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I’m not sure if you’ve heard but in the U.S., we are hosting the freak show known as our presidential election. Part 90’s throwback and part reality show, this election is fascinating for all the wrong reasons: prejudice, misogyny, walls, email servers and a stunning lack of any real answers to the serious issues facing the country.
Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never really been all that involved in politics, of course I vote, but I typically tune out the noise until a couple weeks before the election. This year, I find myself fascinated, trying to figure out how we ended up with our two main candidates (by the way there is a third and fourth option).
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I recently read a great opinion piece describing the lessons we’re learning from this election and I think we need to learn some of these at work too. As our relationship with work changes, people’s expectations of the organization will continue to change. That means we have to heed the lessons we’re seeing in this election:
- Off The Cuff, not Scripted – People think Donald Trump is “authentic” and they think Hilary Clinton is “scripted.”
- What is means for us: The lesson is NOT to be as “off the cuff” as Donald Trump. That would get most of us (at least on the HR side) fired. The lesson is about authenticity. How authentic are your leaders? How authentic are you? When your leaders say they care, do people believe them? Or do you come across as an elitist jerk who will say anything?
- Word of mouth and social media are bigger than TV – From the article “Used to be the person with the deep TV ad budget won the war, i.e. the election, not anymore. Turns out no one’s paying attention, today it’s all social media, it’s all word of mouth.”
- What that means for us – social media can’t be ignored. I know many companies still put up “hiring” signs and run newspaper ads but larger companies or those who are seeking unique talent/skill set combinations can’t ignore social media. It is a huge market to show off your workplace, your people and your mission. For those willing to invest the time, it’s a great alternative to spending loads of money on job boards and print ads.
- Shrug off Mistakes – it’s cool to fail now. It’s good to “pivot”. Just Google “failure is okay” and you get a stunning 15 million That search returns a lot of positive stories about people who made big mistakes and were better for it.
- What it means for us – The consequences of failure at work will not be nearly as romantic for your everyday cubicle dweller. Rarely should a mistake end a job but there are always exceptions. Managers must clearly outline expectations and boundaries or we end up with “Why am I being written up for serving beer at a staff meeting? I’m trying to facilitate creative ideas.”
- Clear Messaging is Key – How many times have we heard “building a wall” or “I’m with her”? Those are short simple phrases designed to break through the onslaught of information we get from our phones, tv and email. From the article: “You can’t break through the clutter… if you can’t convey your message in a sentence, it’s lost.”
- What it means for us- How are you communicating with employees? Long, drawn out PowerPoint slide presentations? Carefully scripted corporate communications? Your employees are inundated with information. You need a concise, simple, authentic message. No one has the patience or attention span to sit through two hours of PowerPoint slides.