As a psychologist I know that making a public commitment to taking a particular action increases the likelihood that we’ll do it. We feel uncomfortable with incongruity and not following through undermines our credibility. So too with organisations and that’s why employers signing workplace charters is an important step towards culture change. The Mindful Business Charter, developed by Barclays, Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard, celebrated it’s first birthday last week and has four principles:
- openness and respect
- smart meetings and mailings
- respecting rest periods
- mindful delegation.
I applaud all who sign such charters because the decision has often come at the end of much internal debate, many challenging conversations and the creation of new processes and policies. One can’t hang a sign outside saying “we believe in this” if everything inside the organisation says the opposite. No no no, employees will be quick to tell the world – in one way or another – that their organisation is hoodwinking us.
It’s significant that this charter began as a project straddling two different professions where both can be each other’s biggest client. What often gets in the way of sensible working practices is the belief that “the client” needs something immediately/yesterday and we must deliver now, to the highest standard, irrespective of the toll it takes on the individuals managing the relationship. At the time of writing over 20 organisations have signed the MBC. All but one (Network Rail) it appears, are law firms or financial services companies. There isn’t, as yet, an MBC website to keep tabs.
The challenge now becomes for these signatory organisations to get their employees to tell the world about the positive day to day difference the charter has made and to share practical examples of how things are being done differently so others may learn and follow. When employees spread their ‘good day at work’ stories on Twitter, LinkedIn and in face to face conversations in the playground, at the gym and on public transport we know change really is happening.
Richard Foley, senior partner at Pinsent Masons, how about a TED Talk on the change you’re creating?