On bringing your whole self to work

wholeperson

Pilita Clark seems to have taken up a role in the FT, previously occupied by Lucy Kellaway, debunking fashionable corporate nonsense. Her latest piece takes issue with the trend to encourage employees to “bring your whole self to work”:

“This fatuous phrase has blossomed into ever wider use in offices around the world, where it masterfully suggests a company … is so anxious to please its workers it is happy to have them behave at work as they would at home. This is patently untrue. Companies want workers who are industrious and easy to manage. Workers, for that matter, are generally looking for companionable, civil colleagues who get on with the job at hand.”

Part of the problem that Pilita identifies is that nobody really know what bringing your whole self to work means: it covers everything from sharing your personal life with colleagues to bringing your dog into work. If her interpretation is true, it suggests that the notion of bringing your whole self to work has become so devalued through overuse as to be worthless.

This would be a shame since it has honourable roots in the human potential movement.

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Judging non-judgment

non-judgment day

All through my professional life, I have cultivated the quality of non-judgment. It’s a foundation of my work as a coach. Yet – as my increasingly trenchant views on this blog attest – I also appreciate space in which to exercise judgment and I facilitate others to do the same. Is it possible to value judgment and non-judgment simultaneously? I think so.

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The emotional context of business

happy workers
A healthy emotional climate is a competitive advantage

Organisations are emotionally-charged places.  But little of this ever reaches the boardroom.  This means that directors cut themselves off from some of the most important knowledge they need to hear.

Some organisations have a knack for creating great places to work which get the best out of their people.

John Timpson, the chairman of the Timpson chain of shoe repair shops, swears by his system of “upside-down management”.  He believes the people in his shops have the best knowledge about the business and that it is his job is to get management out of their way.  He insists on as few rules as possible and gives staff the freedom to set prices, deal with complaints and decide their own training needs.

The John Lewis Partnership makes everyone in the company an owner, conferring on each of them a responsibility not just to do their jobs but to contribute to the leadership of the firm.  One John Lewis employee – quoted in The Guardian – speaks of:

The “passion and commitment” that come from “being engaged, because you have a vested interest in making sure it works, for you and for the people you work with.”

These companies – both doing well in difficult economic circumstances – are successful examples of what the writer, Bob Garratt, calls the emotional climate of an organisation.  They make the emotional climate a source of competitive advantage, by ensuring that employee behaviours deliver excellent customer experience.

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