Now is the time to lighten up, not lock down. I say this as I watch a case of mass control-freak-itis surge through workplaces across my network of friends and colleagues. Companies (and companies really are just people) are freaked out, unsure of almost everything they had counted on, from revenue streams to lines of credit.
But so many companies are missing a valuable point. Now is the time they need employees on their side, defending them at the cocktail parties, proud of how they’re handling the challenges. Shoulder-to-shoulder and ready for whatever comes. Now is NOT the time to start a new sign-out policy for office supplies or to kill the company happy hour. Make everyone buy their own beer if you must, but find a way to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
I have one friend at a company that is swimming against the tide. They’re instituting their own brand of company-sponsored stand-up comedy, and they managed (rather by chance) to employ an entire rock band, and they plays at company town hall meetings. Yes, the CEO could squawk about productivity, or a half-dozen other really business-school-worthy performance indicators. But the things that are going to pull us through are harder to measure than that in these topsy-turvy times. Character and intention matter more than ever. I wish companies would remember that keeping people in their jobs may be enough in the short-term, but keeping them pulling together is the only way to win the long race.
Here’s to those companies still celebrating victories, however small they are.