I heard a vexed and interesting account recently of how managers in one organisation have been closing down office conversations. They have ruled no talking at the water cooler and have gone as far as discouraging staff from showing around photographs of their holidays and children. There we go with that control mindset again. It seems to take the view that if a workplace encourages socialising then there mustn't be enough work being done. I guess social media in that environment would be a no go.
A while back, I was visiting an organisation in another city. There the office was open plan and the meeting with managers took place in a glass panelled room, along one side of the office. Transparency. During the meeting the senior executive present asked if we would mind taking a break for a few minutes. A comfort stop? No. He had noticed that one of the staff had come into the office with her new baby and wanted to go over to wish her congratulations. The greeting and chat lasted only a few minutes during which he held the child. Pleasantries exchanged, we resumed our meeting and the staff their desks. This exec took the time to show interest in the staff member. Guess what that does for the tone of the place? The people I saw were relaxed and friendly.
Getting the work done? You better believe it, the organisation is gaining market share and features among the top 100 to work for.
In tough times, which of those two organisations would you be more prepared to put yourself out for? Go the extra mile for? Sure workplaces are squeezed at present and more is expected for less but we need the milk of human kindness.
Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.