Is your company glass half full or half empty? If you hear “I told you so!” used a lot in the workplace, you know the answer to my question.
Consider how your colleagues work, interact, communicate, create and make decisions together. Are employees sequestered into groups based on functional roles, titles, pay grades, levels of education and generations? Alternatively, does everyone sit at the table?
Unfortunately, I hear and see professional exclusion played out daily in the organizations and associations I speak with. Often, this professional exclusion is either unintentional or, in fact, the accepted cultural norm.
Whether unintentional or cultural, exclusivity keeps the company glass half full.
Two engineers excitedly told me a story (really a use case) about how they designed a test to determine why a specific machine’s productivity went up and down like a yo-yo. These STEM professionals were impressed by the software tests they ran, working with other engineers in the manufacturing plant.
Except, the engineers were speechless when I asked them why they didn’t start on the plant floor: basically ground zero for the problem. (My advice: Avoid workplace “I told you so.” Start exploring root causes for problem by starting on the plant floor, front door or loading dock. These employees are your often marginalized experts. They hold the keys to practical problem-solving and cost-savings.)
I have to admit, initially, those engineers perceived my simple question as an insult to their intelligence. After all, they figured out a solution which was both elegant and expensive! Except, in retrospect, the engineers realized they were professionally exclusive. They admitted that including machine operators in their story had never occurred to them: either as their first (or even last) problem-solving option.
Professional inclusion starts to fill up the company glass.
So, we all took a little walk down to the plant floor. Those engineers finally asked the machine operators about what might be a proposed solution to inconsistency in machine productivity.
The plant floor folks started to smile, and then chuckle. Their answer? When certain raw materials from certain suppliers ran through the equipment, productivity increased. And, when raw materials from a different supplier, ran through the equipment, productivity decreased.
As a result, the machine operators nearly always would predict productivity outcome within 100% accuracy. They did not need all the fancy (and expensive) software and statistical process control tests which enamored the engineers.
Can you imagine the look on those engineers’ faces when the expert machine operators turned to them and asked: “Hey, we would have told you so, if you asked us in the first place!” 😉
If professional exclusion in the workplace is the story, then you keep company glass half full.
My professional mantra is: “Depending on where we sit around the table, we ‘see’ the same things, differently. Shouldn’t our differences become our opportunities and strengths to better serve our customers? And each other?”
Often, the people we professionally exclude from our decisions hold the keys to the common sense, tribal knowledge and subtle observations that fill up our company glass. Regardless of whether, or not, they have big fancy titles and academic degrees.
However, when these valuable employees remain neatly organized and excluded from making contributions, everyone remains very busy. Working full time. At only half the capacity of what is possible.
Have I just described the typical story of your workplace environment? Let’s change your story, together. So everyone can get to where they need to go.
When you better serve each other, you better serve your customers. Take the next steps.
- Planning your next corporate or association meeting? Engage me to present one of my Storytelling for STEM Professionals and Left Brain Thinkers speaking programs. Contact me here.
I am an extroverted STEM professional and left-brain thinker specializing in professional innovation, cross-functional leadership and client retention. I catalyze professionals to translate across communication and collaboration disconnects. Become more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant and strategically valuable to your organizations. Better serve each other first so you better serve your clients together. One millimeter at a time. My One Millimeter Mindset™ virtual and in-person speaking programs leverage Voice of the Customer design methodology and storytelling to move individuals, teams, departments and organizations one millimeter beyond yesterday’s tools and today’s professional comfort zones My playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact me here.
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