Lindsay’s In Business: PART 44: We’re only human after all

IMG_0056What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

It’s 8pm and I’m at Copenhagen airport waiting for my flight back to The Netherlands. For the past two days, I’ve been at a communications conference in an amazing old University building. All considered, it was a worthwhile experience. I presented at my best on the first morning – “What is Social Alignment and How It Links to Performance”. Today I got two solid leads. Very pleased.

The other presenters talked about communicating in change, about how to facilitate a virtual group, about psychology, and about all sorts of other stuff. I find the stuff about how humans work most interesting. Apparently, the average person makes around 35,000 decisions every day. Great stat! (Trying to find out where it came from). And I really liked a guy called Antoni Lacinai – great speaker – who argues that the analogue world is more important than the digital world. His piece included this (paraphrased):

Social media makes

  • Consumption go up
  • Empathy go down
  • Envy go up
  • Quality go down
  • Impatience go up
  • Attention spans go down
  • Distraction go up
  • And the level of our connection with the real world go down.

It’s so true. The hard-earned people skills still pay off. And, of course, with my now well-ingrained views on the importance of structured dialogue to involve people so they can make sense of things in their own ways – I’m definitely an analogue fan.

So much so, that I found my cynicism about organizational communication practices at large, come to the surface. I was arguing with some of the statements that were made at the conference in my head, the overall theme being that the role of the communicator is to ‘get people on board’ with something, that the company is ‘right’, that employees need to ‘see that’. It feels so wrong!

What I heard What I was really thinking
“We have to motivate employees” You can’t motivate people, they have to motivate themselves.
“We need to get them to care” People will care when it makes sense for them to do so – and it won’t be because you persuaded them to change how they do that
“We need to make sure that messages are getting through to the Millennial generation.” It’s not about ‘getting through to them’ it’s about relating to them on their terms.
“We need to make sure that what we are trying to tell them is getting through” We need to be listening to what people are thinking and feeling and having a dialogue that is about sharing meaning rather than ‘telling’ and wondering why it didn’t seem to get through.
“Internal communications is the glue of the organization” Internal communicators bring glue – other people use it.
“We need to advocate and prove the importance of the communications profession.” Why? The outcomes should speak for themselves. If communications are not having a noticeable impact, they’re probably not being impactful enough.

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole approach was turned around? How about a campaign that talks directly to employees and demand their active participation, with messages, such as:

  • “We’re nothing without you”
  • “We are only what you shape us to be”
  • “People only have a place in this company if we can understand their views”

Here’s another thought…

Just imagine – what would it look like if all company communication activities (except information sharing) just stopped right now? Everything – except super-urgent mass memos.

The answer is that people would rely exclusively on their immediate leader for news and direction. Leaders would have to get a really good grip on what’s relevant to their team and be able to share it in their own way. Interesting thought…

Am I going too far with all of this? Why aren’t other people at the conference saying what I’m saying?

Mirror Mirror – the process that accelerates team alignment for improved performance and innovation. By enabling a better shared current reality between people with a shared goal, they make better, faster progress:

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