This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them. And, it’s dedicated to the millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.
- Partners would inform each other immediately – face-to-face or by text or by email – of the outcome.
- Employees directly involved on the pitch, in the office and in other offices, would also be informed as quickly as possible and ideally in a face-to-face meeting [conference call or Skype if necessary because of the schedules of the partners] with a chance for them to learn the outcome and discuss the implications for the team. ¬†This meeting would be relatively short.
- Other employees – depending on the size and nature of the news and it’s implications – would either receive an e-mail [while the pitch team was in their meeting] inviting them to a small group meeting with their partner, or to gather with the pitch team for a celebration or mourning
- Peers and colleagues outside the office would be informed as appropriate after that
- The partners and pitch team would create opportunities for debriefing and learning within the days following the news.
It’s a shocking fact that according to Canada’s health and safety website, “… every year work-related injuries and diseases cause nearly 1,000 deaths” in Canadian companies and organizations. ¬†That is nearly 3 work related deaths per day! ¬†That’s in a country with a relatively small population and well-publicised and enforced worker rights.
So, even though the two recent worker disasters in Bangladesh:
- a fire killed at least 112 garment workers at Bangladesh‚Äôs Tazreen factory who were locked in
- the building collapse at Rona Plaza that has reportedly killed nearly 400
The question remains what is the real cost of fast fashion and our seemingly insatiable demand for stuff? How many Bangladeshis are dying as a direct result of health and safety issues that could and should be changed? ¬†We don’t know. ¬†What we do know is that these deaths are avoidable.
Time to think about the impact of the story of stuff on workers…
What does health and safety and workers rights look like in your organization? Your supply chain? ¬†What role can we, as leaders and¬†professional communicators, do to change this very human disaster?¬†
Looking back to an Apple ad from 1997 for a little inspiration.
Where are the “crazy ones” in your world? “The misfits? The rebels? The trouble makers? The square pegs in round holes? The ones who see things differently?” Where are the people crazy enough to change the world in your organization?
What are you doing as an institution to support and encourage their crazy world changing ideas? ¬†If you’re looking for innovation, this may just be what it takes.
The psychologist Barry Schwartz, says in his fascinating TED Talk from 2009, that any job that involves working with people is moral work. It’s hard to imagine any institutional work that isn’t moral work.
According to Schwartz moral work depends upon practical wisdom. Building the reflex to know and do what is right is practical wisdom. But, he also says this skill is destroyed by the over reliance on rules and incentives. Since so many of our organizations are so rules and incentives oriented this can’t be a good thing.
How does your organization encourage moral skill and moral will? How well are you doing in building practical institutional wisdom?
For some inspiration, and some practical approaches to building moral capacity, check out Schwartz’s talk:¬†
With thanks to the Charter for Compassion and Marilyn Turkovich¬†for bringing this TED Talk to my attention.
There has been much written, especially since the financial crash of 2008, about how institutions and individual leaders need to be transparent and authentic. ¬†And, there’s been at least as much written by communication professionals and leaders about how difficult this is to achieve.¬†Are we just tilting at windmills? Let’s take a closer look.
The underlying assumptions: ¬†Institutions and leaders can be either
- authentic or not.
- transparent or not.
The first assumption. ¬†Every decision or action is a reflection of who and what they are; their fundamental values.¬†How could an institution or individual be other than what or who they are? ¬†We might not like what we see, but it is always authentic: ¬†good, bad or ugly.
As communication professionals and leaders this can be hard especially where our values are in conflict. The best we can do for ourselves and our organizations: ¬†Face reality. ¬†[see below]
The second assumption. ¬†There are two possible reasons for not being transparent. ¬†It’s:
- a conscious decision designed to hide reality [there are different ways to do this - spin, black out - but these are for another post] or
- unconcious. ¬†Leaders simply don’t know they aren’t being transparent and/or don’t want to know how to be transparent.
In the former, where there is a conscious decision to be opaque, then as a communication professional or leader this will be a question of whether this is in conflict with your values or not. If you find yourself in this situation, you probably need to ask yourself if you can live with the lack of transparency. There is nothing you can do to change this situation.
In the latter,¬†it’s about not knowing what they don’t know. As a communication professional or leader this is where there’s a real opportunity to raise awareness, educate and build approaches to ensure transparency.
Conclusion. This is the transparency and authenticity challenge. We need to face reality sooner than later. The only situation where a communication professional or leader has any chance of changing things is where their organization or leadership may want to be transparent and don’t know how. Then there are two questions we need to ask ourselves:
- How to find out if they really do want to be transparent?
- Do we have what it takes to help them get there?
Otherwise we will certainly continue to find ourselves tilting at windmills: Exhausting ourselves and our organizations.
“Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful.”
“Have and show faith and trust in your team.”
As leaders and communication professionals this is the kind of advice we get. It comes regularly and it comes often.
There’s something deeply wrong.¬†We want to build healthy sustainable relationship with employees. But taking this advice is almost certainly going to kill the relationship.¬†Let’s take a closer look.
First, the work employees do is either meaningful to them or it isn’t. ¬†If we’re ‘making them “feel” that it is, we are manipulating them.
Second, we either have faith and trust our teams or we don’t. ¬†Having and showing faith and trust in our teams when we don’t is also a manipulation. ¬†This time we’re manipulating ourselves.
Neither of approach is sustainable. ¬†And neither is good for relationship.
There’s a manipulation mania out there. Beware. ¬†It’s a bad thing?
It’s coming up on that time of year again. Year end results. Launching new strategies and plans – for brands, for products, for businesses. The big employee event. And, maybe an employee campaign.
A recent article in the Globe and Mail, “A question of engagement: do you employees want to come to work?” got me thinking about this. According to the report, 67% of Canadian employees aren’t engaged. They would rather be somewhere else, doing something else than coming to work. The article goes on to make two important points:
- An engaged workforce isn’t necessarily a happy workforce. [think about nurses - super engaged, but given their working conditions not so happy]
- An engaged workforce isn’t necessarily a productive workforce. [it may be a contributing factor, but just one of many]
- in knowing what they’re expected to do and how that work contributes to the overall ‘customer’ experience
- in having what they need – information, tools, workspaces – to make it easy for them to do their jobs well
- by developing leaders that know how to listen and to respond as well as to tell and motivate.