Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To corporate… or not to…

It has been awhile since I last posted here: I make no excuse for it. I was simply not able to put the ideas onto the white area on my screen. Not due to the lack of ideas, but the due to the lack of energy to think though ideas, and explain them in a clear, concise, and meaningful manner.

I made an assumption about the corporate world some time ago, and that I can now prove wrong. This assumption that the being a corporate citizen would be an opportunity to do all things that’s imaginative, creative, and extra-ordinary. While this may be true to an extent that you are crating all things business, it does not hold true at the realm of personal life. Reality however is that mundane is the call for the day – and most times especially when you are at a junior level. Cognitive excellence or the perusal of tasks that challenge the psyche, in my opinion, is sidelined. The result is the slow and steady erosion of the energy required to churn out great ideas.

Here are 7 insights that can help you lead a more meaningful working environment

1. Teach the business: This is a great way to keep people stimulated (legally). Allow people to take time to understanding the business model, its strategies, its people, its clients, customers, and competition. This process helps gain vital insights that most people have no access to. Get to know what happens behind the scenes and become an expert of the business.

2. Contributing ideas: Corporate organizations are most often guilty of failing to listen to junior employees. Junior employees are sometimes blatantly ignored and are told to concentrate on the assigned task while the more “senior” staff focuses on strategy. That kind of process only goes as far as to maintain the status of those higher up in the ladder and does absolutely nothing to develop and engage junior talent.

3. Direct involvement of functional managers in training, mentoring, and encouraging employees: This should be happen at all levels. Managers must make it a point to personally see that junior employees link functional activities with the organizations goals in meaningful ways.

4. Spot top talent early and move them rapidly: A complacent manager will wait until their top-talent resigns to offer a promotion or position. Teams must learn how to promote a fast-raiser fast. Meritocracy is important here – waiting in line would only mean that those in the back (top-talents) would find alternate organizations who are willing to give them the fast pace recognition.

5. Invest in their talents: Statements such as “head-office does not approve”; “we are cost-cutting” (that’s grammatically incorrect though); or “we have no budget” should never be used. Investing in the development of talent should never be compromised or substituted.

6. When you say “9 to 5”, mean it: While organizations boast of a work life balance (or work life integration), they rarely do enough to actively push for a meaningful agenda that supports either of those initiatives. Teams need to pay attention to employees who tend to work late – that behavior should never be condoned nor encouraged but frowned upon. The reason being that silence breeds an environment that encourages a 9-10 work culture.

7. Realistic stretch assignments: While stretch assignments are becoming a buzz work in the workplace, there is a thin line between what is stretch and what is overwork. The word “stretch” is more often being defined though the idiosyncratic perceptions of various team leads. Define “Stretch” that is mutually agreed upon. Make stretch fun.

I still struggle to answer the original question: to corporate or not to corporate. While research and training can be real fun, perhaps I can find a middle ground.