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Book Reviews

The Guide to The WellBeing and Performance Agenda

by

Professor Derek Mowbray

Published by the Management Advisory Service Ltd

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A Review by Chris Clarke FISMA

ISMA news
Autumn 2014

The tagline to the title of this book is “Making the workplace a fabulous place to work.” “What a marvellous concept,” I thought, and having been in the workplace from the early 1960s until the turn of the century, I am well aware of how rare it was for staff to develop a genuine sense of loyalty to their employing organisations that wasn’t wholly based on anticipated financial remuneration and/or promotion. Although in the latter part of my organisational working life, attempts were being made to change the culture of the organisations, top management frequently delegated change down the management chain, and all too easily culture change became a casualty to the latest crisis or change of top management agenda.

The last few years have shown a seismic shift in attitudes by both staff and management. There has been a realisation that staff are very expensive assets and need to be managed properly. Not only does that mean that they won’t need replacing due to them being injured, worn out, walked out or pushed out, but also they will become more engaged and productive as a result. A win – win situation surely. But how do we get to this idyllic situation?

This very useful book explains the process in detail and also in a progressive, easy to read way using a 5 step system. Step 1 consists of developing an understanding of what do organisations do in basic, generic terms. Step 2 consists of laying down a strategy for achieving wellbeing and performance. This step requires 5 individual strategies to be utilised, many of which are existing already in many organisations but are not coordinated to an overall strategy. Step 3 is in engendering a culture of Psychological Responsibility so that all become aware of their behaviours and take responsibility for their actions. Step 4 is about getting developing a culture that all staff of whatever level or grade, are engaged and accountable for sharing responsibility for the organisation’s success. Derek describes this step as the “Big Idea” that underpins the Wellbeing and Performance Agenda.

All of the previous “steps” form the building blocks for Step 5 which is the Wellbeing and Performance Agenda. This will embed the constructive behaviours into every level of the organisation that will result in psychological wellbeing and peak performance. There is a very strong health warning that this is a comprehensive system and if “cherry picked” it will not work effectively. This Agenda itself has 5 elements to be worked through and this forms the majority of the book. The book supplies questionnaires, exercises and comprehensive guidance all of which lead to the ultimate goal of “making the workplace a fabulous place to work.”

I have really enjoyed every word of this book and have been comparing it’s message to my own experiences of the workplace and found so many areas where both “we” and “I” could have done so much better. In comparison to the weighty volumes produced by many authors, this book is A5 size, with plasticised covers and could be carried easily in a pocket, briefcase of handbag, and is ideal for long train or plane journeys or bed side reading. It provides a complete package of work and is a must read for anyone starting out on a career as an organisational consultant.

Chris Clarke FISMA

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