What’s wrong with work?_2

Work can and should work much better, according to Blaire Palmer, executive coach and author of a new book entitled “What’s Wrong with Work?”. In the third of her regular features, she explains how many workplace problems can be traced back to ‘Blurred vision’. 

Typically you will have numerous little (and large) challenges facing your business – sick leave on the rise, performance slipping, morale low, tensions between teams (and even within teams), high staff turnover and/or a general lack of enthusiasm.

The common response is to spot the problem and then deal with it. So if customer service is sloppy we send our people on a customer service course and hope they will come back transformed.

In my experience, such problems, although they seen unrelated, have a single cause – blurred vision. When the direction of the business is unclear, or when it lacks meaning to your staff and when they can’t see the part they play in its success, they start “acting out”. All of us need a sense of purpose in our work otherwise it turns into a drudge.

Creating a vision is critical, whether you run a whole organisation or simply a small team: 

  1. The vision should describe how your organisation finds its fulfilment. It declares the company’s intention with regard to the future it desires to create.
  2. Avoid financial targets. Think more about emotion – what is going to get you and your people fired up every day?
  3. It may take 3 or 4 days of concerted effort with your team, away from the business to get the vision right.
  4. Avoid blandness. Clichés such as “Be number one in our market” or “Achieve our targets year on year” are enough to make anyone want to spend the day under the duvet.
  5. Everyone in your team or business should be able to work out their part in this vision.
  6. Understand your people and what drives them. We all have values which dictate how we see and judge the world.
  7. Make sure your diary reflects the priorities implicit in the vision.
  8. Live the vision in your actions not just your words. You don’t just communicate by sticking flashy posters on the wall and sending out an email demanding adherence to the vision. You communicate by the behaviour you exhibit every day.
  9. Remember that being “visionary” is part of your job. 72% of employees expect their leader to be visionary (only 27% expect this of their peers).
  10. Tell stories. In your team there will be great examples of people who’ve lived by the vision; for instance an employee who went over and above for a customer or an employee who spent time helping a less experienced colleague.

For more about creating a vision and resolving the other frustrations of work, Blaire Palmer’s new book ’What’s Wrong with Work? The five frustrations of work and how to fix them for good’, is published by John Wiley & sons, £12.99, available on www.amazon.co.uk. To take part in the debate about work visit Blaire’s blog www.whatswrongwithwork.co.uk or www.tamingtigers.com     

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