Organizations are facing tremendous pressure to change from both markets and technology. All the while, the manner in which we interact is also changing. Disappearing are the endless rows of cubicles and face-to-face appointments. These changes are refreshing and exciting, however the macro-forces at play have put a strain on good management, leadership and respectful relationships. Just in the last month, I have visited start-ups that think their futuristic office style equates to good culture. Employees don’t care about a CEO forgoing an office for an open workspace, if that same leader lacks the knowledge of how to treat employees, and build sustainable values.
In the absence of management reform, business leaders need to find better ways of coaching and mentoring. I believe we can all focus more acutely on the experiences that we leave on others. Imagine throwing a large rock into a calm lake. The circular ripple goes well beneath the surface of the lake, and carries-on, long past what you can see with your own eyes. You also create ripples of experience within your own relationship circles.
Everyone has an inner circle of coworkers, family and friends. The people nearest you are often the easiest to access, but they can be the toughest to impact. In the context of our corporate world, think about the “manager employee” relationship. The pace at which we need to deliver has forced many managers to become contributors, robbing them of valuable mentoring and development time. Employees have had to adopt concepts like managing-up, and self teaching. What experience are we leaving behind on an entire generation of young employees?
Nolan Bushnell recently posted an interesting blog about predictions for the next ten years. The post included interesting thoughts on where apprenticeships can fit in: http://blogs.sap.com/innovation/innovation/whats-next-nolan-10-predictions-next-10-years-01247661
Your middle circle represents a diverse range of business relationships: clients, customers, partners, vendors, and industry peers. This circle typically gets defined solely in very quantitative terms. What we tend to miss, are details surrounding HOW we deal with these people. As a professional service provider, I can confirm; customers and clients that let us genuinely experience their world, and value ours, receive greater results. Fair, maybe not. Simple human psychology that is likely not to change anytime soon, absolutely. Regardless of your “side of the table “, don’t underestimate the power of the experience you leave behind in your business relationships.
And finally, how much have you thought about the dynamics and power of your outer circle? The people farthest from you in proximity or intimacy, but maybe your biggest opportunity in terms of sheer size. Almost everyone in a leadership position has begun to grow his or her distributed network of online and offline connections.
With these large remote populations, first; be precise, transparent and consistent about how you engage or respond to your outer circle. And second, find a way to give acknowledgement and avoid the practice of silence.
Here is a great example from Kim Garst. Taking time to reply to a request, with a simple answer and best practice piece of advice. Kim is someone with thousands of daily followers and probably hundreds of requests for attention each week. She still finds time to answer and educate.
Embrace change. It is shaping the future of work that will inevitably reach your organization. In that process, find ways to be a stronger contributor by creating a wake of positive experiences that you leave behind.