The Conscious Business
THE “EMOTIONAL ENGINES” DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESS
Last month we looked at the important issues of how value systems are critically important at both the company and the individual level. We discussed how excellence and a linked attitude of whether “It’s all about me and not all about we” needs to be discerned by employers in their employee base if the leadership aspires to creating a positive emotional exchange with its customers.
An unlikely source of support in this business argument is the Dalai Lama. His Holiness notes that in business we need to, as in wider life, to “Take the right view”, which has a lot to do with “accepting reality and staying positive”. He intimately sees the interconnectedness of the employer with the employees and both with their customers.
In this line of thinking a business is an energetic entity and in a sense has a form of karma that is the sum of all its actions past and present. In reality it is easier to grasp if we say that the business is a shell or container for the energies and actions of all the employees, the employers, and the interactions with their customers, suppliers, and environments.
In this space we view the organisation or business not as bricks and mortar, or black and white fixed artefacts, but as a pulsating, dynamic, set of flowing energies of its living breathing human resources. Walt Disney Corporation, which has mined our emotions for over 50 years with its childhood and entertainment services and products, refers to its employees as “emotional engines” who power their business.
The fuel for the successful business is the setting in place the emotional intelligence derived value systems that are taken on by each “emotional engine” or employee in the company. Excellence comes from the fact that the carefully chosen employee is already self-directing or running on their own fuel that is their own internalised and personal value system.
Such an employee then runs on both types of “fuel” in a blended fashion, where alignment of value systems promotes an unconscious competence in reflecting those values in an outward facing way to customers and other touch points internally and externally in the business. Such a business is focussed on their excellence, their customers, envisioning new products and experiences. Internal regulation is minimal as the value alignment from company to employee is high and trust and respect drives how the organisation manages itself internally.
Like an individual, one notes the business that acts in accordance to its value system has its most important “book of instructions” inside the minds and hearts of its employees. True empowerment results as the trust factor means that all the many diverse situations in business life that arise and confront employees in their roles, can be filtered through immediately the mind of the employee who knows that they can act according to the right principles and values of the business.
Even when the employee gets it wrong, they can trust that they will be right, inasmuch as the review of that situation and the decisions made will be viewed as a learning opportunity and not a blaming opportunity or witch hunt. Where an employee followed the company core values and relevant binding laws of the day, they are safe in their conduct. Wrong is still right in this paradigm.
Any lessons learned are absorbed at both the individual level and where needed at the organisational level as amended or new policy or opportunity. The individual and the business both grow and adapt to their changing environments and circumstance.
Contrast this with the organisation that treats its human resources as entities to be controlled and suppressed without trust or recognition of their dignity as human beings. I was shocked by a recent news report concerning BHP that is alleged to be true in their Australian workplace settings.
The reported news item states that “The Big Australian” as BHP once identified itself as, was now approaching business life with its employees akin to “The Big Brother Australian!!”. Apparently the allegations centre on a H.R. Department issued edict that compels all workers in how they arrange their workstations both during the work day, and when they go home from work. The minute detail and therefore attempted control over the workforce is not best practice in my opinion.
If true, BHP actually was starting to encroach on their employees personal core values of personal freedom, respect, privacy and family. The edict allegedly interfered with reasonable presentation of personal or family photos on workstations and screens. Staff allegedly had to organise the presentation of their workstations in a rigid and explicit manner. This sort of edict can only sever the trust and good feelings between workers and upper management.
The reaction on internet blogs, online news websites and commentary on radio was intense. Many people across society had a view on this quirk of approaching employee behaviours. The brand of BHP was not enhanced in the backlash, and any potential employees of BHP must have wondered if they would remain an employer of choice.
When leadership becomes management, and that management becomes inward facing towards staff, then alarm bells need to start ringing. The studies into “measurement madness” and the need to micro-manage staff show that beyond a certain point it crushes innovation, risk taking and resulting outcomes.
According to recent press reports it happens that some Centrelink outlets have a policy that an employee taking more than 5 minutes in the toilet is subject to investigation or challenge. Again such an approach is a sign of poor emotional intelligence on behalf of the persons creating such policies. Such workplaces become psychic prisons. Staff will either get resentful, sick, leave or under-perform in such environments.
Likewise in retail there is nothing more frustrating for customers than the employee frozen in fear, or rigidly obsessed with rules, such that some hiccup cannot be handled by them outside stated rules. Normally for an exception to be made would mean a decision being made, often in the customers favour, normally over an error or mix up in service or product.
There is nothing more emotionally frustrating for customers than the “bunny in the headlights” shop counter attendee who will not or cannot empower themselves to make a decision in the moment. When lacking a personal core value system, and/or a real company value system equivalent, there is no moral compass by which to guide decisions and behaviours. Shutdown and fear then result when something out of the ordinary occurs. Such staff retreat behind a fortress of rigidity and rules.
True excellence and enhancing a customer’s emotional experience comes when in the face of failure or hiccup, the employee turns around the situation and confidently acts in the companies and customers best interests. The customer’s expectations are exceeded and rectification is done with passion and a desire to create redress. The result is the customer will be blown away and may become a passionate advocate of your brand straight from the jaws of disaster or hiccup.
Emotionally intelligent staff know that every negative event is an opportunity to deepen their customers’ commitment and loyalty. This is because in the crucible of that uncomfortable moment a stream of rich emotional energies is flowing. The conscious staff member knows that changing the polarity of that energy and emotion from negative to positive will often sweep the customer into an equally positively charged experience. At worst it will normally lead to a neutral outcome which recovers any loss.
In this way, your best staff who know this art are alchemists. In ancient times alchemists turned lead into gold and added immense value to that material by having the skills of transmutation. In the modern era the alchemist in the guise as an employee is constantly transmuting negativity and mediocrity into excellence and passion. They find the gold in every opportunity or experience. Not every staff member can be an alchemist but having an alchemist on your team or at least one in each shop or outlet is a vital step to creating a customer focussed, emotionally positive, conscious business.
Next month we will look further at the alchemists in your organisation and how to prevent the defensive energies of the Inquisition in your company from persecuting them and burning them at the stake for their ideas, creativity and challenge to the status quo!!
If your business could do with some value creation and setting, emotional intelligence training or coaching then contact us and lets discuss how we can assist you in your conscious business evolution.
Bullying in the Workplace
In my consulting engagements I am coming across an increasing number of bullying dynamics within small and larger businesses. Bullies are like a contagion in the workplace. They can personally wreck the emotional tone of the workplace, suppress others creativity and make the workplace an unsafe place to be for some. The effects of such negative dynamics to the business, to staff, to the bully and to the victim is far reaching and is always to be taken seriously.
I have noted that the issue of workplace bullying is not always properly addressed at the policy, education and training, and core value levels of the companies concerned. With this in mind I have written a summary article titled The Problem of Bullying and Cyber-bullying in the Workplace. This discusses some of the key considerations that employers need to be mindful of when considering this increasingly common issue.
Leadership Matters – Left and Right Brain Interoperability
The concept of operating from both your left and right brain appears an elusive concept.
Our brains are “plastic” or can through habit and repetition “rewire” to operate via different pathways and in different forms. This is the concept of Neuroplasticity. There are some basic exercises which can assist the opening up of the brain to be able to multiple processes or to engage both hemispheres of the brain in adults.
In this segment I will touch upon some of the ways to engage the emotional or empathic parts of the brain in a way that is able and keeps a person connected in present time to higher forms of left and right brain thinking. Remember that the “old” reptilian brain and the middle Limbic brain are body-centric brains inasmuch as they are fed information and activated by the body. To engage the overall brain function in a new way is best served by including the body.
The best way to stabilise and develop the ability to remain connected to both left and right brain functions such that one part does not hijack proceedings and shutdown the other, is the art of mindfulness. A person is well advised to spend 15 minutes in their day walking slowly or sitting still, and learning to observe, curiously and non-judgementally, their habitual thinking tendencies as well as body led action impulses.
Mindfulness has a host of benefits for bodymind health in general as outlined in my article Meditation and Mindfulness Strategies. One aspect of this is that a person can after some simple coaching in mindfulness, become able to sit or walk and alone to mindfully track from their frontal cortex right and left brains, how a complex cascade of interplay occurs of physical sensations, movements, and impulses, gives rise to emotional and mental levels of cognitive processing and thoughts.
It is a whole new realisation of learning how thought and emotion affect the body and also how different physical sensations and movements affect higher order consciousness in both left and right frontal lobes or cortex. As a person learns how they uniquely organise and process internal experience this potentially can lead to breakthroughs and is a key basis for raising one’s emotional intelligence (EQ).
The good news is that the process of performing such mindfulness itself forces the left and right sides of the brain to function and co-operate, and over time is being shown to forge left to right brain interoperability.
According to respected neuroscientist Bessel Van Der Kolk, “mindful exploration of present moment experience is also thought to engage the executive and observing functions of the prefrontal cortex (left and right front brains”. This is key to changing brain functions.
Meditation is a related practice that is now well documented for its overall bodymind benefits. One good way to engage the brain holistically is to meditate where we visualise and introduce feelings into the meditation. It is here that anyone can actively work to create empathy for empathy and compassion are key states of being that develop and respond well to meditative practice.
There are some very good books, CD’s and meditative classes one can attend to “teach” the rational left brain how to correctly “think” about emotions such as compassion before then engaging with your own right brain by feeling those emotions, and so create collaboration between the left and right brain.
Remember that increasing one’s emotional intelligence involves developing such key integrated awareness and feeling states of empathy and compassion. You cannot fake it, buy it or substitute it.
If your business could do with some Emotional Intelligence training or coaching then contact us and lets discuss how we can assist you in your conscious business evolution.
Have a safe and productive month!!
Director, Conscious Business Australia