, authenticity implies that the organization evokes admiration for its employees through its vision, mission, values, culture and its original structure.
The term zoteekos means vital to life – in the organizational context, it describes the way in which people are invigorated by their work. Employees in organizations to which the zoteekos label can be applied to feel a sense of balance and completeness.
So what exactly do authentizotic companies do different?
Some of the world’s most respected companies – world-class authentizotic companies – are globally recognizable: General Motor, Microsoft, British Petroleum, Wal-Mart, IBM are only a few examples.
Many of the managers leading these organizations have fostered a strong sense of purpose for their employees, while implementing the process necessary for a global extension. In their own search for meaning, these leaders have created a strong vision that clarifies what the organization stands for, highlights the company’s fundamental purpose for existence and recognizes the importance of each employee’s contribution to the company’s success.
When it comes to hiring new employees, these organizations are very selective, wanting to be sure that the new hires will embrace the values of the company. In an authentizotic company, the management communicates in a clear way not only how things have to happen, but also why they should happen.
To foster a sense of belonging, according to Kets de Vries, these organizations favor an amoeba-type structure – when units become too large, they are splitted, or they create small companies within the umbrella of a larger company structure, in order to form flexible units and allow all employees to relate and interact with each other. Authentizotic companies try to minimize hierarchical differences and become flat organizations, spreading responsibility throughout the entire company.
Manfred Kiets de Vries is his book The leadership mystique: Leading Behavior in the human enterprise, presented authentizotic companies as being responsible to provide the “AIR” necessary to foster innovation:
A – Give employees Autonomy to encourage creativity;
I – Encourage Interaction between employees to create synergy;
R – Recognize employees contribution to company’s success.
Basic motivational needs, what we can simplistically label “love”, “fun” and “meaning” are at the heart of authentizotic organizations, as well as at the heart of employees engagement, like proposed in the MAGIC formula of Tracy Maylett and Paul Warner, who believe that increasing, or implementing measures of meaning, autonomy, growth, impact and connection will eventually lead to employees’ high level of engagement.
Because authentizotic companies strive for a low level of organizational stress (the consequences of stress are reflected in high levels of absenteeism, performance decline, conflicts and so on) and help their employees maintain an effective balance between personal and organizational life, these are the organizations we need to hope and aim for.
- Manfred, F. R. K. de Vries (n.d.), Creating authentizotic organizations: Well-functioning individuals in vibrant organizations
- Manfred, F. R. K. de Vries (2006), The leadership mystique: Leading behavior in the human enterprise, Pearson Education
- Rego, A. and Cunha, M. P. (2006), Perceptions of authentizotic climates and employee happiness: Pathways to individual performance, Aveiro University