Hope for our Future

If you love your job and workplace, don’t read this. If you aren’t happy, or you are a manager with troubled employees, please read this and pass it on to every manager and leader you know.

This is not a brain tip. It is a rant. I can’t keep it in any longer.

I have a confession to make. I have been training people in corporations around the world for 27 years. I describe what I teach as classes in leadership, communications and personal effectiveness. In truth, I mostly teach people how to cope.

Even my coaching and speaking is focused more on strategizing how to survive than on how to achieve.

During this economic downturn and times of chaotic change, it only gets worse. Especially in the US, I see managers using this excuse to revert to micromanaging, blaming and putting a lid on creative efforts.

Is there no foresight? The US is losing stature in the world marketplace. Now is the time for creativity and revamping the old hierarchical cultures to make them smarter, faster, and stronger through open communications and participation.

I wish the leaders who are cutting back could see the tears and anger when I try to teach their employees one more way they could do their jobs better. “My boss doesn’t treat me the way you say I should treat others,” they tell me. “Did they attend this training? When will they practice what you teach?”

Mostly what I teach is how to really see the people we work with…to hear them, understand them, acknowledge them and see their highest potential. From there, team building, leading, and collaborating are easier skills to implement.

Why do leaders who have read all the books, heard all the gurus speak, and attended all the seminars still manage by fear? They don’t include their employees in decision making, they don’t share information (good and bad) about the future, and they don’t trust people to learn from their mistakes and grow. Can we change this habitual behavior?

People don’t work well when their managers don’t trust and believe in them. When you take away their feeling of control over their lives and predictability about their future, they lose hope. Without hope, you will never get their best, creative effort. They will cope, survive, and try not to dwell in their fear.

Worst of all, most managers don’t work to develop their employees to be strong and autonomous. Rarely does a company pay money to develop their high achievers (I am thankfully working with a few who do). Most training for managers focuses on what to do with poor to average performers. What about developing the high-potentials? Shouldn’t a company focus their resources on their strengths?

According to a Net Future Institute (NFI) survey of 2,000 execs, 66% of people working in large organizations would rather work in small or midsized firms. What would make these defectors stay? They want the space to risk and grow, and they want confidence in their leaders.

It’s not all bad…I do work with a few progressive companies that recognize the world has become more networked, collaborative and accessible. They are easing their hierarchies, opening communication and engaging everyone to co-create. They teach their managers coaching as a leadership style. They engage their employees by caring, not by fear.

That is why I don’t retire. I still have hope.

Drop me a note if you still have hope, too. I would love to hear about it.

And pass this on. I would love to further the conversation not about what needs to happen, but how we are going to make it happen.

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