Business feels different to me… do you feel it too?
Maybe it’s that I’ve changed and the days of being a ‘desperate to prove myself’ graduate are long gone. I think there is a growing feeling of change in business and society, and most definitely in terms of employee expectations from their job and career.
Maybe that’s not your experience and I’ve just found myself in an echo chamber of similarly minded people. If that’s the case, I’m more than cool with that.
Why? Because now my conversations with people are resoundingly positive. Not because of any lack of issues or problems but because there is less negative baggage disrupting our thoughts and intentions.
The focus is solely on improvement and finding positive solutions and making sure, as often as possible, that all parties involved ‘win’.
For years, discussions with colleagues and friends in business would regularly involve the obligatory company / industry / customer whinges. A bit of letting off steam is fine and most of us do value the camaraderie that comes from realising you are not alone.
However, for many, it’s more than that. It’s a self-protection and cathartic strategy - an attempt to avoid taking their frustrations home or unleashing them inappropriately at work.
Why is this occurring?
It’s a disconnect between work and employees. In many businesses, a ‘them and us’ still regularly exists, whether it’s between management and employees, sales and marketing, head office and shop floor. Whatever the appropriate separation lines of your industry or company is, I’m sure you can empathise.
Quick few questions –
· Do you really understand the vision and purpose of the business you work for?
· Do you know why that goal or target is in place and its part in a larger vision?
· Do you feel your colleagues respect and value you?
· Do your bosses take an interest in why you are in that job and that company?
· Do they understand your motivations and aspirations?
Are you rolling your eyes yet? If so, I get it. That’s fine and I don’t blame you for not reading any further.
But if you are still here, I think you feel some of this too.
Why can’t you do a great job, feel good about it, earn enough money and feel like you’ve contributed?
I hope that we’ve all had moments in jobs where things have aligned perfectly. Great colleagues, a manager that knows how to get the best from you and that you value, a challenging job where you can see or feel the impact you are making. It feels great doesn’t it!?
I’ve had a few of those spells over my career and they are what we should all be looking for rather than sleep walking through 35+ years of employment.
As an employee, do you really want to have those moments on a Sunday afternoon when you realise the weekend is practically over and you’ve got to steel yourself for another 5 days of frustration?
Or as a manager or employer, do you want to have to deliver another verbal ass kicking to someone who you can tell has mentally and emotionally checked out of doing their job? Instead of a motivated employee, they’ve become a work zombie, going through the motions until they can escape for the shortest of periods.
It doesn’t need to work this way.
Is it likely to change overnight? Probably not but we can all take steps in the right direction.
Let’s start trying to help our employees ‘win’ too, and that in turn will yield a more impressive workplace performance. Trust and empower them, don’t just delegate!
Let’s not use employee reviews as a chance to make people squirm. Make it an opportunity to improve performance or find out what is and isn’t working from an alternate perspective. No-one should be leaving those sessions feeling like they’ve not been heard.
Let’s not use the treatment of one employee as a lesson to others of the risks of not doing well or making a mistake.
I’ve said this to people when coaching on social media as a simple and golden rule – “Just don’t be a ****” – it applies here too (and to life in general).
Far more often than not, youdon’t need to give people a hard time or make their job harder than it needs to be, try and help or steer them in the right direction.
Most people don’t need to be told when they have made a mistake, they will already be giving themselves a hard time.
And please, let me be clear, I am passionate about positive business but this does not correlate to ‘soft’ or ‘non-commercial’ – far from it.
People within our businesses are a huge asset, I want to get the most out of them, not in a child labour factory kind of way but by empowering them and valuing them so that they have a strong desire to do a good job.
Richard Branson is well known for some of his business philosophies so I’m going to ‘borrow’ one here….
If you’ve made it this far, you must be a ‘glass half full’ person – thank you. I like your style.
Or I’ve really annoyed you and you’re just incredulous at how stupid I am.
I don’t think this modern expectation from staff is going to go away and I suspect companies will need to dramatically change how they handle employee engagement and social responsibility moving forwards.
A job for life is gone, command and control as the de-facto business model is short sighted. Conscious capitalism is on the rise.
Social media and the internet means that all individuals can have a powerful voice against a multinational corporation.
These are exciting times. Go forth, play nicely and see how great it feels to have a good day at work that isn’t at the expense of others!