WORKING IN BOXES

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I have always found it odd that some managers strongly suggest that their employees do not stray too far away from their assigned duties. To do so would invite a variety of repercussions, up to and including termination. I once worked for one company that created a culture in which communication between departments was so restrictive that employees could receive a curt talking to if they did not follow the proper channels. What were those proper channels? Because there was, a military style hierarchy set in place one always had to observe the chain of command. Even bringing up an issue to a manager within the same department, but not your direct manager could land you on a virtual list of potential troublemakers. This seems antithetical to the current business ideal of “thinking outside the box.”

In many organizations, almost every department relies on each other for information or support in order to bring a final product or service to customers. Restricting communication between departments to only senior managers is not only counter-productive; it can lead to a literal stagnation of ideas. In these types of confined management structures, the only ideas that ever permeate the inner sanctum are those that already exist. I’m NOT suggesting some communication free-for-all where no protocols exist and anyone can reach out to anyone…. Or am I, rarely have my best ideas occurred to me during a scheduled meeting, and judging by the number of people who mentally wander away during meetings, the same could be said for many others. So why not break down a few barriers and at least provide some opportunity for department staff, at every level, to learn from each other.

The benefits of that level of open communication are that it provides employees a sense of shared decision-making and allows them a greater understanding of their role in the organizations success. In addition, business needs change quickly and many companies view contraction as a way to spur growth. Having teams of staff members who are at least comfortable within the confines of departments other than their own, will allow greater flexibility when change inevitably comes. By keeping employees boxed up within their own departments, you deny them the opportunity for personal growth; in addition, you deny the organization the benefits of fresh ideas and alternative perspectives.

~ Richard

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Companies Should Not Shy Away From Embracing Differences

By Alison Johnson

By Alison Johnson

It is not enough to simple acknowledge those that have different views or come from different places; welcoming and acceptance are high values, values which allow all employees to come together in a spirit of common purpose, trust and shared reliance. If your organization has committed to leading the way toward an environment which embraces differences in culture, gender, age, experience and perspective, then the next most important decision is how best to encourage and celebrate those expressions of rituals, artifacts, heroes and values that signify our uniqueness and demonstrate our commonality.

Navigating a potential minefield of politically incorrect missteps is one reason why most companies only offer token acknowledgement of diversity. One person’s values may be completely misunderstood or even found to be offensive to another. It is perfectly understandable why some leaders would prefer to remain as generic and neutral as possible. If real values are going to be a priority, the only real defense against bias and misunderstandings is education and communication. Positive relationships are established and honed as much through the trials of disagreement as mutual interest; certainly much more than generalized pleasantries.

The real gem to be found in embracing differences is that your employees will begin to feel as if your organization is where they belong. It is not necessary that the process be perfect, because your employees will feel the integrity of your efforts, providing that integrity actually exists. This may require a shift in perception of what your office, your employees and even your company image should look like. This is a huge step for leaders, I get that; nothing is more difficult for those who are used to being in control than relinquishing even a small part. Whether yours is a company that has many years in the market, or just starting out; when considering corporate values, it is not only the corporation’s which must be considered. Understanding the values of all your employees and embracing them will create a workforce whose dedication runs deeper than the temporary comfort of a salary.

~ Richard

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