For as long as we’ve had a relatively free press, sex scandals have always made the headlines. So it’s not surprising that Me Too and the Catholic Church’s misdeeds distract us from our mundane routines. And the standards expected are hard to disagree with – unwanted advances and worse are not defensible. But it occurs to me that while we are paying attention to the high standards of care from public figures, even those who are not elected, we are not applying similarly high standards to ourselves and colleagues.
I’m sorry to say that, I am starting to form the opinion that just as “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” so do the “famous get politer and the unknown get ruder”.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- “Sorry. I know I was meant to turn up to the event that you had worked quite hard to organise, and I should have let you know (using the infinite communication methods available to me) that I couldn’t come, but I had to attend to an urgent matter”
- “ Please do not reply to this message”;
- “ …………..” which is the usual reply to a job application.
There are more subliminal instances now too. Try these?
- ‘I know I was supposed to pay you at the end of last month but I didn’t set a reminder, use the payment processing systems at my disposal or log on to my bank account to enter a figure and press send because, well, I don’t have to. It’s a lot of hassle to chase me for payment and if you do I can switch supplier at the click of a button.’
- ‘I’ll do business with you on these terms and conditions. I’ve had a lawyer draft them so that they protect me in 90% of circumstances and I’ve got the resources to argue about the remaining 10%. Although a contract requires offer and acceptance – a two-way transaction -we’re bigger than you so take them or leave them.’
There are ways of fighting to redress the balance. The faceless non-communicative HR department that we encountered at interview can come to our aid if we feel harassed, bullied or overworked. Goods and services purchased via the internet can be returned and the offence caused by them can be Tweeted to the company as well as to our followers. And that serial non-attendee can be deleted from our system. Permanently.
Pressures of price, delivery times, and new competitors who can innovate so quickly are ubiquitous and have driven us to look at what we can do differently to get ahead, stay ahead or just cope. The ease with which we can get things done, and the declining cost of new services such as Uber and Facebook, may have improved our lives as consumers but we have to stay vigilant, look for our opportunity. What is the cost to our sense of well-being?
If I was working with The Independent Group I would direct their Tiggerish enthusiasm to re-set our everyday standards, along the following lines:
1. Workers, work properly. Perfection is not the goal, diligence is. So no sending emails without the ability to reply, no unanswered emails even from those outside the organisation, nor anything else that you would consider shoddy, if you were the recipient. Instead, a desire to improve, as shown by acceptance of constructive criticism
2. Managers manage respectfully. No endless expectations of employees, nor abuse of your ability to withhold payment from suppliers or suspend services to customers without proportional consequences.
3. Owners act with conscience. There is a meme that an owner can act purely in their own interests and to do otherwise is to be overtaken by competitors who won’t devote so many resources to training, safety, the environment or living wages. But survey after survey demonstrates the benefit of acting in this balanced way.
Whether or not they adopt this I shall continue to use it as the template for those business people who would like me to mentor them. It worked for me and it will work for Them Too.