We set the theme for this newsletter nearly a year ago. Little did we know, at the time, that “Organization Strong” would be so well-timed. Today, American companies are faced with three major challenges: Covid-19, business survival, and racial injustice. It’s a complicated and challenging time to focus on organizational health. I am certain that all of you would agree that tackling any one of these issues, alone, would be a monumental task. Is it impossible to take on three at once? Is there an alternative? I think not.
The first time I was aware of the term “Strong” used adjacent to a city was after the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15th, 2013. When I think of Boston, I think of a strong people who will ban together to fight any adversity. I am glad that other cities and people have adopted that credo. That being said, “strong” is just a word, and although words matter, without action, it’s just a word like any other word.
This brings me back to the topic – Organization Strong. I light of, and in spite, of all that’s going on in the USA today, how do we behave has humans? And, even though the topic is “Organization” doesn’t it always start with individuals? Yes, it does. And, leaders today don’t just reside in the C-suite. Everyone can lead. It’s a good time to follow the words of Thomas Paine – “lead, follow, or get out of the way”.
Perhaps these ten ideas will be helpful when thinking about the role we can play, related to keeping organizations strong:
10. Be sincere. People should care about corporate health, but it’s really about showing you care about your people. And, most people today stay in a job because of who they work for, along with the purpose of the company.
9. Admit that racial injustice in America, has been around for over 400 years and no one has solved it yet and that you don’t have all the answers. Yet, creating safe places to discuss issues, with the people in your company is important. And if you are not a person of color, you should be doing more listening than talking.
8. Act. There is nothing worse than talk with no action. Put together a plan. If your goal is to create a workplace that’s as safe as possible from the potential of a virus, then put together a plan, with lots of input, and follow it.
7. Demonstrate empathy. Now is a time to seek to understand more than to be understood. People are hurting in so many ways.
6. Over communicate. It’s not the time to convey a business direction, or any direction, just once or twice. The combination of working from home and all that can be on a person’s mind: from job security, to marches, to children at home, to health risks. Be gentler with communication. Also, remember that emails/words can be misinterpreted so be careful.
5. Be transparent. How are those finances? Will there be layoffs? Can people work from home indefinitely? What’s the company’s position on equality in the workplace and how are we showing this today and/or tomorrow.
4. Provide the support one needs. Whether it’s one on one coaching, a psychologist holding office hours, career counseling, or a multitude of other wants, work hard to support your fellow man.
3. Don’t be a coward. Speak up against injustice.
2. Remember the words of Dale Carnegie. “When dealing with people, remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion” (okay…don’t email me and tell me people are logical. I know that. It’s just that, especially today, emotion rules).
1. “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” – Thomas Paine
I hope we are all learning all the time. My recent LinkedIn message was about a “trip to Abilene” People often just go along to get along, and they don’t speak up. We have seen it play out in many settings over the past few months. We see injustice and find it’s not our place or our time. Perhaps the time is now. To have an “Organization Strong,” we need to be “People Strong.”