The advertising world is very good at telling us what we want to eat, to read, to look like, to wear, how to decorate our homes and so on. It has a vested interest in us ‘wanting’ things so it creates needs we didn’t know we had until they told us! Very few of us are immune ( I speak as someone who has just acquired a flat screen TV- yes, we are very late adopters!)
Most of this is relatively harmless (unless you buy from companies which exploit countries, employees and use child labour!) as long as in our hearts we know what really counts.
Policy, Procedures, Politics & Overload
It’s not just advertising though. In our work we can get dazzled (or dazed) by policies, procedures, promotions, and politics and start to lose sight of the really important things in life. In the scramble to do our job well, get noticed, fight our corner, we can forget why we work in the first place, what our own bottom line is. Sometimes the higher up the organisation we go, the more disconnected we can feel with staff delivering service on the ground. This disconnect can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction which we fill by trying to do more of the things which took us there in the first place, or buying things to booster our self esteem and provide a justification for what we’re doing all day long.
No One is Immune
I experienced this myself. I started out in my social work career to make a difference, to help people have better lives. Yet the more I advanced the further away I found myself from my original aspiration and the more involved I seemed to get with minutia. It was very seductive for a while, feeling important.
My awakening came when I tried to evaluate just what contribution I was making to the very people I had started out wanting to help. It didn’t feel enough. Occasionally, despite being my own boss, it still doesn’t, and I have to go and reconnect, irrespective of whether this is a good move for my business or my purse!
I see symptoms of disconnect sometimes when working one to one with senior managers. They can get so fixated on their own roles that they forget what their organisation is there to do, what it’s like for those directly in touch with the public or customer. For example, a while back, while acting in a consulting role, I made a comment that staff would be pleased with something we had agreed (the agreement was achieved with some hearty debate).
“Oh well, as long as they are happy” a senior manager said in a voice heavy with sarcasm, entirely missing the point. The point was not to make senior managers happy but to improve service delivery on the ground; front line staff deliver service on the ground, either through sales, or service. Unhappy, demoralised staff give bad service and do not work well in my experience. Lose sight of that and you are on a hiding to nothing.
By the same token, your own personal satisfaction falls when you lose sight of your own personal values.
Go Back to the Floor
One remedy for managers is to get back out on the ‘shop floor’, whatever that might be. Actually go and visit staff, spend a day on the ground. get a real up to date feel for what goes on. I know one chief executive who spent a day on a public enquiry desk to better understand what staff were dealing with. It was very enlightening!
It’s a remedy for all of us, when we’re getting caught up in work battles and politics – remember what is really important to us. Keep your foundations solid.
What is really important in your life, and are you giving it the care and attention it deserves? How do you make sure that you keep yourself connected?
Posted on February 1st, 2011 by Jane