A Vision for the Future of Work

*Reprise: I’m winding down to one new post per week between now and Baby Integrated’s arrival in March 2017. Enjoy this repost!*

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWe need a new vision for work – a vision that’s more alive and more vibrant than the mechanical environments that most of us are offered in our jobs today.

Many of us still believe in old stories about work, stories that tell us things like: “you need a boss,” “what matters is the bottom line,” or “once you get to the top, you’ll be happy.”

Even if we know those things aren’t true, we still cling to them and strive to fit into stories that don’t serve us. We’re hungry for something else, but we aren’t quite sure what that is.

Our stories are outdated, and that’s causing dissonance for people who want more depth and meaning in their careers.

David Korten, the author of a book called The Great Turning, wrote, “When the stories a society shares are out of tune with its circumstances, they can become self-limiting, even a threat to survival. That is our current situation.”

In case you haven’t heard of the concept of The Great Turning, I’ll share my understanding of it: it’s essentially the idea that humans are at a pivotal crossroads in terms of our consciousness and the actions we take based on what we believe is true in the world. Many people are living and working as though things are fine, the same as always – “There are plenty of natural resources,” “If I just work hard enough I can get ahead,” “Our world is not falling apart,” etc.

But for those of us who are awake to the destruction happening around us – the devastation of our natural environments, the curse of affluenza and consumerism – we have a choice to make. We can either choose to be crippled by fear and continue living like everything’s fine, or we can be a part of the shift: The Great Turning.

We can turn toward community, toward stewardship, toward a new economy based on wholeness instead of emptiness.

The Great Turning absolutely applies to our worklives and the stories we tell ourselves in our careers.

Things like the push for paid parental leave, a new awareness of self-management in the workplace, and a greater desire for work life integration are all signs that people are choosing a new vision of work, which gives me all the feels and makes me so excited.

So what is that vision? What would work look like in a society more interested in caring for ourselves, one another, and our planet than with shareholder profits?

Frederic Laloux, whose work I respect immensely, writes about three components of organizations that are pushing the envelope toward this new vision of work:

  • Self-management
  • Wholeness
  • Evolutionary purpose

These are concepts in his book, Reinventing Organizations.

Here are some ways that self-management might show up in the future of work:

Organizations that have come out of The Great Turning will be living, diverse ecosystems, not the behemoth machines that we have today. These organizations will be made up of peers who have agreed upon a certain mode of functioning and self-enforce the rules and structures that they’ve created. Teams within these organizations will be like fully functional cellular organisms, equipped with what they need to support one another and do high-quality work. Ongoing, in-depth training on group dynamics, vulnerability, and conflict resolution will ensure that these self-managing organizations can focus more on the good work they’re doing than on politics and in-fighting.

What about Laloux’s concept of wholeness? How might that become part of the future of work?

Thanks to the work of Brené Brown and many others, shame and vulnerability have become more acceptable things to talk about, but there’s still not enough room in today’s workplace for us to show up fully human. From where I sit, many of our workplaces are hyper-masculine environments in which you’re expected to have a forceful approach to problems, compete with your peers, and scramble to the top. In any living system, whether it’s our bodies, ecosystems, or the earth itself, we need balance.

Our workplaces need a balanced dose of the feminine. In organizations that move toward and value wholeness, feminine attributes such as intuition, cooperation, and care for the community will be just as important as profit, action, and meeting goals. We need both types of energy, and when in balance, they enable us to be whole ourselves and to create organizations that are spacious enough for integrated adults.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantFinally, I want to talk about Laloux’s concept of evolutionary purpose and add my own twist:

Laloux talks about evolutionary purpose in terms of organizational purpose and the idea that if an organization is a living system, its direction cannot be controlled. In the future of work, perhaps organizations start out with one set of goals, but over time and through the work of their self-managing teams, new goals arise – goals that could even change the entire focus of the company. The idea here is that we will learn to let things arise and move with them instead of sticking to old stories or outdated company mission statements.

I want to add another idea to this concept, though, and that is about interconnectedness. Part of The Great Turning is a change in Western consciousness from individualism to a deeper sense that we are part of something larger. So many people are sick in this culture because they believe that they are separate. They believe that they are alone in this world, disconnected from others, from the earth, from life itself. If you believe that you are separate from everything, it’s much easier to cause harm – to yourself, to others, and to the earth around you.

But we aren’t separate, are we?

I love this quote from the poet Rabindranath Tagore: “The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world.”

In the future of work, I imagine people coming together to create organizations that monitor, act, and celebrate stewardship of their people and their impact on the natural environment. Profits are most definitely a part of that, but in this evolved future, profits are put in their rightful place: alongside – and no more important than – people and the earth.

When we realize that we are connected to everything around us, we can 1) wake up to the pain of what’s going on in ourselves and to the earth, and 2) choose to be a part of The Great Turning.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIt is possible to have a society full of organizations that contribute to the well-being of the world instead of deplete it.

The future of work can be one that is joyful and colorful and supportive of each of us and the gifts we bring to it. We all have a unique part to play in this pivotal time, and if our bodies and hearts are diminished after each 40-hour workweek, it’s difficult to see what that part is and how to play it.

No matter where you are in the world or what you do for work, I encourage you to believe in this vision if it resonates with you. Shed that old story that tells you that work is about taking and keeping up and defeating others.

Choose to believe in a story that invites you to be bigger and dive deeper.

We need this vision to become real, and I believe that process is already underway. If caring, brave individuals like you can come together and support one another as they make real change in their own worklives and in the lives of others, then this vision will become real much more quickly.

One such community of these kinds of people is the Facebook group I facilitate called A Wild New Work. Click to join us and choose a different path.

One Act That Will Transform Your Next Meeting

Today, instead of a traditional blog post, I’m sharing an audio recording about how to make meetings better, for ourselves and for those we’re sharing the space with.

One of my commitments to the blog this year is to play around with a few new mediums like audio and video. This helps keep my writing fresh and it also allows readers like you to engage with content in new ways!

It’s a quick 5-minutes that I’m hoping will feel really supportive and teach you a practice that you haven’t tried before.

Check it out below!

Why Recruiting at Your Organization Might Be Doomed

LinkedIn just released their annual report, Small and Mid-Sized Business Recruiting Trends 2017. This report is a survey of about 2,600 small to mid-sized companies that includes data about what they’re planning to do in recruiting for the next year. I’ll give you some of the highlights of the report:

  • 57% of small and mid-sized (SMB) businesses plan to increase hiring next year
  • Most SMBs are focused on leveraging automation (those applicant tracking systems where you upload your resume) to speed things up and “decrease human bias”
  • SMBs report they’re most focused on “quality of hire,” which is measured by how long the new hire stays with the company, satisfaction of the hiring manager, and the time to fill (which they report should be <2 months, ideally)
  • 50% of SMBs will not increase their budgets
  • Their top concern: competition with other firms

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantSo, if I had to sum this all up in one sentence, it’s this:

Businesses want to hire more people that are a good fit faster than they have before, but with even less human interaction. (Oh, and they’re all planning on doing the same thing and are, rightfully, worried about competition).

The authors of the report wrote all of this without irony, but I felt confounded and sad while reading it.

When are organizations going to learn that the answer to hiring the right people doesn’t lie in the old “pump and dump” recruiting model? 

I guess I can see why there’s a wish to leverage automation – human bias is real and pervasive, and most candidates agree the process should be faster – but increased computer interaction is not the answer.

The need to hire for fit in an organization conflicts with our obsession with speed and efficiency.

Until companies think outside the old model of hiring, we will continue to hear about how there’s “no talent,” and amazing, gifted candidates will keep getting screened out because their resumes don’t have all the right words in them.

The companies that will win “the war for talent” are the ones that make the effort to focus on human connection.

They will create people-centered recruiting practices that might take four months instead of two but will result in wildly better results.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThese are the organizations willing to look beyond the resume, invest in training their managers to limit hiring bias instead of outsourcing the problem to software, and who treat their current employees – and candidates – like people.

The “war for talent” is a farce created by organizations that don’t want to change how they treat people.

Like Seth Godin wrote, “it’s a lie because many organizations only pretend that they’re looking for talent.”

Many organizations are just looking for someone who checks off the right boxes, follows instructions, and will keep their head down. For those people, maybe the transactional nature of recruiting today is the right fit.

But if you’re looking for the imaginative people who will pour their heart into the work and up-level your organization, things have to change.

You already have everything you need to transform this empty, deathbed hiring game: you have real humans on your recruiting team who are capable of empathy, intuition, and relating to potential hires.

There are real people working at the company who can tell it like it is and, if they’re treated well, will recruit their friends for you. There’s money to pay the company’s bills that can cover the cost of a lunch or coffee date with someone you hope will join the team one day.

You’ve got everything you need…you just have to choose to be different.

Choose to be different from all the other firms and recruiters who will continue to automate and scramble for the few qualified candidates who are still willing to play their tired old game.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI work with individuals every day who are bright, creative, and ready to put the work in, but who get stalled by applicant tracking systems or recruiters who are programmed to look only for the people who have done the same work before.

The game is rigged, I tell them, and it is. If you’re a recruiter or have anything to do with hiring in your organization, my guess is that you’re frustrated with the game, too.

No one is pleased, but we keep playing it, even though it feels fake and doomed.

No matter whether you’re someone who wants to be hired or someone looking to hire, I want to leave you with a nugget of advice:

Do whatever you can to make the process feel more authentic to you.

If you’re recruiting for a company that totally sucks and that you can’t honestly recommend to the candidates you’re talking to, dial down the enthusiasm a little and find ways to have integrity while you’re doing your job. Or leave – that company doesn’t deserve you, anyway.

If you’re applying for jobs and are discouraged by the black hole job search approach, find a new one. Talk to real people via informational interviews. Quit sending your resume out cold. Hire an innovative career coach. Do what you need to in order to do this with integrity.

If enough of us stop playing the game, the game will have to change and become human again.

Are Healthy Organizations the Unicorns of Modern Work?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantA couple of people have asked me lately if it’s possible to find work in an organization that values people. Like, really values people – a place that encourages them to show up whole, makes space for bottom-up change, and does work based on connectedness, not fear.

Someone asked specifically if I thought organizations like that were unicorns – legendary, fleeting creatures that may or may not have ever existed.

My immediate answer was “no,” because there are organizations like that in today’s workforce – organizations like Sounds True, Buurtzorg, and Morning Star. These are real-life places where employees are managing themselves, their work, and they’re kicking ass in their industries.

But I want to take this analogy a little further and flesh out my response. Warning: you might think I’m crazy once I start talking about unicorn people at work, but try to just roll with the metaphor.

Many people believe that unicorn legends are based in reality – that in China and the Middle East, horned animals like rhinoceros and certain types of oxen were woven into various stories that eventually grew more and more magical.

Unicorns appear in art and stories across cultures, and some of their basic traits are that their horns could be used to heal sickness, aid in protection, and that they were wild, fleeting creatures that could only be caught by a virgin girl who sat quietly waiting in the woods.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantInterestingly, one scholar pointed out that unicorns are the only mythological creature that doesn’t seem to have originated from human fears. They’ve been stripped of some of their darker traits as the years have gone on, but generally, it was believed that unicorns could only help and heal, and they could only be drawn in by someone “pure of heart” (let’s assume that has nothing to do with whether someone is a virgin).

So if we’re looking for unicorn-like organizations, then we’re looking for places that are healing, helpful, a little hard to pin down, and drawn to people with a good heart.

Honestly, I think there are still only a few unicorn organizations in our modern world of work. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, they’re just harder to find.

There may only be a few unicorn organizations, but I know that there are a lot of unicorn people within organizations. Sweet, sensitive people with integrity who are trying to keep their unicorn-ness even though it’s hard.

We can all be unicorns.

We are all wild, capable of healing, and drawn to others whose hearts are pure. We are those things already, we just get stuck in old belief systems and environments that can suffocate us.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThere’s a whole community of unicorns out there, and as long as you choose to believe they exist, you can surround yourself with their hopefulness and innovation. You can find the unicorns of the working world in places like Enlivening Edge, the Reinventing Organizations Wiki page, and in our Facebook group.

To amp up your unicorn powers, all you have to do are the things that feel healing and that make you want to help others. To go even further, you can surround yourself with people who believe that unicorns exist, individually and as organizations.

For those of you who feel cynical and like these organizations just aren’t real, or that change isn’t possible, I’d leave you with this question:

Isn’t life just a little brighter and more fun when you believe unicorns are real?

Combating Silence in Organizations

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI was really afraid to publish a post called 50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work, and I was fearful in large part because it was so critical of common organizational practices.

For a long time, I was worried about coming across as too negative, too anti-organization, and so I wrote more mild posts in an effort to support readers while also keeping a door open to do work within organizations. I thought that if I played nice enough, I could continue writing while also working to make change inside of companies, even though when I’d tried, it felt totally draining.

We need innovative, forward-thinking people inside of organizations to drive change. Absolutely. For sure. And we also need people on the fringes noticing and giving voice to the things that are harmful and need to stop, which is where I feel more aligned with who I really am.

We need both kinds of people if we’re going to create organizations that allow people to show up as wholly themselves.

There is an unhealthy amount of silence around our organizations and their practices today. I felt afraid to post what I did because it still feels taboo to me to be critical of companies or non-profit groups. And yet, they wield a lot of power, and because of that, need to be held to a higher level of accountability.

Why are so many of us uncomfortable talking about the lack of transparency and humanity in these places?

I think it’s because for many of us, doing so has been labeled “unprofessional,” and we’re afraid of what could happen if we’re critical of the very people who sign our paychecks.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantMany of our ancestors have either been part of a labor movement or were working adults while their peers were trying to form unions. I know how controversial unions can be, and some of them are just as crooked as the organizations they’re “protecting” employees from, but their foundational purpose is pure: to publicly hold organizations accountable for how they treat their employees.

We need people to serve that function. We need to unveil harmful practices like hiding pay practices from employees, expecting salaried employees to work way more than 40 hours/week, and putting employees through patronizing disciplinary processes.

We need less silence and more accountability. Without bringing things out into the open, they stay secret and gnarly and more harmful than if we just looked at them and at least acknowledged that they were happening.

It breaks my heart when I hear about people who feel like they have no one they can talk to about an abusive boss, a total sense of overwork, or a suspicion that they’re being paid less than their peers for the same work. These are real, serious issues, and while I know the people in power often feel just as isolated and afraid as those “below” them, they’re kind of like politicians: they should be beholden to the people in their community.

Some organizational leaders will, for a long time to come, cling to the notion that they’re actually only beholden to “the business,” as if that’s a real thing.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThe social contract between workers and organizations is changing though, and the organizations that succeed will be the ones who stop trying to hide harmful practices and who humbly partner with their people to make things better.

Whether you work in an organization or without, I encourage you not to be silenced anymore. If you see something destructive, shed light on it. If you see something beautiful that needs more room to grow, do whatever you can to give it that.

You get to decide what kind of a place you want to work in, and you can effect real change by doing your part to hold the organization and its leaders accountable for their decisions and their treatment of you, the community, and the earth itself.

I know it’s not always comfortable, but it is a requirement for those of us calling for a new, healthier, more authentic world of work.


If you’d like to join a community that’s discussing some of these issues, I invite you to check out our Facebook group, A Wild New Work.

50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantI hear from a lot of people who feel tired, stifled, belittled, overwhelmed, and patronized at work. They feel disrespected in meetings, put down by their “teammates,” or are just exhausted to their core.

So many of us put up with jobs and organizations that diminish who we fundamentally are.  We feel bad, heavy, or mixed up at work but tell ourselves that it’s just because we’re not tough enough to “hang.” We become convinced that since we feel badly, something must be wrong with us.

If you feel like shit at work and are telling yourself to toughen up, then I have something to say:

It’s not you. It’s them.

You are trying to function in a system that is broken. You’re trying to fit into an organization or mode of working that is not very friendly to normal human beings, and when we try to fit into systems that don’t work for us, we get sick. Or tired. Or angry. Or all of the above.

If you’re working inside of a company, you’ve likely tuned out a lot of the things that are breaking you down, because to see them all the time would make you go crazy. It often takes an outsider to notice them and say, “Actually, I think that’s wrong. And dumb.”

In this post, I’m highlighting 50 of the most insidious ways that organizations belittle the people they claim to be committed to (that’s you).

I’m doing this because I want you to see what you’re up against. I want to help people see so that they stop berating themselves for not being “tough enough” to succeed in these environments. Then, maybe, if we stop trying to fit into them, we’ll have the energy to change our organizations for the better.

Some of the practices on the list might seem so benign that they surprise you, but little by little, drip by drip, these practices build to create cultures that are stagnant, devoid of trust, and overrun by egos. You might not experience all of these at your job, but I bet many of them will ring true.

I hope this list reminds you that you a) are not alone and b) are enough – tough enough, smart enough, capable enough – to do amazing work in the world.

For those put off by the title or message of this entry: I’m glad this doesn’t resonate with you – it may mean you work in an organization that truly values who you are! 

:: 50 Reasons You Feel Like Shit at Work ::

  1. The supply closets in the office are locked.
  2. You’re told – explicitly or implicitly – to keep “personal stuff” out of the office.
  3. Your organization doesn’t allow celebrations or recognize holidays of any kind because they’re too afraid of being sued.
  4. If you want to apply for an internal posting, you’re expected to have a Master’s degree, 5 years of experience, and a willingness to be paid at the bottom of market value.
  5. Meetings don’t start until people in positions of “leadership” are there, even though everyone else is expected to get there on time – and does.
  6. You’re not allowed to decorate and personalize the workspace you inhabit for 8+ hours/day.
  7. Dress codes.
  8. Your company assigns work as a one-way street without any input from the people being asked to do the work.
  9. Most meetings are secretive and closed-door.
  10. The leadership in your organization pretends that everything is fine when it’s not. Employees can handle bad news, y’all.
  11. Your time off is limited, capped, monitored, and regulated. If someone’s really motivated to work with you, they’ll show up and get the job done.
  12. Your manager gets salty when you have to leave early to pick up your kid or go to the dentist.
  13. They’re too cheap to stock the coffee station with high quality supplies. Folgers it is.
  14. You know that requests for ergonomic office furniture are always declined, so why bother asking?
  15. You’re asked to sign 100 company policies that treat you like a liability more than a trusted partner.
  16. A promotion is dangled in front of you but no one is being real about the fact that it’s not going to happen for another year or so.
  17. The front desk is decorated super nicely since it’s customer-facing, but the employee break room is sad and nasty.
  18. You’re expected to go to company parties that celebrate an organization you aren’t excited about.
  19. That new college grad is paid $80,000/year to analyze Excel spreadsheets but management says they can’t justify a $0.50/hour raise for the blue collar staff.
  20. You’re given 3 days of unpaid bereavement leave after a loved one dies. Oh, and you need to prove that someone actually died.
  21. The company’s relationships to shareholders are prioritized over their relationships with employees.
  22. Your supervisor lets you think that your contract will turn into a permanent gig even though they know it probably won’t.
  23. Your one on one check-ins are regularly cancelled with little to no consequence.
  24. Performance reviews get pushed back again and again until they’re 6 months or a year late. Or don’t happen at all.
  25. Unhealthy competition between teams is fostered just to get the numbers up.
  26. Pretty much the entire “disciplinary” process. Give me a break.
  27. Your manager talks about you and your team as if he’s playing in a fantasy football league that reduces you to a number and position.
  28. Your organization talks about people solely in terms of their performance (e.g., “low performers” v. “high performers”).
  29. End-of-year company bonuses get paid out to the C-suite but to no one else.
  30. Your organization fails to offer high-quality training and then gets annoyed that you’re not doing a better job.
  31. You’re expected to work in the same way, at the same times, and for the same reasons as everyone else.
  32. You’re not given the freedom to just do whatever’s necessary to take care of your customers.
  33. Your internet access is restricted at work.
  34. Everyone around you tolerates gossip and politicking.
  35. The physical space is neglected so much that you don’t have access to natural light, plants, or other things that make you feel comfortable and human.
  36. They offer you doughnuts once a week but then make clear that you actually don’t have a say in how you do your job.
  37. The payroll or HR department is slow to fix issues with your paycheck but somehow very quick to correct any over-payments they’ve made.
  38. You get in trouble for taking an issue to someone other than your direct supervisor.
  39. The workspaces for new team members aren’t set up ahead of time.
  40. The HR professional calls the lawyer more often than she talks to actual employees.
  41. Gratitude goes unspoken because “that’s just your job.”
  42. Someone’s value is directly related to how much time they put in at the office, even if it’s spent doing close to nothing.
  43. Bullying is tolerated.
  44. Expense reports.
  45. The leaders around you are allowed to “forget” where credit is due and take it for themselves.
  46. You’re rushed to make decisions, but then they take their sweet time to get back to you about that promotion you interviewed for because, well, “you wouldn’t understand.”
  47. You’re not allowed to work from home.
  48. The company increases their recruiting staff but does nothing about the fact that organizational turnover is 100+% for the year.
  49. What you say about work on social media is monitored and could get you in trouble.
  50. The people leading your organization believe that there’s no consequence to treating employees like shit.

We can do better.

We can create worklives and organizations that are vibrant and healthy, and that requires us to start by looking at the dark underbelly of many of our workplace cultures.

If you want things to be better or you found yourself nodding along to some of the things on this list, I invite you to find someone to debrief with, whether it’s a colleague, your partner, a friend, or the lovely folks in our new Facebook group,  A Wild New Work.

Bureaucracy and Beaver Dams

There are so many organizations that are operating as glorified bureaucracies. Layers upon layers of control, measurement, and analysis clog the processes that they’re supposed to support, and some of the highest paid people in those organizations aren’t those actually doing the work – they’re the ones analyzing the work.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultant
Courtesy of Fast Company magazine.

With all of the levers and rules piling up in these organizations, it’s no wonder people are running around feeling completely overwhelmed and foggy.

Bureaucracy corrupts.

It turns us into people who create more and more problems for ourselves so that we can stay busy and demonstrate how valuable we are. I want to share a quote from Ricardo Semler, who has an awesome TED Talk called “How to run a company with (almost) no rules.”

Semler says, “Bureaucracies are built by and for people who busy themselves proving they are necessary, especially when they suspect they aren’t.”

Even if you don’t identify as someone who creates busy-ness in order to prove that you’re necessary, I’m sure you’ve met someone in this state. These are the people who talk about how busy and overwhelmed they are all the time, and I’ve been one of these people.

In my former worklife, I totally looked for more and more work in order to show how valuable I was. I made things overly complicated and did more for the sake of doing more, even though it rarely added value to the organization.

To demonstrate how ludicrous this is, I want to take a look at the natural world for a minute. Human beings are extremely complex thinkers, and we have these big brains that enable us to predict outcomes and analyze results, which has helped us to survive as long as we have. I would argue, however, that we have swung way too far in the direction of complexity.

While data is important and valuable, it is never more important than the quality of the work that’s being done.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantImagine a family of beavers building a new dam and lodge along a river. Do you think any of those beavers, once they’ve finished building their new home, is like “You know, I think we need to do a survey of other local beavers and build a report that demonstrates how fast beavers are building in this region. Maybe then we could compare it to reports from other regions and see how we compare!”

Do you think that when bears gather food before they hibernate for winter, they look at what they’ve got and then go gather more just for the sake of seeing an increase in food stock year over year?

No!

In the animal world, simplicity reigns.

When the work is done, the work is done. Resources aren’t wasted on reports or tasks that don’t actually contribute to the well-being of the animal.

Nature purifies, and it holds a valuable lesson for people stuck in a state of overwhelm and bureaucracy.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThe next time you feel an urge to complain about how busy you are, I encourage you to pause and simply, lovingly, ask yourself: “Is what I feel busy with truly contributing any value?”

Are you busy with things that you believe contribute to the organization’s higher purpose, or are you busy with things you’re doing to try and prove your worth? What would happen if you just stopped doing those things? We often overestimate how much other people depend on the mundane tasks that we dread doing.

Now, to be fair, a lot of people are handed work and told it’s necessary because it affects someone else down the bureaucracy chain. You may not feel like you have a lot of ownership over the work you’re supposed to do, but that’s not true.

You have more ownership than you know, and the seemingly infinite reports, measurements, and analysis will never stop coming until regular people in regular jobs start exposing them for the clutter that they are.

So what can you simplify today?

Can you stop once the dam and the lodge are built? Can you gather enough for the winter and then rest to enjoy the bounty? I hope you’ll give yourself permission to try.

 

Welcoming and Working with Change

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantWhen I worked in a fast-paced start-up, change was the norm. Everyone knew it, and I think most of us expected it, but when it came, many of us acted shocked and incredibly annoyed (unless the change was our idea, of course).

Even if I could recognize the benefits of a change, I was usually bothered and joined in on the watercooler grumblings about it. The assumptions behind those grumblings were generally “we should just keep things the way they are,” and “I don’t know what to expect and am afraid of what this change will bring.”

My resistance to change wasn’t a professional issue, it was personal. At this time in my life, I felt completely ungrounded – like I was being thrown around without any kind of anchor. I didn’t have a strong sense of who I was, what worked for me, or what I wanted out of my career, so changes in my environment felt like an assault on any semblance of stability that I had.

Sometimes organizational change fails because the plan and execution are poorly done.

Most of the time, however, it fails because so many of the people who make up the organization lack the groundedness needed in order to integrate change in a healthy way.

We all know that change isn’t going anywhere, a point illustrated in this quote from shamanic practitioner Lena Stevens:

“We are not going back. Evolution only goes in one direction. The increase in energy and complexity is here to stay. So you can adapt or you can suffer. Your choice.”

Instead of being someone who resists, sabotages, or suffers through change, you can be someone who is grounded and healthy enough to work with and actually benefit from it.

A long, but related, side note:

Not all change is good. I hear about a lot of organizational changes that are made simply because people think they have to stay busy or create more complexity. In this post, I’m talking about changes that get your organization closer to its purpose, not changes that are being made simply for the sake of looking busy.

It’s also unfortunate that so much change is mandated from the top of organizations – from people and analysts that are separated from the day to day work itself. Sustainable, healthy change is purposeful and generated from the people who are actually affected by it.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how to welcome and work with change.

I see this happening in three steps:

  1. Get grounded
  2. Intend hard
  3. Let go of outcomes

nature-forest-leaves-groundGetting grounded:

In order to flow with change in a healthy way, we have to get centered on a personal level. As far as I can tell, this means creating a daily practice of getting still, taking regular stock of what’s working or not working, and taking full responsibility for our reaction to change.

Intending hard:

Expecting and welcoming change doesn’t mean that we stop working on the tasks at hand. It does, however, force us to get clearer about the purpose of our work. I’ll give you an example:

One of the biggest projects I’ve worked on was helping an organization switch to a new phone system for its customers, field staff, and internal staff. This was a tough project for many reasons (namely that it was a top-down approach), but it got even tougher because I didn’t push the project team to get clear about why they wanted to make these changes. We all brought our own assumptions about why this major change should be made, but we should have worked through those together and set a stronger, intentional foundation for the project.

Without clear intentions guiding the change, we had a hard time selling it to the organization, our own processes got muddied, and we clung to a prescribed outcome instead of focusing on whatever it took to achieve what we wanted in the end. If I had to do that project over again, my guess is that the outcome would look wildly different.

If you want to be someone who can flow with organizational change, you need to do the work to a) get grounded, and b) get clear about what you intend to create through your work.

Letting go of outcomes:

Let’s say you intend to create a supportive environment for your team members. You’re very clear about that guiding intention, and it informs the work that you do. In order to realize this goal, you start working on a new initiative to build out quiet spaces for staff members to use for yoga, meditation, or to just get a break from the busyness.

As you’re working on this plan and moving it forward, you find out that Rick over in Research & Development is planning to use the same space for more laboratory storage. Old you might have gotten into quite a tizzy about this – talking to your office-mate about how Rick from R&D is such a spoiled brat who gets everything he wants – but grounded, intentional you is more skillful.

Staying centered and committed to your intention of creating a supportive environment for your team members, you can recognize that there are thousands of ways to achieve your intention. You’re aware that building out quiet space is one of those ways, but it’s not your only option, and you’re able to approach Rick and have a conversation that is collaborative and solutions-focused instead of one that’s desperate and accusatory.

Being a critic of change is easy – anyone can do that. Our organizations are full of naysayers and people who are clinging to “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

The question is, can you be different? Can you be grounded, intentional, and creative amidst the change and show the rest of us how to work with it more gracefully?

I have no doubt that you can.


Shameless plug: I’m leading a class on this topic for Portland-area professionals. It’s on July 11th, and I’d love to see you there.

4 Things Motherhood Can Teach Us About Working Sustainably

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThis past weekend in the United States, we celebrated Mother’s Day – a corporatized, but nevertheless important, day in which we honor mothers everywhere.

Motherhood means different things to everyone, and I can’t begin to summarize such an ancient, primal archetype in one blog post, but I want to share some thoughts about how motherhood can help us learn how to work sustainably.

Motherhood and Boundaries

In order to meet the demands of little people who need her in order to survive, a mother has to have boundaries. She has to put her oxygen mask on first. She has to get the help she needs in order to love and serve her children like she wants to.

I remember as a little girl, my parents would go away on trips from time to time, and as they were preparing to leave us (for good, I was sure), they’d always say that they needed time away “in order to be better parents.”

“Better parents?” It sounded like a cop-out to me at the time, but now I understand. If I were a mother to five young kids like my mom was, I’m not sure I’d be able to find such a graceful way to say “I need to GTFO of this house for a little while.”

In order to thrive in the midst of what can feel like an all-consuming role, whether it’s as a mom, a manager, or an employee, we have to leave sometimes. We have to say “no.” We have to take space and ensure that our soul has what it needs in order for us to be better – to ourselves and to the people who depend on us.

Motherhood and Open-heartedness

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantBased on what I’ve heard from friends and loved ones who are mothers, you can’t really be a parent without having your heart broken open. I experienced a glimpse of this feeling when my nephew was born. Even though I’m “only” his aunt, when he was born, I felt a rush of love that I thought might split me in two.

Becoming a mother requires that we have boundaries, yes, but paradoxically, it pushes us into total open-heartedness. The lines between where we end and where our beloved begins get blurry, and we can’t help but pour our hearts into the ones who need us.

I often wonder how our organizations would change if they operated from a place of love instead of fear. I wonder how they’d change if our executive teams were trained in loving-kindness and were rewarded for being vulnerable and open-hearted.

I wonder how our world would change if we opened our hearts a little bit more – if we each shared one more kind word, offered to help one more time, or sat for one more minute in silence with someone who is hurting.

Motherhood and Creativity

If you’re into energy stuff, then you know that our second chakra is our creative center. The second chakra is located where the womb is in women but is always present, in womb-less women as well as men.

Things are created out of the void, whether it’s a seemingly empty womb, your second chakra, or the space between two thoughts. Each of us, whether we’re mothers or not, has the potential to conceive and birth newness into our lives. Sometimes we’re at the beginning stages of change, where we can barely feel it within us. Then the change will quicken – it will kick and stir within us until we can feel its presence. In time, it will grow and strengthen until it’s ready to be born, and we’ll have to choose: will we allow this change to be birthed, or will we fight the process and cling to the way things were?

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantThis cycle of conception, quickening, and birth has shown up in many of my clients’ careers – they come in with a notion that something in their worklife needs to change, together we uncover and nurture that change, and then they have to choose whether or not they’ll go through the labor pains and give birth to what’s inside of them. It’s a powerful metaphor that can show us how to gracefully and courageously undergo transformation in our worklives.

Motherhood and Power

Mothers are powerful. In fact, their connection to, protection over, and love for their children is one of the most powerful forces in existence.

If you’re a mother in the American workforce, then you’ve probably experienced the pain of becoming a new parent, attaching to your newborn, and having to go back to work before either of you is ready to be apart for 8+ hours a day.

All across the United States, mothers are using their power to demand access to paid family leave and laws that actually support healthy families. When they’re united, empowered, and courageous, mothers transform our world into one that is safe and beautiful for children everywhere. If this issue speaks to you, I encourage you to learn more and take action by visiting one of my favorite organizations, MomsRising.org.

Motherhood has a lot to teach us about how to work in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the world around us.

When we tap into the maternal wisdom that’s available to all of us – mothers or not – we can muster the strength to live boundaried, open-hearted, creative, and powerful lives.


Know someone who could use some maternal wisdom today? Pass this along!

3 Signs Your Organization is Shackled by Ego

megan leatherman career coach and hr consultantIn my most recent post, Your Lizard Brain Could be Killing Your Organization, I mentioned three signs that could indicate that an organization is driven by ego – the part of us that is fearful, controlling, and determined to survive.

In this quick SlideShare presentation, I talk more about that concept and offer some ideas for how to balance the ego with more soul, which is the part of us that can rise above fear and make meaningful change in our lives and the lives of others.

Link to the SlideShare presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/MeganLeathermanMSPHR/3-signs-your-organization-is-shackled-by-ego-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

 

Your Lizard Brain Could be Killing Your Organization

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantAs I prepare for the webinar I’m offering next week, Using Your Intuition to Work Smarter, I’ve been thinking a lot about our lizard brains.

Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield write a lot about lizard brains – what they define as the part of us that wants to be safe, go slow, pull back, or lash out. It’s resistance, fear, the instinct to survive, and it’s the sphere in which most of our organizations operate.

In order for this to make sense, I have to talk about the Ego. Most of the wise teachers I know would say that the ego and the lizard brain are two peas in a pod. Your ego partners with your lizard brain to keep you safe – it’s very good at picking up on potentially harmful situations and getting you out of them as soon as possible.

If you were caught in the middle of the ocean, your ego and your lizard brain are what would keep you swimming for dry land. If you’re giving a presentation and feel threatened by a critical colleague in the room, they’ll send “GET OUT!” signals like sweaty palms and a racing heart. Their sole interest is in keeping you alive and eliminating threats, which is really very sweet!

The problem is, they’re running rampant and, ironically, killing off many organizations as a result. Here are some ways you know that ego and lizard brains are calling the shots:

  • Decisions are made out of fear: “Don’t rock the boat…The shareholders will be upset if we don’t do it this way…We need to tolerate her or else she’ll sue us.”
  • There’s in-fighting: The loudest, most belligerent people succeed in these organizations, which means competition, under-cutting, and sabotage are rampant. Sensitive people who want to collaborate burn out quickly.
  • There’s never enough: Scarcity runs the show in this organization. There’s never enough money, resources, time, talent – everything is urgent. The top line in everyone’s job description should be “Putting out fires.”

Now, nothing is ever all bad – we do need our egos to help us stay alive and get things done in the world.

megan leatherman career coach and hr consultantBut the ego has to be balanced, and it’s balanced with Soul.

Your soul is what pushes you to make changes in your life even though they’re scary, like switching careers, going back to school, or falling in love. Your soul helps you transcend your survival instincts so that you can live out what you’re on this earth to learn and do.

When our souls inform our lives and organizations, there can be trust, openness, and a sense of abundance – like we know that our needs will be met. Some signs that an organization has a healthy balance of ego and soul are:

  • Decisions based on trust and love: People are given the benefit of the doubt. Policies are in place, but minimally, and they’re never a substitute for a human conversation. When making decisions, the leaders of the organization seek what is in the highest good of all stakeholders – employees, their communities, and even the earth itself.
  • Everyone has a place: Each member of the organization is valued for their unique set of gifts and diverse backgrounds. Community is intentionally formed through trust-building, collaboration, and mutual shows of respect.
  • There is enough: Leadership isn’t stingy about salaries, vacation time, or employee appreciation. They trust that there is enough and are generous with the money that flows through the organization.

One major way that we can tap into our souls and the wisdom they hold for us is through our intuition.

Intuitive knowing is becoming more accepted in mainstream business culture, but it’s still out there on the fringes – largely, I believe, because it’s been denigrated through our obsession with “rationality” and other more intellectual ways of knowing. The tide is shifting, though. I see other professionals waking up to their own inner sense of knowing and using it to guide their careers and their organizations.

When we bring our souls – through our intuition – into the conversations we’re having, the content we’re producing, or the art we’re creating, we integrate our lizard brains and have a chance to thrive instead of merely survive. We get grounded and make decisions that are based in trust and openness instead of an obsession to stay safe and never change.

using your intuition to work smarter webinarIf this topic resonates with you, I’d encourage you to sign up for my free webinar on April 28th called Using Your Intuition to Work Smarter. In this live 60-minute session, I’ll be talking a lot about how to actually tap into your inner sense of knowing so that you can be one of the brave few who are ready to work beyond the world of the lizard brain.

 

Our Spiritually Impoverished Workplaces

wVlfnlTbRtK8eGvbnBZI_VolkanOlmez_005When I was a senior in college, my world came crashing down. Over the course of one panic-attack filled weekend, I had what those in the Christian community call “a crisis of faith.”

For seven years after that weekend, I rejected anything that felt remotely spiritual. I couldn’t walk into a church without feeling a knot in my stomach, I felt angry anytime someone used the word “God,” and I thought Richard Dawkins was the shit.

I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I drank too much, I let people into my life who were unkind and manipulative, and I was miserable. I believed, and told others, that none of us have a purpose, we’re just on this earth to live, take whatever sad pleasures we can, and die.

After seven years of this, I ended up on a therapist’s couch asking for help “finding my identity.”

Over the past year, I’ve been reimagining and re-engaging with my spiritual life. I’ve reconnected with my Soul, the part of me that has a purpose for being on this earth. Every morning I go through a piecemeal spiritual ritual that probably doesn’t make sense to any “proper” religious person, but it works for me. I can go to mass with my family and appreciate its depth and richness without feeling like I have to make sure everyone there knows that I’m not Catholic.

labyrinthIt wasn’t until I started getting on the meditation mat every morning, usually feeling stupid and awkward, that my life began to make sense again.

It wasn’t until I started pretending – and then believing – that I had a purpose on this earth that my work began to feel sacred.

Many of us are religious or spiritual people outside of work, but years of “diversity training,” anti-discrimination lawsuits, and political correctness has taught most of us to leave.that.shit.at.home.

“You’re observing Ramadan? Ok, well, I hope you know that doesn’t mean your performance will be measured differently this month.”

“You need a day off for Yom…Yom what? Alright, but we need that report done on time, so I hope you’re willing to put in some extra hours this weekend.”

Many of us, individually and collectively, live as if our spirituality has no bearing whatsoever on our work.

Collectively, we act as if observing holy or sacred rituals can’t make us bigger, deeper, more intuitive thinkers in the office…as if coming in thirty minutes later so we have time to get still and line up with what is true for us in the mornings won’t make us more effective and compassionate co-workers.

Many of us are so scared of offending one another or getting sued that we stuff down the way we make sense of the world. We quit jobs and use excuses like “I need to be paid more” instead of saying “The Universe (or God, or Allah) is just telling me it’s time to move on.”

Many of our workplaces are stale, miserable environments because we’ve killed off any spiritual wisdom that used to be there through silly policies and corporate sterilization.

photo-1417037515877-04e1a91cb19dNow, I know that there are some people who aren’t mature enough to co-exist with people who believe differently than they do, so boundaries and “operating agreements” are still necessary. But do we all have to be so silent and closed off about the wisdom that’s within us and where we believe it comes from?

What would our workplaces be like if our leaders were spiritually attuned, aware of what their Souls needed, and integrated enough to see how their actions impacted all of us on this planet?

What would our workplaces be like if we valued the wisdom that comes from our spiritually involved co-workers? What if you could bring your entire self – Soul included – to work every day?

Based on my personal experience, I think some amazing things would happen. I continue to hear from people who know that our workplaces lack depth and humanity and are seeking a way forward that feels more human and soulful.

People are looking for ways to infuse their worklives and organizations with more richness, and the only way I see to do that is by showing up whole and authentic ourselves.

If this concept resonates with you, I’d encourage you to think of some ways you can bring more of your intuition, or Soul, or spirit into your worklife. Maybe it’s telling your co-workers about a recurring dream you have, or something you learned at a Bible study, or being open about the fact that you’re moving forward on a project because you just feel that it’s the right way to go.

If you’re in management or Human Resources, I hope you’ll consider finding diversity trainings and policies that do less sterilizing and more bridge-building. I hope you’ll appreciate that you and your employees are whole beings who will be healthier, more innovative team members when they’re able to tap into the practices and beliefs that feel nourishing to them.

Harmonious Living for the Modern ProfessionalIf all of your alarm bells are going off, you’re not alone – this topic feels scary to me, too. But I believe it’s more important than my fear, so I’m doing my best to find ways to help people bridge work and life in a way that is spiritually enriching.

One way that I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned is through an online class called Harmonious Living for the Modern Professional. You can click on the link to learn more and enroll.

As always, if you have reactions to this post or thoughts about how we can create spiritually alive workplaces, I would love to hear from you!

What a Healthy Organization Would Look Like

A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation on Work Life Integration to the Southwest Washington chapter of the Society for HR Management. Afterward, one of the participants said that we really need more of this kind of “woo-woo” wisdom in the workplace, and I couldn’t have agreed more! Her comment got me thinking: what would an organization that practices work life integration actually look like?

I talk all the time about how unhealthy our workplaces can be, but I haven’t really shared what I think a healthy organization would look and feel like.

photo-1424298397478-4bd87a6a0f0cIn this post, I want to take you on a journey through a day in the life of a healthy, vibrant organization – it’s one I made up, and we’ll call it Integrated Widgets, Inc. Let’s pretend that I’m being brought in as an HR Consultant, and my first task is to spend a day in the organization and just observe what goes on.

First stop: Reception, around 9:00am. I’m greeted by the receptionist, Micah (no lame gendered stereotypes here), who is warm and friendly and relaxed. The office space is beautiful: there are plants growing, there’s lots of natural light, and the energy is neither totally dull nor completely frenzied. It feels good to be here. I see that people are still coming in to start their day, there’s a walking group that just finished a 3-mile loop together, and I smell the coffee brewing.

Next stop: The break room. Micah offers me a selection of appealing coffees, teas, and pastries, and I notice what good taste this organization has. People are in the break room chatting, catching up, and I see that a few people have brought in snacks to share. The colleagues I meet are warm, they welcome me, and I find myself wanting each of them to be my new friend.

Work life integration for organizations.Stop #3: An office tour. Micah shows me around the office, and I notice right away that there’s a mix of working spaces: some are quiet, closed off spaces, and others are totally open without any walls or barriers between desks. I ask him about the mix, and he tells me that employees are able to pick their workspace depending on their introversion/extroversion style. The easily-over-stimulated introvert in me swoons. I see that people’s work areas are personalized as much as they want – some are bare and clean, others are full of photos and funny mementos. Some of the stuff posted is even a little racy and includes swear words, which warms my heart. Real people seem to work here.

There are also cute dogs around! Sweet, loving pups sit at the feet of their owners and force them to take regular breaks and walks throughout the day. There’s a buzz in the air – not an urgent, over-caffeinated buzz, just a mild excitement and sense of ease. I see that many of the desks are still empty at 9:30, and Micah tells me that a lot of people work from home some days of the week or come in later – as long as the work gets done, management doesn’t care when people are around. As much as I love being an entrepreneur, this workplace is definitely tugging at my heartstrings.

pexels-photo-conference roomNext stop: The only meeting taking place today, which was scheduled to discuss the expansion into a new market for Integrated Widgets, Inc. Meetings here are rare, and for good reason: management here knows that most meetings are a total waste of time. The meeting is scheduled for 42 minutes, there are only five people present, and a clear agenda has been sent out ahead of time. Jodi, the meeting facilitator and Chief of New Markets, starts right on time even though Brad, the CFO, is late (again).

Jodi starts out by asking everyone for a quick check-in: how are they feeling today, what’s getting them stuck, and what’s working? I notice that the answers are transparent, and the usual chasm between managers and employees seems to be quite small. People are open about what’s getting them stuck, and Jodi listens attentively and takes notes. She commits to following up on each of the obstacles named to see how she can help get things moving in the right direction.

All of the meeting attendees contribute value throughout the meeting, there’s hardly any wavering from the agenda, and it ends promptly after 42 minutes. It’s one of the most productive meetings I’ve ever witnessed, and people leave with smiles and clear next steps. (For some helpful tips on how to run meetings like this, check out this article).

Work life integration for organizations.Next up: Quiet working time. There’s no one waiting for the conference room after us, because everyone else seems to understand that this is quiet, solitary working time. While some of the work at Integrated Widgets, Inc. requires collaboration, most status updates are given online through the company’s project management software. I notice that people don’t have chat windows open or emails popping up – no, no, this is dedicated, deep work time, and people are encouraged to really focus and dive in.

Next: Lunch! People eat lunch in the break area, outside, but not at their desks. I see people walking after they have lunch, together or alone, and to my surprise, most people break for an entire hour. How European!

After lunch: Another chunk of focused work. People seem to respect the quiet time, and while it’s not as subdued as it was this morning, most folks still aren’t constantly responding to emails or chats. Email responses seem to be relegated to small chunks throughout the day, and Molly, the Payroll Administrator, tells me that this allows everyone to get way more done. She also notes that people are intentional about their emails, and that the company culture is such that you only send emails that are actually helpful and productive.

Next up: A mid-afternoon break. Around 3:00, a natural break seems to occur, and people get up to stretch, walk their dog, or grab a quick snack in the break area. People chat, they provide updates on their projects, it all feels very low-key and rejuvenating.

person-apple-laptop-notebookFinally: People begin to intentionally close out their days. I see them making lists of things they accomplished today and sharing them on the company portal. I see them giving “shout-outs” to one another for successes or for going above and beyond with a customer. Most of them plan ahead for tomorrow and make a list of 2-3 priorities to focus on. Spouses and kids come by to pick up their loved ones, pets start dragging their humans away from the keyboard, and folks leave with enough time to enjoy life for the evening.

While some people do stay later, I notice there’s none of the “burning the midnight oil = a hard worker” lingo that’s normally present in our workplaces. No one seems ashamed for leaving after six or seven hours of working. Employees have a realistic sense of what they can accomplish in a day, they’re given the flexibility and time to focus productively, and they’re treated like adults when they say it’s time for them to go home.

If this kind of workplace seems ideal and far-fetched, I get it. I don’t think it’s impossible, though, and I’ve seen workplaces that approximate this seemingly Pollyanna-like existence.

Healthy organizations are places where growth can happen. In order to grow, we need sunlight (clarity), water (flow), and dirt (groundedness). And yes, sometimes we need fertilizer (poop), but what use is the fertilizer without those other key elements?

If your organization is close to the healthy one I toured above, I’d love to hear from you! I’m interested in learning more about how folks are creating this growth-friendly environment on the ground, and your insights would be invaluable. If your organization is not close to becoming like Integrated Widgets, Inc., we can definitely talk about that, too! You can reach me using this Contact link.


Know someone who’d like to take a tour of a healthy organization? Pass this along!

 

 

We Don’t Need Managers, We Need Mentors

businessman-598033_1280
Can we all just treat each other like adults, please?

What would happen if you didn’t have someone at work who kept track of your hours, delegated tasks, and constantly evaluated your performance? Would you ever go into work on time? Would you be on Pinterest all day? Would you abuse your newfound freedom?

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, here are some excerpts from Merriam-Webster’s definition of Manage:to make and keep compliant…to handle or direct with a degree of skill…to exercise supervisory direction of.

We’ve had managers in our workplaces for so long that most of us assume they’re necessary. There are a lot of great managers out there – people who do their best to support people despite being constricted by outdated policies and procedures. Unfortunately, managers who lack career development or communication skills are glorified babysitters, there to approve your hours and assure those at the top that you’re staying on task. At their worst, managers are power-hungry narcissists who abuse their power and make your life miserable.

Do we really need managers anymore? Do you need a manager? Doesn’t the need for “management” imply that people are so disinterested in their work that they’ll stop doing it as soon as they get the chance? Isn’t that the problem, and is forcing them to do it through surveillance, punishments, or silly rewards really the cure?

(Important to note: If you’re convinced that employees are inherently untrustworthy or aren’t capable of meeting expectations without coercion, I think you need to take a sabbatical. If you believe that you aren’t capable of managing your own time, energy, and resources, I would encourage you to find a job that pushes you to step into yourself).

We’re transitioning into a new era of work. Smart companies know the power that’s unleashed when they stop trying to control the people who work for them. They loosen up, operate from a place of trust instead of fear, and reap the rewards of an autonomous, engaged workplace. Do they lose a bunch of people who can’t imagine working without direct supervision? Totally. But if I had people working for me, I’d prefer to keep only the folks who could manage themselves, anyway.

We don’t need managers anymore, we need mentors. By mentors, I mean experienced guides to support, counsel, and advise others. I mean people who assume that you’ll do your work in the way that maximizes your gifts. I mean people who are trained to give you powerful, motivating feedback. I mean people who give you the support you need and then get the hell out of your way.

I can think of lots of benefits for an organization that uses a mentorship orientation instead of a management one, and I know which option would work best for me. Which kind of organization would you prefer to work for? How would your work change if you were mentored instead of managed?


Know someone who’s tired of being managed or sick of managing others? Consider passing this on to them!