Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Jonny Wilkinson Lesson on Employee Engagement

Cast your mind back to the glory days of 2003 when the England Rugby Team seemed invincible and were well on their way to winning the Rugby World Cup in Australia.
As history records, much of England’s success was spurred on by the innovative and successful kicking of the masterful Jonny Wilkinson, whose almost prayer-like concentration before taking penalty kicks caught the public’s attention and (no doubt !) sparked off thousands of conversations down the pub.
So, dear HR colleague, take yourself to 2013 and picture this:
With what just might be the last move of the match, Jonny is about to kick for glory against a normally invincible nation. A place in the final is at stake.
With the stadium shrouded in silence, Jonny carefully positions the ball, steps back and assumes his customary statuesque and contemplative position. Every eager eye in the stadium is on him. (Or, to be totally accurate on his right foot)
For some inexplicable reason you find yourself on the pitch next to Jonny with the opportunity to ask the One Big Question that has been exercising HR professionals since time immemorial.
The exchange goes something like this:
You:  Are you happy Jonny?
Jonny: What?
You: Are you happy? You know, cheerful. Engaged. That sort of thing.
Jonny: Don't know what you mean.
You: Well I work in HR and I'd like to know if there's any link between your level of happiness and your performance on the job.
Jonny: Sort of.
You: Tell me more?
Jonny: Well, let me see if I can kick this ball over the bar and between the posts, and then come back and ask me again. As far as I’m concerned, happiness comes after successful performance and not before it. And now, if you don’t mind, stop asking pointless questions and move out of the way. I’ve got a job to do.
You: Hmmm …
You leave the pitch. Jonny pauses. Jonny focuses. Jonny kicks. Jonny scores. The crowd celebrate.
And Jonny smiles.