Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Time to Break the Cycle

Times are tough. We all feel it. Friends have been laid off. The economic climate is still uncertain and growth is slow. Too many companies have changed from dynamic places where people shared opinions to stagnant organizations where people are afraid to say what they really think.

And the worst thing? The current business climate lacks basic compassion toward others. With countless good people out of work recruiters and hiring managers fail to return phone calls and leave people hanging. People hoard information that could help others or fail to give credit where credit is due.

It's human nature to hoard when resources become scarce and lately resources such as capacity and opportunity are pretty thin on the ground compared to the good old days where someone could walk into a job in a matter of weeks and every position was double-staffed.

People are tired, worried and preoccupied with numero uno. And it's contagious.

So we can talk about teamwork, strategic recognition, career development, succession planning,etc., but none of that matters as long as real human beings in the workplace view management with distrust and others as obstacles or potential threats.

It's time to break the cycle. Some people have become more compassionate during trying times and I challenge you to become one of those people. You don't have to plant trees or sponsor a child in Bolivia - we'll start with baby steps - but there are smaller acts of compassion that each of us can perform daily.

Toward the Earth:
Don't buy that bottle of water - get a thermos.
Use your old iPhone another year.
Work from home.

Toward your family:
Hang your worries on that tree outside before you come in the house.
Have a movie night with build-your-own pizza or fajitas or fondue.
Play a cheesy board game.

Toward colleagues:
Show someone how to do something.
Praise someone behind their back.
Offer to help someone.
Let someone help you.
Be a mentor.

Toward your team:
Don't leave people hanging.
Help people pursue their interests and career goals.
Take an interest.

Toward strangers:
If you're a recruiter, manager or decision maker, respond to polite email inquiries.
Smile at someone.*
*But not in a creepy way.

Hopefully you're at a great point in your life right now - all the more reason to help others - but surveys show that most people feel frustrated in their current job. And maybe right now there's no good way to change that.

If only someone would help you. . .

But in the meantime, maybe there's someone you can help. Someone less well off than you. Someone going through a difficult time or overwhelmed or just starting out.

Can you listen? Or pitch in? Or speak up for someone? Or provide an opportunity?

Together we can make the world a slightly better place.

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