Any of us who have ever watched a gangster movie or read one of the many novels about crime families and the mafia have heard the expression making your bones. The expression most literally is interpreted as committing a murder or execution on behalf of the family, becoming a made man or full member of the secret society.
Another interpretation that I would like to explore in a non- crime, non- mafia context is that of establishing your credibility as a professional.
As many of you know I started my career three decades ago in a profession at that time we called Personnel, these days we refer to it with a number of titles, most commonly human resources.
When I started my career in Personnel we did not occupy a space at the top of the pyramid. In fact my advisor asked me why I was wasting my talents pursuing a field that lacked professional credibility and the kind of acknowledgement of other real business disciplines.
A number of years ago I had an opportunity to attend a demonstration by a man named Monty Roberts who was the primary proponent of a new methodology of training horses. Although Monty is reasonably well known in horse circles a more common vehicle for the average person to connect with him is that the character played by Robert Redford in the movie The Horse Whisperer, was based on Roberts and his methods.
Conventional wisdom has been that you break a horse in. You teach them obedience by imposing your will on them. They learn to obey you and depend on you. Roberts’ methodology was and is a little revolutionary. Instead he argued you should give a horse the opportunity to join up with you. He explained that horses are a herd animal, they can’t survive in the wild on their own. Given the chance they have a natural proclivity to join up with other horses or even other animals of horses are not available. As my wife is an avid horse lover I have had a chance to see this phenomenon personally.
A colleague of mine created a model some time back that she calls KindExcellence. Her premise is that kindness and excellence and forever linked and that in order to have one you must have the other. I agree with her.
I have been a human resources practitioner, C level executive, and management consultant now for over thirty years and it concerns me how we seem to be losing some of our ability to be kind.
I don’t mean kind in terms of charity or graciousness or acts of philanthropy; but rather kindness in terms of tolerance and respect for the viewpoints and rights of others.
As I have watched the political debates, read the blogosphere, and participated in conversation the dialogue I hear continues to be more and more mean spirited and divisive.
I had two recent customer service experiences that couldn’t have been more different, and as a result, I started to think how the two establishments valued service and repeat business. In the modern era of instant communication, thanks to social media and the myriad of sites available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet, a recap of a good experience or a bad experience can appear anywhere from a small blog to thousands of YouTube views to the national TV news.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to become certified in what was then looked at as essentially a sales training program. I was working for a credit union at the time and like a lot of other credit unions we found ourselves at a crossroads.
Credit unions properly managed and run are not banks or banking light. Their primary purpose when they were created was to pool the resources of members and use that pool to provide loans to other members of that particular community to do things like purchase a first car, a first home, finance an education or the like.
The community aspect was very important. The community dimension was created because membership was usually as a function of belonging to a specific group; an employer, association, or some other connection. Credit unions are also not for profits, there are restrictions on what kinds of loans and the kinds of business they can do.
I admit it, I read a lot. I find myself very curious about many things not the least of which is the viewpoints of other people. Since I wrote my last post things have been pretty crazy.
I am working with a client to help build a bridge between philanthropy and businesses as one part of a new model to address some of our issues around the management of health and the delivery of health care.
To many it may be just a matter of semantics; but I see philanthropy as different than charity. Philanthropy to me has a connotation of investing in a larger cause or purpose. I am not saying charity is bad, but I rather like the idea of making investments in societal infrastructure to achieve a better quality of life for everyone and more comfortable for me. I don’t really like codependency between adults in any form very much.
I also see the management of health and delivering health care as being related, but different. I think that managing health is a collaborative effort that involves patients/people, providers, payers, educators, etc. in investigating and creating solutions; hopefully on a proactive rather than reactive basis.
My clients organization is mission driven, they are a not for profit. We have had interesting discussions about how their role in delivering health care is really the how of what they do rather than the what. It is really a delivery mechanism rather than the goal itself. We have been discussing of late whether the role of his team is actually an important bridge to that larger mission because it allows people from the community to get involved in a lot of ways that is not direct care giving.
I saw a statistic last week that said over 75% of people are not feeling fulfilled in their jobs. I know from my work in employee engagement that less than 30% of American workers consider themselves highly engaged and in many cases they feel they don’t trust the senior management of their organization or the leadership of the country. I find that very sad, but also a significant opportunity.
Well by tomorrow we will have survived our first week of 2012! I have to say for me so far my cautious optimism continues to hold out. Part of it may be bluntly that I live in Phoenix and we have been experiencing unseasonably warm, sunny weather. I know there are those who love the seasons, but bluntly I have lived on the East Coast and in the Pacific Northwest long enough that warm, sunny weather doesn’t bore me.
I am also kind of jazzed to see the stock market up a bit. I will be honest I don’t pay a ton of attention to it as a small business owner. I kind of tend to gage what is happening with the economy by my personal reality- do clients call me to do work and can they pay me once the work is done.
I am starting to hear more and more people talk about doing things differently as well. I won’t say it has become a movement yet, but I seem to be encountering more people recognizing that doing things the way they have always been done may not solve our problems and that working collaboratively rather than finger pointing may even yield some positive results.