Day 58 - Why do they only listen to the consultant?

It's an oft heard refrain from people who care most about an organization. Usually frustrated to no end by their management burying their heads, and ignoring their own people, in favour of advice coming from without.

At times, and I'm not surprised, managers can be heard casting aspersion at suggestions that come from non-managers, for a variety of reasons, all of which highlight a culture left to develop in the shadows.

I refer to the cultures of

the loudest voice in the room is the smartest
making a mistake invites ridicule and terror
put it in an email, also known as, cover your ass
politics and bureaucracy even over human relationships

I'm not selling you anything, but if you find yourself in this situation, I can probably write you a guide on the steps to take to counteract the consultant conundrum. I'll share the first step, and it'll be your onus to come back in a few months time to ask me for the second step.

Ready? Step one, for one full month, get away from your desk like it's infested - you can catch up on your work in the evening - and spend your days getting to know your colleagues, even better if you're remote, schedule a ton of video calls, or use

Oh, and I don't mean facebook knowledge, I mean make it your mission to understand what makes them tick, how many siblings they have, what their names are, who is the favourite and how much it irritates them. Where do their parents live, how do they feel about living near them, or not near enough to them, what their kids are challenging them with, or learn enough about them to understand why they don't have kids, or why they chose to adopt. I know I'm skipping a lot of in between relationship building, which is why I said months, it takes time and consistent effort to foster trust, think of your cat, or dog, or any other carbon based life form that you interact with. Why should the person you share a current life mission with, not be afforded the courtesy of getting to know them on a deeper level?

You know what's even more rewarding, is threading the connections of people you get to know, connecting them with someone else you know is going through similar challenges, to humanize their situation, to let them feel heard and not alone. That is beautiful stuff, who the hell came up with trust falls? I'm not going to let you feed my cat when I'm on vacation because you touched my sweaty back with the rest of the marketing team on one fine Saturday afternoon.

Once in a while, bring them all sugar, or healthy snacks, alternate based on the dip in the week. Foster these deeper connections, because they serve to chip away at the shadows.

Step two? I might write it up if you've mastered step one, let me know what you currently do to foster human relationships where you are. What are you known for? Are you cornbread Kareem? Coleslaw Kerry, or donut hole Saeed?

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