As the late, great Whitney Houston said: “Crack is whack”. Truthfully, it’s pretty hard to expand or improve upon Ms. Houston’s assessment of this particular issue, which is why it’s taken me a while to extract the deeper lessons that I knew lurked under the sordid surface of the Rob Ford fiasco.
Rob Ford is my mayor. That is, he was inflicted on me by a significant proportion of my fellow Torontonians in our most recent mayoral election. But I don’t hold it against them; truly we lacked compelling alternatives, and they were all probably in a drunken stupor anyway, so how can I hold them responsible? The point is, while the world held witness to the most surreal, ‘Daily Show’ worthy portion of Mr. Ford’s downward spiral, the good people of Toronto have had to endure actually having him as the mayor of the fourth largest city in North America. This reality holds some genuinely important lessons about leaders and the organizations that create and empower them, buried as they might be under a fine, white powder.
In recent years, retro approaches to food have come back into fashion in a big way. I’ve seen several food shops in my city offering canning and preserving classes, and keep coming across articles telling me that Aunt Mabel was totally on to something with her pickled onions. At TEDxToronto this year, I will admit that I was mystified when the audience’s biggest wave of anticipatory applause rose as Joel MacCharles of Well Preserved took the stage to talk fervently about his love of preserving and canning.
I blame hipsters. Their earnest nostalgia and revivalist zeal seems to have infected a broad swath of young urbanites with the desire to can food. Luckily the ‘lumberjack beard’ strain does not seem to be airborne…yet. But at TEDxToronto, as I sat in Koerner Hall, surrounded by many young urbanites dreamily imagining themselves tying on an apron and getting down to some good old fashioned pickling, all I could think was “Oh really?”.
I keep a long list of things that sound great, but in practice require a surprising amount of hard, messy work. Two things that I place on that list are canning food, and employee engagement. Read more
Let’s face it: HR has engagement-fever. If you and your organizations haven’t been infected yet, it’s only a matter of time (or maybe a matter of one more headline trumpeting yet another study correlating ‘engagement’ with organizational performance and even profit margins). Combine this incessant stream of engagement coverage with the current abysmal employee engagement numbers (such as those presented by the recent Ipsos Reid study I discussed in my last post), and you have a recipe for organizational hysteria.
But let’s put aside (for a minute), the need for a much clearer definition of what everybody means (and does not mean) by “employee engagement”, and the need for an increased understanding of the relationship between engagement and the other organizational data it has been correlated with. Put that aside, and jump on the bandwagon with me for a short ride to consider engagement, transparency, and the human brain…
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Canadian Management Center National Thought Leader Series presentation, delivered in conjunction with Ipsos Reid, on some of the results of a recent study conducted by Ipsos into Canadian employee engagement. The data contained some real surprises for me, including how my fellow Gen Xers are apparently falling off our collective “organizational engagement radar”, and the rather frightening numbers associated with Canadians’ views about the trustworthiness and credibility of their senior leaders.