Tag Archives: trust

Where did our trust go?

When I first moved to the UK, I could not believe how trusting people were here about your identity.  How delightfully simple it was to do most bureaucratic things!  Things which in other countries would take several weeks, lots of additional documents and several trips involving queuing at counters staffed by surly robots who made you feel like a criminal before you had even opened your mouth.  Here in the UK, everyone was unfailingly polite, even though I was a non-EU citizen on a student visa who had to go each year to review my status at the dreaded Lunar House in Croydon.

Nowadays I am a British citizen and how things have changed…

Yesterday at passport control at Heathrow I was asked why I had a different surname to my children and that next time I should travel with their birth certificates to prove that I have the right to be with them.  I tried to joke that they were welcome to keep the kids, but that didn’t go down very well.

This morning, I entered a shop with my own reusable bag and put a couple of items inside to take to the check-out.  As I was paying for them, I was sternly told that I shouldn’t do that, because I might be accused of shoplifting.  Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Whilst on holiday in Geneva, I booked plane tickets online and my husband was called by our credit card company (they refused to speak to me, because I am only the secondary cardholder, so a lesser mortal) and asked about this possibly fraudulent transaction.

I no longer dare to furtively adjust my tights on the street because there’s a good chance that my every move is being captured by CCTV.  I have to hurry  my children along when supermarket shopping, instead of enjoying a leisurely afternoon tea together, because the licence plate recognition software will not allow me to park for longer than two hours.  My olive-skinned husband has also on occasion been extensively questioned about his Greek ID card (which he can use to travel anywhere else in the EU instead of a passport).

All small things in themselves, tiny personal mosaics in the bigger picture of the UK’s gradual transformation into a surveillance society.   I, for one, mourn the loss of trust and amiability which made me appreciate British society in the first place.  Am I imagining this decline in human empathy and trust?  Is it inevitable in complex societies?  And why is this change particularly evident in Britain – is September 11th the cause of all this?

Happy New Year!


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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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