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Creating the next generation of healthy organisations – workshop report


Transcript of the TrainingZone Online Workshop, 1 December 1999, facilitated by David Firth, author of The Corporate Fool.

Shall we kick off chatting? Healthy organisations? What are they and how do we create them?
I'd like to start by talking a little about why we'd bother with HOs. With my clients I promise to explore the possibilities of effectiveness and commitment and to make a difference
ie that they can make a difference in the lives of those who work there
i wouldn't descibe where i work as particularly healthy - it's a fair sized company, but the management could be a lot better
Yes, one of the things I've found with my work is it doesn't matter what I mean by Healthy or Fun, eg, if something's
wrong, you'll know
David, does your work relate to values, ethics and culture - at what level are you trying to work with companies?
So the definitions of Healthy or Fun (How to MakeWork Fun being a book I wrote) depend on the specific org
I think one of the ideas behind a healthy company is that it's balanced and aligned, so in a way my work touches on all aspects
but my own area is the softer side - values, yes and behaviour
we tend to work in a blame culture; it's not seen as fun - you're there to work and be paid for it
yes, a common one as you'll know, which is why this is about 'the next generation' of HOs. I'm very interested in what's in our generation's upbringing that creates such environments as yours Alan
There seems to be quite a stong move towards recognising the softer side of organisations e.g. emotional intelligence, awareness of cultural aspects, ethics in business, etc
absolutely, which is why I go in on the making a difference tack when the bottom line benefits might be retaining your best people
i think a lot has to to with how managers got to be managers - they think macho becuase that's what they experienced on the way up
responding to Alan - yes how they learnt managment - but also what did we all learn about work as children
Hi Gill - welcome!
how do you get managers to change their approach when they don;t seem to know any different?
Hi Gill - so I'm saying what makes work/orgs healthy/fun/learning etc is in our conditioning outside as well as inside (we crossed)
Alan - I's guess you have to tread carefully. The tack might be to start at the level of improvement - what around here could we do better
one of the consequences of this heavy management is pepole look for new jobs - that can't be in the company's interest really
which might be a place to start - how can we retain people better
the challenge is how open are they to realising that they are part of the system that causes people to leave (which is why it'll take time and care)
David, do you experience significant differences in attitudes towards organisational health between male and female managers? It seems to me in some of my experience that female managers hae a much better work/life balance (gross generalisation, but is there any 'truth' in it?)
Sometimes people need inspiration to help in realising there are other ways, better ways to be at work
Gill I agree
Alan -go forth and inspire!
(sorry Alan not trying to belittle your experiences!)
I'm interested by the number of organisations starting to offer work/life re-balancing events, weekends, etc.
Mmm me too, but I'm keen to know what lies behind it.
the problem for us in the team is that our collective influence still is not large enough to take on (some) very conservative managers - who dont like being challenged
It may be cool and beautiful and undoubtedly a step forward, but like all things, let's be aware of the downsides...
There was a great case study in Fast Company about (can't remember there name now!) in America who are doing fabulous things in life/work balance
but after a point I was wondering, if they are making it so easy to be at the office, what are the impacts on family life/social life
You come to work to get fit, you come to work to leave the kids...
I like your idea of promoting fun in the workplace - like people should enjoy most of their time at work. They need satisfaction and recognistion - very basic needs
The benefit of this has got to be at a values level - trying to connect personal and organisational values to make people want to stay with the company
yes but: You come to work to get fit, you come to work to leave the kids...
Is that balance?
or running away?
a lot of values though have to do with making money, not people enjoying themselves - but the two must be connected, even if managers dont see it
Yes - I' not negating their intentions - it's just all things have pros and cons
I like the idea of aligning personal and corporate values - I think this creates a better internal brand - that which attracts people to joing and stay
and I think also a better fit between the products and services and the internal life of the org which produces them
A healthy organisation surely needs to involve managers and staff working out what they want to achieve, what the priorities are, and what the pay-offs are
What about awareness - how many of us are really aware of the things that make us happy at work, its easier to recognise the things that make us mad?
Absolutely,. I have five pronciples of a HO. Shall I share them>
go ahead
OK :O) Here we go. First up 1. seeks answers to the questions: ?who are we?? and ?how do we connect??
so awareness is a constant Gill
Second: 2. is populated by living human beings
3. faces everything and avoids nothing
4. learns so that change is growth not pain 4. learns sothat change is growth and not pain
5. sees the customer relationship as sacred
As you can see there are two principle 4s...oops
that's interesting - nothing here abotu 'bottom line' or 'getting the job done' which are they easy things that people focus on
I wonder how much time organisations are willing to let employees have to reflect and evaluate whether these things are happening
One of the ways I keep my own work fun is by encouraging people not to stay in their comfort zones, so whilst I'd guess there ARE bottom line benefits to the above, I don't sell those
I like your 5. It's a basic checklist in starting to work with a client. Do you think this needs an outsider to initiate and facilitate, or can internal change agents achieve it?
Meaning, i try my best to weed out those who ONLY care about the cash
Tim - dunno to be honest - I'd say both approached would work best!
Perhaps part of the millenium shift (there's that word again) is that people are increasingly moving away from being motivated by money (provided they have enough) towareds being motivated by greater balance / enjoyment / staisfactionn - the intangible rewards of work
I agree - but orgs are slow to catch up?
whoops - satisfaction!
Are orgs are slow to catch up?
Hi Kay
Welcome Kay - we've been discussing the problems in shifting organisations towards greater health
hi all
Gill - I think a healthy co would create the time and an unhealthy one wouldn't - pat answer but true
The flexible working/reward package is one tangible way that organisations are catching up, I think.
i think you're right about alternative forms of motivation. Some of our team get the buzz from good appraisals, or from good customer feedback, not from the pay packet
I agree, corpfool
Gill I agree; what I was hinting at was that the entry point is ' how will this benefit the bottom line' as opposed to 'who will this benefit our lives...'
But then I'm an idealist so maybe I'm asking too much
What else would people saye are barriers to corp health?
This is coming back to reinforce the earlier point about bringing personal and organisational values into line as critical in the way forward
If I'm more in control of what I can get out of my working life, I work harder to meet those targets which impacts the bottom line. Simple equation but true for me.
a typical factor in unhealthy organisations is when they don;t know how or when to say No to work - they get overwhelmed and then under pressure
Gill, that reinforces my Principle 2 - living human beings have needs now that need to be addressed now
whereas many reward systems were designed for different needs
Hi Simon!!
Glad you could join us Simon - what discussing factors in creating healthy/unhealthy organisations
evening David
Alan - good point. Just like individuals?
David, I like your point about needing to create more flexible reward systems - do you have any good examples?
Thanks Tim, just observing
No because if it's truly flexible, it's focused on particular needs of the individual and therefore might not stimulat anyone else...
My reward system might be that someone cleans my house as a surprise rather than I have a day off
i find that employer/employee relations particularly in larger companies tend to be take it or leave it - there's a standard way of doing things and variations dont sem to exsist
Maybe, but I think the general drift is to keep up with the times, so even the slowest will have to open up soon
I was just in a meeting yesterday with a very big very old org who was saying just that
It's OK for a reward system to accommodate different needs, just by recognising difference and introducing flexible rewards for individuals is the sign of healthiness
Yes - and making work fun needs simliar felxibility
I agree - if companies don't adapt, they will loose out. In a competitive world, companies increasingly need to compete to retain staff, rather than people competing for jobs
(that's why IT is a thrilling sector to work in because they really understand that's true Tim
Let me take this somewhere different, because I reckon this is a safe envrionment to take risks
Hmmm - makes me think! - we're just taking all our techie and service staff to a hotel tomorrow for 30 hours!
I agree, I believe that people learn more if learning is fun so why not make work fun too
30 hours!!
Doing what for 30 hours?
sorry - need to go - friends coming round - been good to chat, hope it;s not all been a moan!
Alan - hope it stimulates (why not show your bosses the transcript)
Oh, sort of combination of team development, team communication, reward for hard work, etc. They get leisure facilities etc and some nic food I hope
Excellent - well if they are the ones who created the site, they deserve it!
Any last questions before we go?
It's been good David - reminded me of some points, and reinforced others
Thanks , it's been enlightening and fun
Thanks Tim - I suppose I'd end with something about expectations
I'll be posting the transcript to the Reports area of the Workshops page, probably sometime tomorrow if you want a copy.
ie start small, one client at a time..
Thanks too Gill
We've just added a CPD Report page (see top left of this page) to encourage people to make their action notes afterwards. It gets emaild to you!


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