This is Part Nine of ten blogs in which I’m using films to illustrate the feelings organisations should seek to evoke in employees if they want to create a high performance organisational culture.
Number 9 – Peace of Mind
Just what does ‘peace of mind’ mean to you? For me it’s a feeling of calm and an absence of worry. It’s a feeling that a person might have as a result of something they’ve done e.g. "I’ve prepared really well for my exams so I don’t feel at all worried", or it might be a feeling someone has as a result of their relationship with someone else e.g. "I trust you completely so I have no worries about it". And it’s a feeling that organisations should seek to foster in the relationship with employees.
One of the benefits of someone having peace of mind about their employer relationship is that it assumes a high degree of trust. I can’t think of any circumstances in which an employee would say that they feel peace of mind at work and yet they don’t trust their employer. The two things go hand-in-hand. Trust is critically important in the relationship, if an employee doesn’t trust their employer one of the foundations of a healthy relationship is missing. Think about any of your relationships – would you be able to say that you have a great relationship with any individual or organisation and yet you don’t trust them? No, thought not.
So how do companies generate trust and create peace of mind? I suggest it’s about being open and honest, communicating things that it’s right and proper for employees to be aware of, being transparent and not hiding things and above all ………being fair. Too many organisations operate with hidden agendas, keeping things from staff and making decisions with no explanation and in a way that they find difficult to understand. Sometimes it’s done with the best of intentions, I was talking to an HR Manager just last week about pending redundancies in his organisation. It became clear in the conversation that because they didn’t want to worry people they haven’t communicated anything – all the work is being done in the background so that they can communicate with those affected on a specific date. Under further questionning he said that he thought it would probably come as a big shock to people because there hasn’t really been any communication suggesting that the business is struggling and needs to cut costs. I understand the logic and I’m sure it comes from a place of positive intent, but the impact will be damaging and it will take a long time to repair. Everyone in the business, irrespective of whether they are directly affected, will wonder for a long time whether there are things they’re not being told. Trust will break down and it could be even worse if the process followed to select people for redundancy isn’t seen to be transparent and fair. Doing it in a way which maintains trust, creates a feeling the the organisation is doing all it can to do things in the right way, and as a result enables employees to feel peace of mind isn’t difficult, but it does mean thinking designing how you want employees to feel into the process at the outset. And by the way, doing it this way doesn’t mean it costs more or takes longer to undertake people change. It’s not a case of having to do extra things, it’s just doing things differently. And the results are always better as a result.
So …..I suggest designing activity which has a people impact specifically so that it creates trust and peace of mind.
The film I’ve chosen to illustrate peace of mind today is one of my personal favourites – ‘Lost in Translation’. It’s about the accidental realtionship that develops between bob (played by Bill Murray) and Charlotte )Scarlett Johansson) whilst they are both in Tokyo. Bob, an internationally recognised actor whose career is declining, is on location filiming a series of adverts for a brand of whisky. Charlotte who is much younger and more recently married is accompanying her photgrapher husband on a business trip and is left in Tokyo whilst he is in other parts of Japan. Bob and Charlotte initially meet casually, in the lift and the bar of the hotel but gradually they start to seek out one another and a relationship develops. They eventually spend nearly every waking hour together and a deep bond develops, albeit one that they both know will end when it is time for each of them to leave.
The thing I like best about it is that their relationship remains platonic, despite strong sexual undercurrents. They spend time in each others bedroom, they lie on the bed together talking but both seem to intuitively know that taking it further would be something that would damage the relationship and they’d later regret. And so their relationship is one of deep friendship, in which each trusts the other implicitly and has peace of mind because they both know they are under no pressure to have sex. And their relationship is all the more beautiful and sublime as a result. As the film closes they say goodbye publicly and somewhat formally in the hotel lobby before Bob gets in a taxi to go to the airport. The final scene, in which Bob sees Charlotte in a crowd of shopppers and then stops the taxi to go to her and say goodbye again, is simply a masterpiece!
Do they love each other – yes I think they probably do. Do they realise that once they leave Tokyo the relationship could never work – I’m sure they do. Will they treasure the relationship for the rest of their lives – yes, I’m sure they will. And will they feel any sense of regret about it – not in the slightest because they didn’t betray their partner. And as a result, in addition to the peace of mind which exists between them, each can feel peace of mind about their role in the relationship.
You can see the film trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU0oZsqeG_s
I’ll post the tenth (and final) part of this series tomorrow.
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