June 30, 2009

Community Evolution

Posted in Business, Life, Technology tagged , , , , , , , at 11:12 pm by lindaslongview

I said in an earlier post (One Book, Two Months), I continue to be interested in the evolution of communities and organizations – how to increase collaboration and to reduce feelings of isolation.  Today’s post was sparked by connections among:

  • A whispered negative comment at a community meeting, “Did you hear that the Smith’s are leaving?”
  • An uplifting positive email from a former colleague mentioning that a mutual colleague, who had worked for me, was a panelist at a recent career seminar and had said very complimentary things about how I explained the details of his position during recruitment, how I had piqued his interest enough to accept the job, and how I had been a good coach/mentor later after he was hired.
  • And, continued thinking on my last post, Applied to Soccer.

What these three things have in common are the ebb and flow that exists in every community and organization, which occurs like the ebb and flow of the flock of birds in this estuary photo.  EstuaryEbbandFlowMy three examples differ in tone and timing:  negative, positive, arriving (hiring), participating, and departing.   Organizations and communities evolve (grow and adapt to external change) as people depart and others arrive, so it is important to prevent stagnation, but there is no need to be negative.

Arrivals are recruited to perform specific functions (in organizations) and are assessed to ensure fit to the organization or community through shared goals, values, and vision.  With each arrival the community/organization is infused with the new, the fresh, and dreams.   Arrivals generate hope for the future.

Departures, on the other hand, are subdued, because there is loss.  The losses come in many flavors:  a valued contributor choosing to go elsewhere, a respected contributor departing under organizational contraction, and/or the loss of an aspiration because goodness-of-fit was not achieved (or outgrown).

Managing arrivals is easy because they are naturally positive – hope is good.  Conversely, managing departure can be hard.  The key to success in managing departure is to ensure shared goals during participation and dignity in departure.

Dignity is infused when leadership conversations are respectful and there is a history of communication around expectations and goals (positives are reinforced and negatives are identified and corrected early). Although it takes more effort to stay positive and to over-communicate, that extra effort nurtures joy, enthusiasm, and loyalty.  Thus, the long view advice is to lead with dignity upon arrival, during participation, and upon departure.

Are you infusing your community/organization with dignity?

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2 Comments »

  1. Gayle said,

    Not only dignity, but respect. You have to respect the person or their talents enough to take the time to overcommunicate either by reinforcing the positive or identifying the negative. I think respect is crucial because the negative and its corrective action is the hard conversation to have. But the respect for the individual and the desire to improve/infuse the community should be the drivers for that conversation.

    • lindaslongview said,

      Thank you for the emphasis. I entirely agree that respect is necessary to create dignity.


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