I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately. Interesting how a pandemic can do that. Did we go from work environments that were stifling, confined and demotivating with a routine and structure that were rigid, to fabulously collaborative entrepreneurial spirited companies and start-ups with missions, visions, values, and strong ethos that we could embrace and get behind, or am I hallucinating, and it just sounds good?
Did these companies, organizations and start-ups get us at: We know you’ll LOVE us! I don’t know about you and yet I’m thinking it could be smoke and mirrors. In fact, sadly often, it is. Believe me, I’m not cynical, I’m an optimist that believes that things can and will change and yet we need to be realistic with what is – for now.
Here’s what I know …
Recently I was approached by a company that wanted to expand into other territories. We engaged in some great conversations over a period. After getting a better sense as to what they wanted and needed I suggested an alternative idea to an opportunity that was already positioned. I wanted to test; I suppose it was a test although I hadn’t considered that it was while I was suggesting it, I simply thought; “Wow, great that their mission, vision, and values embrace disruptive thinking and creative solutions. Now that’s something I would like to be part of!”
I suggested an alternative solution to help ease the immediate financial challenges this relatively new company was having and recognized that they needed the experience and expertise to build connections for growth. Although open to the idea, I had a feeling they weren’t fully connecting with it. They inevitably went with their original positioning, and interestingly, I knew, sadly, that they would. Why? Because they already positioned their thinking around an idea before having met others that could suggest alternative thinking. The bias was they had already convinced themselves that their initial idea was what they needed.
Ironically however the whole point in their desire to want to grow would have been to gather a further perspective from the experience and expertise they were seeking.
Oddly, it typically doesn’t work out that way.
We miss a lot when we’re stuck in our own knowing. We miss out on what others could be offering.
Another example of this; a friend of mine was asked to facilitate a program for a start-up company. What was supposed to be a 6-month gig turned out to be about 9 months – although, there were many bumps in the road.
I get it, it’s a start-up company that was working through a lot of kinks and exploring several variations in their delivery. Nonetheless, it was an unsettling experience for my friend as, at the 2-month period they announced; “We’re terminating your contract.” Then, just as quickly as they said that they didn’t. It was if to say: “You suck, but wait, you don’t.” Instead, they said …
“No, wait, let’s take this month to month.”
Meanwhile the audience/patrons in which my friend was facilitating was head-over-heels raving about how stellar work was being done by my friend leading the way. Words of; love, fabulous, professional, high-energy, thoughtful, fun, energy, positive experience, and engaging best described my friend’s work as said by those who experienced it.
Interestingly, there you had a relationship where the organization itself showed little respect and perhaps regard for the work that my friend was doing based upon their actions. There words on the other hand mimicked for the most part what their patrons were saying. Which meant it was a bag of mixed messages having my friend feeling diminished by the experience and yet energized only by the patrons themselves. That’s certainly an interesting dynamic. A disappointing one.
My friend summed it up beautifully; “It felt as if the entire relationship was about breaking up.”
There are several examples where inconsistency in behaviour and communication fall short. Full stop, in fact. Take the wellness space. I’ve noted this before in previous writing’s and yet I find it never gets old. I kid you not and yet apart from my experience, company reviews and friends working in this space I can’t tell you how many times President’s and CEO’s have said to their teams:
“You don’t seem stressed enough.”
“I don’t see any urgency in your work.”
“There’s too much laugher and fun being had. Get to work.”
“When I was working at [Fill in the Blank] I never left the office until my boss, owner, etc. did.”
“I don’t care what you think. Just get it done.”
Awareness? None to very little in these examples given above.
It’s rather telling when we do this dance to find that really it seems rather difficult for many companies to embrace better ways of thinking and communicating. I’m generalizing of course and yet it’s not that farfetched.
We do things based upon our experiences. If your entire career was working for an institution that had a manuscript of rules, do’s and don’ts and then you decide to create a start-up, then guess what, you’re probably going to take what you know and learned and transfer that thinking to your new company.
Which means that when you decide to create a start-up and expect the same rigid thinking as you did when you were at company XYZ … THAT’s where you start to mess with us.
OR it’s when you’re socially awkward and uncomfortable speaking with people and yet you still feel you MUST lead the company, desperately struggling to communicate effectively with your team, THAT’s where you start to mess with us.
Perhaps your incredibly long job posting (have you noticed how ridiculously long and wordy job postings have gotten lately?) has wonderful and embracing language of creativity, disruption, and uniqueness, only to learn that your hiring process is the exact same as it’s been since the 50’s. THAT’s where you start to mess with us.
The icing on the cake … I’ve been reading lately (brought on by the pandemic) several posts/articles from recruiters saying, “What should you do if you have a gap in your resume – oh my.”
Are. You. Kidding. Me.
The earth shall open and swallow your soul should you have a gap in your resume. “Sorry Sally, I see you have nothing here for 2020. Explain yourself.” Oh, but wait … no explaining necessary as the recruiters are suggesting your resume will simply be overlooked.
“Sam, I see a gap in 2019 just before the pandemic hit. What were you doing?”
Could it possibly be, and I really hope this is the case that Sam was off surfing for 6 months, enjoying his life and gaining a different perspective that he could share with whomever or whatever next thing he’ll be doing?
Am I being radical here?
Stop making things so complicated and get real with life. We want to share our talent, skills, creativity, experiences in a way that supports growth. We as humans thrive by progressing. We like to see results in what we do. Small or big, it doesn’t matter. We need to put one foot in front of the other and move. Movement and action.
Case in point. All the examples given above are based on fear. Please know that fear will not last long. People get tired of fear, and quickly. In fact, fear turns to anger when communication breaks down.
If you want action and growth – then start leading with openness and think about all the ridiculous processes and barriers to entry you’ve created to deflect rather than attract.
Be kind. Knock it off with your flowery language and eminence front unless you REALLY mean it.
Because this time … we’re not kidding