I was on a teleconference with managers from around the world. The scheduled briefing would update us on the next round of staff reductions. We sat patiently, muted, on hold, while music played in the background. Ironically, the Righteous Brothers began to sing, “You’ve lost that loving feeling.” We listened and then the refrain, “You love that loving feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone, oh oh oh oh.
We spend more than a third of our waking hours on job related activities. Our relationship with our job can be filled with richness or rivalry. Are our needs still being met? Do we express excitement and commitment? Is the fire still there? Are we growing and improving our skills and growing closer or separating? These are very important questions. If the answers are negative we will not be able to resist temptation and resort to flirting with every viable option that shows interest.
It may seem trivial to compare employment to a committed relationship, but there are contrasts and similarities.
The Early Days
The honey moon signifies the early stage of a romantic relationship when expectations are high. We are compatible with our mate, find delight spending time together and never seem to tire of each other’s company. We can’t wait to get back to work or in the arms of our companion. In a corporate relationship, to borrow a concept from Situational Leadership, we are the “enthusiastic beginner.” We are filled with the joy of feeling we made the right decision. We anticipate many years of financial satisfaction and career success. We don’t know what we don’t know, but we are committed to the partnership.
But when the honeymoon is over, we realize it is harder than we thought. We become the “reluctant contributor” or the “disillusioned learner.” We begin to take each other for granted. We make unbelievable demands and forget to ask for input on matters that affect each person. At times our actions of entitlement display our arrogance and insecurity. We seem to say, “There are people out there who would love to take your place.”
Subsequently, as in our personal lives, we regret going to work and begin to hold back our passion and cooperation on projects, meetings and assignments. We do just enough to get by and maintain our position. Everyone knows the thrill is gone, because we lost that loving feeling.
When people feel they are not appreciated, their mind first drifts to greener pastures or better opportunities. They cruise the Internet job sites, wants ads and solicit referrals for better options. The relationship analogy may seem to breakdown when discussing loyalty. You may say people have a right to seek a job that pays more money. However, there are many people who will stay with a company that may not pay the most money, but satisfies them in other ways. The company is concerned about their personal and professional development and they are treated with respect and paid a decent wage. There is a part of me that feels our transience in personal relationships may be influenced by our transience in our professional relationships, but that is an entirely different conversation.
A possible cure for losing that loving feeling may be the type of culture environment we create. Do we make each other feel important, special, needed and appreciated? Do we listen to concerns and opinions? Can we laugh with each other and at ourselves? Do we try not to take ourselves too seriously? In an organization, leadership is practiced at every level and people are supported and encouraged to improve their skills and reach their potential.
When people generally care about each other, it sets a strong example of how people should be treated. When we pay attention to someone as if they are the only one in the room, it inspires them to give more and achieve their personal greatness.
The practice of instituting routines and rituals that keeps a spark alive is essential. When we become too predictable, it sometimes equates to dull and boring. How can we inject vitality and creativity into our relationships? It may be helpful to read books on relationships to gain insight into how to improve matters at work and at home.
We should explore ways to list the similarities and differences in our personal and professional connections. It may be safer to do this individually rather than in a group setting, otherwise it could really get out of control.
Companies remember birthdays, anniversaries (employment and marriage), customs and holidays, while being respectful of religious beliefs. Organizations volunteer in community events and encourage their teams to be good corporate and community citizens. I am not suggesting date days or date nights at work. However, I think you get the idea of the value of bonding around a mission and vision.
Training programs that have multiple applications increase the velocity of adding value to the participants. If we use this same technique we will add creativity to our lives and enable us to improve in areas we never thought possible. It is amazing when a training program at work, enables us to be a better parent, mate and member of society. When we are stimulated on many levels it is almost impossible to lose that loving feeling in the areas that are important to us.
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