Tag Archives: change

Creating A New Workplace Paradigm

I really like John Philpott!   Who is he?  The Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK.  I had found myself nodding in agreement as I read his blogs on the CIPD website, but I definitely came to this conclusion listening to the talk he gave last night at the CIPD Chiltern branch meeting.  http://www.cipd.co.uk/branch/chiltern

Dr. Philpott was talking about the challenges of HR in the current economic climate.  Unusually for an economist, he refrained from making predictions about the duration and type of recovery we are facing, but he suggested that the difficult times ahead could be an opportunity for rethinking the whole workplace culture and concept of employee engagement.  ‘Creating a new paradigm’ has become a bit of a  cliché lately, but as you will know if you have ready some of my previous blog entries, I really agree with him on this subject.  This is not only an opportunity, but a necessity!

Particularly in the private sector, employers have taken away security in the form of lifelong employment, solid pensions, training and career development opportunities from their employees.  This has been accepted virtually without protest for fear that the alternative would be severe job losses.  And in many respects I admire employers’ creativity in this recession, that they haven’t automatically reached out for the hacksaw to reduce costs.  But in many ways this has profoundly damaged the trust between employers and their employees, so going back to the old patterns and relationships does not seem to me a viable option.

The good news is that it’s not only up to employers to design and implement the newly enlightened, highly productive organisation.  It is up to all of us.  Let’s communicate in all directions, not just top-down.  Let’s put employees at the heart of the organisation for real, not just for lip service.  Employees need to show how they can be engaged rather than bought, management practices need to be reviewed, the gap between the ostensible organisational culture and the way-we-really-do-things-round-here needs to be closed.  As Tom Peters (another person I really like!) says, ‘I love the idea that the employee is a client!’

What do you think the productive workplace of the future will look like?  Can you think of any existing models for it?  What actions or words would help most to rebuild the employer/employee trust?

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Not resolutions again!?!

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. 

First of all, I think you can make changes at any point during the year.  I have a preference for making resolutions on my birthday or after I come back from my summer holidays, but everyone should find what works best for them and not succumb to an artificial pressure related to some random calendar New Year. 

Secondly, I have seen far too many people wish to start the year all squeaky-clean and virtuous, then fail at the first hurdle.  January is just too depressing and dark in this part of the world to keep the momentum going.  And then the snowfall which brought the UK to a standstill!  My running friends had made resolutions to stick to a rigorous schedule, but could not go out because of the snow and ice.  My weight-loss resolution friends found that they were raiding their freezers and cupboards for whatever was available, never mind the calories, as they couldn’t drive to the shops.  Meanwhile, I was stuck in the house with one lively chicken-poxed little boy and a slightly older, bored schoolboy, so instead of using my creativity for work, I used it to think up new games and art projects to keep the two amused and off each other’s throats.

Now that the snow is turning to slush and we all have time to breathe again until the next snowfall, I actually realise that I have learnt a valuable lesson about resolutions.  Namely:  There’s always next week.  Not in the sense of never getting started, always postponing what you know you should be doing.  Rather, it means that if you do get started and then things don’t go according to plan, you shouldn’t give up.  You shouldn’t think you have failed and stop doing things until the perfect circumstances come along.  Circumstances have an annoying habit of always being rather less than perfect.  Just go with the flow, and then get back to your resolution when you can.  And keep on doing it.  Small tracks in the snow where you went a bit adrift, but don’t sink in the deep snow.  Keep going back to the main path and you’ll get there eventually.

It may not sound like much, it may seem a really obvious lesson to some.  But you know what?  I knew it but I had never really felt it before.  So, resolutions, we are old mates now, not enemies to fear!  And there’s always Chinese New Year for setting some new ones….

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Who wants to be serious all the time?

Some of my friends have told me:  ‘Sanda, we really like your blog, but do you have to be so earnest all the time?’  So, just for you, my dears, here is an easier read for a change.  I thought I would share with you some of my favourite quotes about culture, change and just getting along with people.

Culture Quotes:

Trust Gandhi to encapsulate in one quote all that my work and my company, The Culture Broker, is about:  ‘I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides  and my windows to be stuffed.  I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.  But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.’

Octavio Paz, who was both a writer and a diplomat, also echoes my thoughts very well: ‘What sets the world in motion is the interplay of differences… Life is plurality, death is uniformity.’

Margaret Mead, of course, was an anthropologist, so not surprisingly she wrote: ‘If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.’

Quotes about Change:

Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.  (Gandhi again – that man seems to have produced one memorable quote after another)

The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails. (W.A. Ward)

Our world has greatly changed; it has become much smaller.  However, our perceptions have not evolved at the same pace; we continue to cling to old national demarcations and the old feelings of ‘us’ and ‘them’. (Dalai Lama)

We are moving toward a global economy.  One way of approaching that is to pull the covers over your head.  Another is to say: It may be more complicated, but that’s the world I’m going to live in, I might as well be good at it. (Phil Condit – ex-CEO of Boeing)

And finally, on a more light-hearted note, here is a quote that seems to be doing the rounds on Flickr and blogs, but no one quite knows where it comes from:  ‘Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it.’

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