More, please sir…

May 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Linchpin, Seth Godin points out that our current work environment – based on the factory model of the Industrial Revolution – no longer applies. Even our schools are set up to train factory workers. (Why else would we sit kids down and expect them to listen to the same stuff we did when we were their age?) We can no longer keep our heads down and hope to make it to retirement; this is no longer what the workplace needs. It needs us to stand up and be counted.

Some workplaces are taking the first steps to ensure that communications are a two-way street. It’s been proven that employees aren’t looking for more vacation and better pay, they want their contributions acknowledged, their ideas taken seriously. Management is at a turning point: the best companies are finding ways to engage employees’ imaginations. The worst resist by restricting Internet access, discouraging flexible workdays. As Godin says, the time has come to facilitate the merge of our personal and our work lives.

It is also a fact that employees who are given the freedom to blend the two as they see fit give more of themselves to their work.

I have a friend who researches the industry he works in, and knows the issues. He’s the type who checks to see what’s happening, even on vacation. He has answers to some of the issues but no one has asked because it’s not part of his role – and since no one asked, he didn’t speak up. After 22 years on the job, he was escorted out of the building last week. He had a lot of friends, and this event will not go unnoticed. What message is management sending? That they don’t want this kind of engagement? Certainly all employees know that the loyalty contract no longer applies. Does this mean that employers do not even have to show respect?

What could Jim have done? Should he have been more vocal about his informed opinions? Could he have started an initiative by himself to strengthen one of the company’s weaknesses? Seth Godin says yes. He says that we all have a unique offering, we are all “artists” and it’s time we stopped thinking of ourselves as factory workers. What the world needs now is not more factory workers. But to be fair, was Jim ever encouraged to voice his opinions? He would say the answer is no.

More and more, workplaces are asking for employee engagement. Are they setting up a two-way street? Or is it just the latest talk that management has yet to walk? We want you to bring your creativity to work but we will judge it at the door and shut you down if it’s not taking the direction we think it should. And, by the way, we want you here for the requisite eight hours no matter what’s going on at home. Employees have x-ray vision – they see through this stuff . As one employee said to me recently: Basically, they are saying to us, “Be engaged. Help me make my house bigger.”

How can management and employees adapt to the new reality?


Both sides now…

April 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I wish my employees would care more about the company. They don’t seem to get it that their welfare is directly related to the company’s…

I wish my boss would tell us what is really going on. I always get the feeling she’s holding back information…

Sound familiar? Companies want employee engagement because they know how much it can affect the bottom line. Employees want to know what’s going on so they can feel invested in what they do all day. The link appears pretty simple: tell them what’s really happening and they’ll be happy and engaged. But there’s more. First you need an environment where people can speak their minds – without being reprimanded or ostracized or labelled. It sounds easier than it is, especially if a workplace culture has always relied on maintaining control by discouraging independent thinking. If employees have been encouraged to agree with supervisors they are not going to bubble over with new ideas. How do you find out if this is what’s going on in your workplace?

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