This week, systemic coach Zita Tulyahikayo and barrister and NLP Master Practitioner James Pereira QC remind us of the importance of acknowledging everyone’s contribution to the organisations within which we work.
Nature is a beautiful system. Balanced, adaptive, generative and consistent, it never ceases to inspire wonder, far beyond anything that man can offer in its place (as the ratings trouncing of X –Factor by Blue Planet II testifies). One feature of Nature that operates beautifully yet almost unnoticed is the interdependency and synergy of its parts, including the seemingly small players. Soil would remain infertile but for the constant work of numerous micro-organisms that labour unseen beneath our feet.
None of us are immune from this inter-dependency. We could not survive within our own bodies without the billions of micro-organisms that inhabit our gut; or the beautiful mitochondria within all of us that perform cellular respiration, yet retain their own, separate DNA: a wonderful and mysterious vestige of an ancient symbiotic relationship far, far older than human kind.
The organisations we work in are not nearly as beautiful as Nature. But like Nature, they too rely on a contribution from everyone engaged in the activity of the firm or the work of the team. Most people when asked who the really important people are within their firm or team, would probably single out the leader or most influential people first, whether they make their judgment based on an internal reference system (“Who is important to me?”) or an external one (“Who is important in the eyes of others?”). They might also identify people who they are responsible for in a professional capacity: trainees or junior associates, for example.
But what about the seemingly small players: the staff who arrange the refreshments and catering, the cleaners who ensure that your bin is empty and your reception is clean and neat in the morning, or the administrative team that ensures your documents arrive on time or that your pay cheque hits your account each month?
The people responsible for these and similar tasks are an integral part of the work system. A critical and essential part, yet often unseen. Their diligence gives others the space to perform their own tasks without distraction – you only have to think about what happens to your focus when the coffee machine or the photocopier stops working, or the sandwiches fail to arrive for your meeting. Their work is also integral to the impression clients receive about your organization: the cleaners’ work is the first thing on display when anyone reaches the door of your office building.
Most importantly, they are a central part of the work that goes into delivering the overall experience that clients will enjoy – or not – and which will in turn create lasting client relationships, a glowing reputation, and a growing practice – or not. It is worth remembering that overall client experience is often a more powerful factor in building business relationships that the quality of the advice or service given – as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his excellent book “Blink”, few people sue a doctor they intuitively trust, even when told that the doctor has been negligent.
So look up from the page or away from your screen, and think about and observe everything that has been done and is being done to support your position within the workplace. Your IT works because someone makes it work. Your coffee is hot because someone services and fills the machine. You can admire your reflection in the windows and mirrors in your office because someone cleans them for you. Like you, those who provide a supporting role have needs, aspirations, interests and concerns. Express your sincere thanks for their services. Take a genuine interest in their welfare. Find out how you or your firm can better support them. This is not just a better way to live. It is also a better way to run a business.
The authors welcome feedback from anyone concerned with the issues raised in their writing, and are also interested in hearing from anyone with suggestions for future articles. You can reach them at @LifeTherapyZita and @JamesPereiraQC.