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Listen! Your Organization is Trying to Tell You Something

Are you paying attention to your organization? The people? The processes? The sounds? Yes, the sounds of your organization can tell you a lot.

Silence is deafening – ever been in a house with kids and its really quiet? Like too quiet, so you go lurking to investigate the silence? Sometimes they are napping and other times they are into some tomfoolery. You need to think about that at work, too.

As with most writings, this one is inspired by true events. So here’s the set up. I went to the chiropractor to get an adjustment. I’ve been dealing with some discomfort and pain, so these visits really help. I arrive at the office, greet the Doctor and then I lay on the table. The Doctor begins assessing the situation – feeling things out and surveying the scenario. Now without me saying a word – he touches my right side and says “Yeah, this side is alright its moving fine, it’s the left side that’s stuck.”

I said “Doc, that’s interesting because the left side feels great, it’s the right side that hurts like a son-of-a-bitch.” Then he says, “Yea, I know – see the right side is working extra to over compensate for the left side, so it’s painful because it’s overworked.”

Hmpf. You smart HR folks can see where I’m going with this right? The entire interaction just stayed with me for a while.

Have you ever analyzed production issues or major problems within your company or department only to find that something wasn’t working properly and no one said anything about it?

Maybe you have a free-rider on the team; someone not pulling their weight and the other team members just divide the slacker’s work amongst themselves – effectively, overworking themselves and without griping at all.

Maybe you have a system that does not perform as expected and the users decide to circumvent the new system in favor of the old one. They just find a way to work around it.

But think about it a little. How many times has someone come to your office complaining about their workload and you just listen and categorize it as simple whining?  You have the same person or persons complaining about working conditions and so you pay it no mind, all the while there are other workers who don’t say a word – and we love them! Sure they may be fine or maybe they don’t complain because they aren’t doing any work.

Just like the Doctor’s diagnosis – the quiet side is not doing its part – it’s just flying under the radar while the other side works its butt off to keep things going.

The human body and the workplace organization are similar – you need a brain (CEO) – you need a heart (that’s us HR) and you need a backbone – nervous system (finance). They have to all function well together or your organization will need an adjustment in the form of some type of major process analysis and or reorganization. So within your organization manage the complaints and complainers but listen to the silence – or it could be very painful.

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