Workplace Millennial: Hope powers your company

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Hope. It seems quite a radical notion these days, what with Trump, Brexit and the impending doom of a seemingly inevitable climate disaster. 

That’s not the kind of hope I mean though. This kind of hope is much more mundane. What’s more, it’s fundamental to everything any employee ever does for your company, from creating an amazing new product to taking out the trash.

No One Does Anything Without Hope

We’re going to do a little philosophy. Philosophy of action for anyone who’s interested in finding out more. 

Forget for the moment any big, beautiful, world-changing ideas you have about “hope”. Every human action is done with hope. If there was no hope that the action would be effective, you would not even start. It might be conscious or unconscious, overt or implied, but it is there.

That is why rock-pushing was a punishment for Sisyphus. The aim was to get the rock to the top of the hill, but it would always roll down again. He knew he could never succeed - there was no hope.

Hope Drives the Workplace

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Think about why you just sent your colleague that email asking them to do something. Why did you send it? Presumably because you had some hope that:

·      They would read it

·      They would take it into consideration, rather than dismiss it out of hand

·      They would act on it

·      What they do will turn out to help rather than hinder you

If you didn’t have at least some of those beliefs, why would you ever have bothered sending the email? You would not have wasted your time – you would have just done the thing yourself.

Look for this feature of all your actions today, you’ll see it in everything. No one wants to be Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain – if you’re going to push rocks, it had better worthwhile.

How Workplaces Crush Hope

So, in a workplace, everyone from the youngest to the oldest is hanging on hope every minute, with everything they do. Unfortunately, we all crush other people’s hope in lots of little ways, often ways we barely think about.

Here are a few workplace behaviours and procedures, big and small, that make colleagues/employees feel like a little Sisyphus:

·      Not responding to emails – see above

·      Sending too many emails – so they come into work knowing they’ll never get enough time to do the important stuff the emails have asked them to do 

·      Giving people work they never see used – whether it is used and they never find out/see how, or the person asking just sits on it, either way it feels pointless

·      Doing (repetitive) tasks without seeing how it ties in to a bigger purpose – arguably a subset of the previous bullet point, but deserves separate recognition

·      Asking their opinion and never acting on it – everyone disagrees, not every idea is good, but if giving your view never goes anywhere then why bother?

There are many more – I’m sure you can think of plenty. Even in thinking about it you have made a great start: Awareness is everything. It is the start of changing the culture from hopeless to hopeful. It takes work to change processes and behaviours. That, in turn, takes leadership.

So, here’s looking at you leaders: do you want your company’s culture to stand in the way of employee satisfaction, or facilitate it. Because you’re either doing something about the barriers to hope, or you’re part of crushing it.

Adam