Just sat in on one of the discussions at the Stop Doing Dumb Things unconference.

Here are some of the notes from the session.
Employees need a safe place to voice things. Currently employees can feel that if they voice things that are negative they could be marking themselves out for potentially losing their job. The problem of this is that managers then hear only what they want to hear and everyone carries on as if everything is working fine – a big problem if it is not.

This is also a potentially damaging issue if employees cannot feed back customers’ problems.

Earlier in the day it was suggested that the opposite of honesty was silence. In this session someone suggested that the opposite of honesty was stories that contained just enough truth that were spun up to senior managers.

The problem of managers fearing a loss of status was mentioned.

We then went on to talk about ‘good’ companies and the Jim Collins’ notion that good is the enemy of great. That is that organisations get used to do doing a good job but never reach great because potential is not fully tapped. There has to be a balance between those that just want to do a good job day in day out and those who want to make a change.

How do you move from a culture of fear to trust? Answer: motivate the leaders by showing costs of lack of engagement and a compelling vision for leaders of a fully engaged workforce.

Then someone asked: What would you do if you were totally unafraid?

Humans are not naturally inhibited although the point was made that the brain provides us with defence mechanisms to protect ourselves.

We then went on to talk about some good examples of engagement.

Someone from Red Gate, a software company, talked about the Book of Redgate – and its words on company culture eg ‘Don’t be an ar**hole’.

Also, the company toasts – with champagne – people who try things out (that succeed or fail). They also get employees to present ideas in the role of fictional characters (eg Darth Vader) to help people contribute ideas.

Semco, First Direct and Nespresso were all name checked for being good at engagement.

There was agreement that trusting employees more will see them trust you more. Taking personal responsibility is key to this.

And share/celebrate successes.

Wrapped up with this great quote:

It doesn’t cost anything to be human to people.