Remember the first time you played the game "Operation"? As a child, this game may have found its way under the Christmas tree or into your waiting arms while celebrating some other momentous child hood memory.

I remember; it was a game of skill (or at least a steady hand was required) that was played by family members or neighborhood kids that kept us entertained on those long Midwest winter days when it was way too cold to play outside.

The objective of the game tested our hand-to-eye coordination as we pretended we were 'doctors' while inserting metal tweezers into holes on the body of 'Cavity Sam'. We attempted to remove certain organs of Sam without touching the metal edges and setting off the buzzer. And of course the most fun of all was when we were startled out of our wits while demonstrating our best effort to remove one of Sam's vital organs; only greeted by a loud "BUZZZ" at which time we had to give up the tweezers to another player! Getting startled by the buzzer was the most fun! We knew it was coming but we were alarmed all the same. At the end of the game the player who accumulated the most money by carefully extracting "organs" such as the Adam's Apple, Wrenched Ankle, Butterflies in Stomach, Spare Ribs, Brain Freeze, Writer's Cramp, Bread Basket ....(well I think you get the point), was declared the winner. I suppose indirectly, we were learning first-hand how the REAL HEALTH CARE system would work in the future.

The story of Mr. John Spinello who invented the game "Operation" back in 1964, was recently in the news as a result of Mr. Spinello falling on hard times. This story caught my attention and brought to mind not only how much fun the game was to play but also what lessons of the game might relate to the manner in which some organizations respond or not to employee engagement strategies or opportunities.

Think of it. Would you rather go to the doctor before or after a health issue is discovered or would you rather be startled by the buzzer? Certainly, most of us would prefer to visit our primary care physician well before any major issues surface in order to avoid alarming results. In order to be proactive, we would prefer to pay attention to the symptoms or even better yet, we would prefer to realize and accept a general regimen of preventative care to avoid even the symptoms. After all, chest pains maybe a symptom of a more severe cardio problem that carries with it severe consequences.

Just like scheduling a periodic physical, organizations need to at least periodically (personally I think more constantly) review their people strategies in order to determine if they are responding to symptoms in the organization or to the root cause of undesirable results; in any case, some action is certainly needed before any major people meltdowns occur.

As an example, ABC organization might be having a problem with turnover in a particular front line position that is vital to their success. The high turnover is contributing to the symptoms of poor performance with customers, reduction in productivity and increasing operating costs. Self-diagnosis is one option. However, if the organization attempts to perform a self-diagnosis, they might conclude that there is a problem with the recruitment process, compensation or even their benefits package because the tendency is to address the symptom because that is what creates the pain. However upon a more in depth analysis of the symptoms, the root cause of the turnover maybe connected to an ineffective training regimen or front line management leadership and a misfire in communicating the department's mission to employees. This behavior confuses and frustrates employees, alienates them from their leadership and that alienation leads to employees wanting to work somewhere else.

So what actions can you take proactively in your organization? Like the doctor at your physical, Orgwide can assist you in conducting a more in depth diagnostic of your people strategies based on accepted HR best practices and help you draw connections beyond the symptoms; to their root causes, in order to determine a course of action. If you want to learn more, go to our website or contact us. And don't be frightened by the buzzer going off. It's really just an early wakeup call.

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