This got me thinking about settings in the workplace. What maybe worked well a few years ago probably need adjusting now. Or perhaps we need to return to previous settings: honesty, integrity, service. Taking the camera as analogy I wondered how sharp my own settings are these days. Sharp? Am I up to date with what's going in my area? Or is my picture blurred or distorted in some way? How sharp would I look if someone were to take a picture right now? Poised and alert? Or tired and jaded?
The ISO settings on a camera determine speed and responsiveness to light. So how do I respond? Quickly or slowly? In the gloom of an economic uncertainty can I turn my lens to light from other sources? The "optimalist" effect.
The camera on my phone has a zoom function. So how do I focus on challenges at work? In detailed close-up or zoomed out to the big picture? Do I use the flexibility of the zoom function or treat it as a fixed focus which only sees the challenge from a single perspective?
There is a feature that I rarely use. You know the timer button on the camera that allows you to delay taking the picture so that you can move to be in it. This brings to mind terms used in NLP; associated and dissociated. In the first you you form a picture of your experience as if seeing it through your own eyes. In the second you experience it by seeing yourself in the picture. Association can be great if your experience is a positive one. Less so if it isn't. The ability to dissociate and see yourself in the picture may allow you to become more resourceful by zooming out from a negative experience to gain more information, insight and even objectivity into what's going on.
Allocating time and space to recalibrate settings is an important skill in today's workplace squeeze. Take a moment to consider your own settings? What is working well for you? What could you adjust, replace or tweak? What one thing do you do really well and could you upload and share that picture to appropriate people in your workplace? What would you like to set as your new default positions?
Got a picture of that? So do I. Worth a thousand words, isn't it?
This picture was taken in a gallery of the Roman Baths in Bath and shows a tombstone of an Optio in the Roman army. An Optio was a soldier chosen by the Centurion to assist with the smooth running and discipline of the 100 strong cohort. They acted as a second in command and their task was to work with the rank and file legionnaires to ensure that orders of the day were carried out. The role was a responsible one and Optios could expect to be paid twice as much as an ordinary soldier.
The picture shows the Optio holding a scroll, perhaps containing commands, and a staff. Looking at the ancient artefact I made a connection to organisational life today and wondered if 21st century middle managers are the new Optios? Their bundle of papers tucked underarm a symbol of today's orders of the day? The centuries have taken their toll on the tombstone and the head has not survived. Another link with today as so many aspects of organisational life can appear to have us running around headless.
Optios were an essential part of the Roman organisational machine, and it is interesting that they were chosen on the basis of trust. Optio is formed from the Latin word optare meaning to choose and you can see here the origins of the word options or choices. It struck me that many organisations these days are opting to remove the role of middlemanagers. Some contend that modern business systems and technology ensure that communication is effective and staff are well briefed on organisational expectations. Well, perhaps we still have a way to go. Meantime, we might reflect on the artefact's message. It is this; Optios were chosen on the basis of trust.
Stephen Covey deals with trust and trustworthiness in his Principle Centred Leadership where he makes the point that we must strive to become trustworthy so that we can be trusted. This in turn leads to empowerment and alignment. It seems to me that today's middle leaders should manage the business of trust.
Trust: a valuable attribute in any organisation and one for which the Romans did not mind paying double.