Sunday, August 31, 2008

Care in the workplace

If care were a stock being offered on the market, it would be a wise commodity to invest in at this time on the planet. Care will soon be on the rise because everything else has been tried. --Doc Childre

While caring is a characteristic noted in philanthropic work or purely service businesses like health care, there are broader implications where care is not as prevalent a topic and should be. The care of employees, of customers, of communities around the world that are impacted by our businesses. I would go so far as to say if business leaders are not empathic, compassionate, and caring, then their success going forward will be compromised. 

This week I'm going to lunch with the VP of my division. A busy man, traveling all the time, sent me an invite on his first day back from vacation. And then came to my desk to make sure I received the invitation and to make sure I understood that he invited me to lunch to get my perspective on what the company is doing that makes sense and what's "just stupid". (His words not mine.) "You were hired for your opinions as well as your talents." In other words, I count. A rare straight-forward statement that opened a whole new world of caring in the workplace for me.

This new job is making me a kinder person. Our Division President gave his monthly town hall two weeks ago and he was emphatic about listening to the voice of the customer (VOC), so much so that he is including VOC metrics in every business and employee review. Because I'm new to the role as well as the company, I am spending a lot of time talking with people who are experts in areas I know nothing about, and they are patiently helping me up my very steep learning curve. I imagine their advice as a helping hand that's reaching down as I trudge up this mountain of vocabulary, processes, and requirements. The internal politics are virtually zero, and despite the strong structure and culture, they have maintained a feeling of a flat organization where ideas, opinions, and questions from everyone of every level are encouraged, valued, and vetted. It is nothing short of remarkable for a company that is so old and so large. And it's driven by the care and concern of individuals. 

Business leaders are famous for spouting trite cliches like "it's business, not personal." On this one, I'm with Meg Ryan's character in You've Got Mail: it's ALWAYS personal. Everything in life, anything that involves people, is personal. We cannot continue to disconnect the business aspects from personal aspects of doing business. The line is blurring to a point where it's barely even distinguishable. The sooner we embrace the fact that management and leadership are personal, service-oriented endeavors, the healthier our world economy will be.      

Images above can be found here


Ayelet Survivor said...

A caring Fortune 500 company? Amazing! I'm so glad they appreciate you :)

Christa said...

Thanks so much for your comment! It is truly AMAZING!!! I'm still in shock :)