Beware the promise not kept.

The notion of promises seems a bit old fashioned nowadays and yet, we believe in them, at least when others make them to us.

When a friend says, I've got your back, we rely on them. When our family says they'll do something, we buy into that. And when our partner says, I do, we trust they mean that to their very soul.

And, to a very real extent, when our employer says they want us for the long term, we hope its true, even though we know its not likely.

Design Flaw

Thus the conflict inherrent in the deisgn of the modern workplace. The speed of change is at constant odds with the desire for security.

Employers talk about engagement and flexible work schedules while at the same time acquiring and divesting assets at an increasing rate. We should be engaged even though we're not sure we are going to be employed.

In start-up crazy Silcon Valley (and Silicon Hills where I live) I have to double-check where friends are working when I connect with them peridocially: no one stays anywhere too long anymore, at least not around here.

The speed of the market place for products, services and jobs means those very jobs have the shelf life of last year's trendy phone.

New Conversation

We need a new conversation about work and the workplace contract. The promise if you will.

If market forces mean long term employment is fast fading if not already entirely gone, what then takes its place? How do employers drive engagement in times of rapid turnover? And what of the employee: is there really such an animal anymore, or are we all simply free agents of various stripes some of us more conscious of that than others.

We feel betrayed when our employers shift locations, shed jobs and exit markets. And employers scratch their heads when HR says the engagement results are low. We both wonder what's wrong with the other side.

We need a new dynamic in work, a new understanding of what a job really is and how long its likely to last. This new model is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, but so did seat belts until we understood they saved lives.

People can adapt, they can't however make peace with broken promises and untruths.

As we move deep into the 21st century we need to rethink the workplace model and change the implied promise so everyone can understand what's at risk, and what the rewards are. Its a tough conversation but is much preferable to rationalizing the promise not kept.


What's your promise?




2 thoughts on “Promises

  1. My promise is to never make any of the tons of empty promises a previous boss made! (Don’t get me wrong. That was a great boss, and we made a terrific team. But making promises one doesn’t bother to keep can ruin anything.) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s