Tuesday, 27 November 2012

thoughts from Dubai...

We're in Dubai this week.

 I share with you a few thoughts based on a humble parking bay space...

Here is a parking space at Emirates Airlines HQ. It's for the Chairman and Chief of the group; who isn't in.

Now it could be he got helicoptered onto the roof or more likely driven to work in a Lexus for an early meeting, but there is nothing in the environment outside or inside the building to say that such is the case. The environment outside the building however suggests that he isn't about. Given that most people will pass this bay on their way into the main entrance, this has huge implications.

Like many organisations that are large and growing, there is ambition to connect the outside messages and brand to the inside culture and communication.  Folk talk about stitching together and aligning and joining up the parts etc.

For me, programmes like this live or die on the investment given to all employees. If you invest in your employees, they will, unconsciously and often spontaneously arrive at new thinking, creative insight and behaviour that not only benefits all those around them, but also translates to the wider populations of customers and consumers alike. fact.

If culture is 'how we are around here", then that is lead by those at the top. All this is obvious and straightforward; and often forgotten.

Having parking bays, corner offices, separate lifts and so on creates a different set of behaviours within those who make use of them and those who do not. At the hidden level, this undermines any culture change programmes or at the very least creates a set of road blocks in making them happen successfully.
There was once a conscious decision - maybe even a series of long meetings with PowerPoint and flip charts! - to discuss the layout, size and position of the Chairman's car parking space. Eventually, some poor noddy in 40 degree heat had to lay the slabs of stone and cement set a sign that says 'Big Top Dog goes here'. As soon as the concrete set around that sign, so too was the message "you're not as important as this person", along with "in fact, we'll put special attention to this type of person and not you, so you'll have to work out how important you are in the scheme of things".

The trouble with this type of message is that it's hard for a.n.other member of staff to work out his or her place in the fabric of the building. It's clear where the head honcho goes, but what about me? Where is my investment and how will I be recognised for it?
All sitting at an unconscious level, these fears will drive behaviour and action.
Your internal comms can spray and pray as much messaging as they like, but as long as there is a parking space for the boss outside, words land on deaf ears.

Better it would be - I believe, that everyone fought over the same parking spaces. That way I know that amongst all the cars in the staff plot, there might be the boss's. Indeed, it might be the one I've just parked next to.  At the same human level he and I are the same. We went to work along the same road and saw the same world as I did and now we're in the same building facing the same challenges - together as equals.

I get that the leaders need to run a business and they have different pressures, but no pressure is any less or more important that anyone else.

By having an empty space, whether the guy is in the building or not, there will always be those who think they are working alone, without support and in a done to fashion. The trouble with our imagination is what ever is perceived to be true - becomes so in the power of the mind.

A little thing makes a big difference.

Just my opinion. I might be wrong...

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