From “star system” to “goat pen” …

Tonight, Shelton led our “Ropes” discussion, which was essentially a number of chapters discussing power, formal and informal, within an organization. Shelton described upward mobility in the terms of a marathon versus a tennis tournament; in a marathon, as long as you can finish, your successful in completing the marathon. In a tennis tournament, once you lose, you’re out. He then shared with us a number of examples where he had watched people that had been identified as stars in organization, but then, as things do, something happened in the organization that tarnished the star and put them in the “goat pen.”

We spent some time discussing the different sources of power, including examples of the informal power, such as an administrative assistant who, because of proximity to leadership, has access to information, gatekeeper authority, and a perceived level of power.

One of the examples, in chapter 47, talks about how people’s reputations can be placed in the balance when they’ve recommended someone for a job and that person is not performing to expectations.

In another example, in chapter 48, the author discusses the perils of working in an organization where a family calls the shots, and people who are related to the leaders get the choice jobs.

Shelton shared with us the example of a manager in an organization who is no longer on the career ladder, and therefore can take a stance were in the past they would have been forced to be compliant. In this instance, in chapter 50, Ben Franklyn simply refuses to attend and 8 o’clock meeting on a Friday night and knows that there will be no repercussions.

In chapter 52, people at The Company simply cannot bring themselves to ask Mr. Marsh what he meant by this statement ” exercise on this” … consequently, the staff go through unnecessary turmoil trying to make their best guess as to what Mr. Marsh actually needed.

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Who Moved My Cheese?

Tonight’s feature presentation (without popcorn) was a 20-minute video of the Spencer Johnson “classic” book, “Who Moved My Cheese?”

For the record, I did not like this book when I had to read it 10 years ago as part of my undergrad work, and I wasn’t thrilled with this cartoon either. But, okay, I get it: change happens, and we need to be prepared for it when it comes.

The main point of the book, and of this movie, is that people in the workforce need to learn to deal with and embrace change, as today’s work environment is one where change is often the only constant.

Here are the main points from the movie, as shared by Haw in his scribbles:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Change
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.

We can never assume that things will just remain the same, so we need to avoid becoming complacent. By moving beyond our comfort zones we can remain flexible and adaptive to new conditions, new rules, new procedures, and new cheese. Cheesy!

The EMOB-ing will continue until the morale of the crew improves!

On the night of June 9, I had the distinct pleasure of presenting part one of The Ropes to Skip, with one of the key takeaways being the importance of impression management, realizing that whether you’re trying to not you are making an impression on people, sending a message and building a brand in the workplace. This series of chapters also covered the importance of taking care of the people who are taking care of you; subjective measures to gauge whether employees are working hard, such as “presenteeism;” how critical it is to understand your audience and do your homework first before making an important presentation; and the concept of paying your dues.

Our EMOB exercise was a role-playing exercise called Change of Work Procedures, with the purpose of diagnosing and overcoming resistance to change, making the distinction between the quality of the decision and how well accepted that decision is in the workplace, and providing an opportunity to practice participative decision-making. I got to play the employee Walters, who works with two other colleagues on an assembly job and is at odds with recommendations for management to change the procedures  of the workplace.