In the run up to the Big Day I thought I’d present my top five Christmas wishes. In reverse order here’s number 3.
Wish #3: I wish emotional intelligence becomes a valued trait in the workplace.
Few people set out with the intention of harming their workmates be they their staff, their peers or their superiors. However I have ceased to be surprised by the inadvertent mayhem we chose to inflict on people around us in the workplace.
The bulk of my year has been dominated by redundancy. Anticipating it, being told it, managing its impact on my staff and coping with its effects on me and my family. But it’s easy to fall into thinking that everyone around you really understands what a bloody awful process this is.
They don’t. They say they do. But they don’t. Really, they don’t.
If they did they wouldn’t have chosen to write to me in such cold and impersonal ways. And about such trivia. For years you may have heard next to nothing from your HR function or senior management. Then suddenly you start to get a stream of emails, letters and intranet announcements. But don’t look for warm words about your contribution over the years or anything but a perfunctory regret about ‘having to let you go.’
Nope, you’ll begin to wonder what sort of extra-terrestrial body-snatchers have suddenly taken over the job of designing the content of communications with you and your colleagues.
But it’s not just the direct communication that you’ll find sadly lacking in emotional intelligence. You’ll find yourself increasingly irritated by ill-directed round robin communications about vital issues facing your organisation. You’ll be irritated because these issues post-date your unwelcome exit from the building. Frankly, you’ll begin to lose interest in the strategic management team’s vision of the challenges ahead. If they had been that good at strategic horizon scanning a couple of years back you might not be on your way now.
Of course your strategic leadership wants to put the best possible gloss on things if only to cheer up the survivors of the first culls. But peoples’ senses are pretty well-tuned. We can all smell the blood in the pond where we operate. So it’s both daft and self-defeating to pretend that organisational trauma can be alleviated by an up-beat note from the top.
Another manifestation of the ‘business as usual’ theory of management is the need management feels to keep your programme full to the brim with ‘exciting and fresh opportunities.’ Unless these are tailored towards helping you find a berth somewhere else you’ll rapidly find your interest waning.
Management will feel it’s providing you with therapeutic activity to take your mind off things. What you’ll feel is that having been mugged by management they still want to be your friend. Of course it doesn’t work like that.
Of course all the while you’re feeling wretched you’ll have the treat of the political classes queueing up to take cheap shots at public servants generally and maybe your bit of the public sector specifically. You know they can not help themselves but this won’t make you’ll feel any better. In other circumstances the levels of self-congratulatory ignorance they and their media-cheerleaders display might make you worried about their fitness for office. These days you’re more inclined to shrug and wonder why you ever thought it might be different.
Launching a demoralised and undermined cohort of public sector workers into the labour market must be part of some well-founded plan for the economy as a whole. Mustn’t it? I mean this couldn’t be an accident could it?
Greater emotional intelligence from workplace leaders and politicians would be a lovely gift to all of us redundant and other public servants in 2011. We’ve all had more than enough of management and political gunslingers shooting from their hips. Sadly, I don’t think any of us will be holding our breath though.