Last week, as I was walking to the train in downtown Chicago, I overhead the portion of what must have been a very interesting conversation. The woman had just finished telling the man something-I don´t know what-but she looked both exasperated and relieved. He said, "God bless you! I thought I had issues. Now I feel much better."
How many times have you held on to something thinking you must be the only one in the office who´s a) upset b) annoyed c) confused d) left out etc? A lot of issues do get worked out in informal ways-outside away from glaring eyes and curious ears, in the elevator on the way home, in an e-mail (be careful there!), and other venues that don´t include a conference table or your boss office. Still, it might be a good idea to formalize these venting sessions. You might learn something, but how do you create a system for venting that won´t wind up offending most of your staff or take up too much time? Indeed, how do you create a community in the workplace, one that people trust and respect?
I asked Nathan Greeno, president and CEO of Drawing Board Consulting Group and the author of the new book, "Corporate Learning Strategies," what he thinks about creating community in the workplace. Here´s what he had to say:
"One of the difficulties facing organizations today is the lack of connectivity and relationship development between people. This spurred on by the mechanistic drive toward numbers and people becoming the proverbial "cog" in the organizational production cycle. In many organizations this alienation between people is enhanced by the increasing numbers telecommuting and the emergence of the remote workforce. Nonetheless, individuals desire connection. They desire relationship. At a very fundamental level since the beginning of time, we humans thrive on a community of connections. When we drop our level of "connectedness´ in the workplace, we create a greater void where there is already a great need. Think of it in these terms. In a day and age where so many people have at home DVD players and fancy theater sound designed to meet the desire for the convenience of an in-home movie, why do we flock to the movie theater in record numbers paying four to five times as much as we did when we were children? The answer is simple. We desire community. It gives shape and form to our lives in that experiencing something in the presence of "community´ we gain a sounding board for ourselves that adds volumes to that same experience."
Tomorrow I´ll tell you what he has to say about how all this impacts the workplace.