As expected it came up right away: a call for strict separation of what is regarded as life (private), and what is regarded as work (vocational). As a reaction to my request to the audience – to reflect their level of customer-centricity between ‚zero‘ and ‚full‘ on a graph – somebody wanted to know if she had to reflect her opinion or the one of her employer: because that would be quite a difference!

Don’t we all make sure to apply a strict separation of one’s personal view and the one of the company we work for? Doing this can be quite handy, especially if you run the risk to lose your job because of a ‚non-aligned‘ opinion. Since most of us simply need a job to make a living, it is easier to overcome the frustration to leave one’s opinion behind, and adopt one of the bosses. Exceptions are quite rare within this dependency: only a few can disregard the doctrine of their employer and come out freely to defend a different stand-point. And if somebody dares to do so, you can find the story afterward in the tabloids, following the motto: „how an employee, at own will and against the boss’ order, single-handedly decided to assist the customer…!“

Because of this strong belief that work and life hardly can be combined in harmony, most employees demand a work-life balance, in which both parts are factually detached from each other. And since those who have to work for a living do not always have a free choice, nobody should be forced to work on something or for somebody against their will – that’s just fair and otherwise would be called slavery.

On the contrary, it’s also fair that no employer should be forced  against their will to employ people, who are not willing to work for them. But also this happens more than needed. Even employers are caught in dependency because without employees and suppliers few businesses can exist. Often they have to give in and take what they can get: most businesses would love to improve their ‚human capital‘, in order to have a better stance in the tough market place! That’s why the HR-execs are very nervous and continuously switch their policy between a trust-based or a control-based approach, in order to select and lead employees. Microsoft just canceled their score system, so Yahoo is introducing it…

What is best for a good relationship between employer and employee is obviously not equally acknowledged and deployed amongst the many corporations. The fact is that both sides know that they can’t live without the other. That’s why it’s called „it takes two to tango“!
Seemingly most ‚dance couples‘ obviously had bad luck when they teamed up: they step on each other’s toes, can’t stand the other and can’t, despite all efforts, get into the rhythm!
Maybe due to a lack of alternative many surrender to the situation and just keep ‚dancing’ till it’s closing time, and then rush home. There, in their lifetime, they are finally surrounded by people who are (hopefully) the chosen partners to enjoy life.

Actually it doesn’t take much to have employer and employee ‚dance’ in harmony: first, it takes good music that can lead the couple to dance well. But great dancing only happens when the music goes under the skin and enthuses the couple to jive!
Though a quick glance into most companies will reveal people who are wobbling around in total solitude, hopping on lame disco beats stemming from their own iPods – no sign of dancing in harmony! Why is this?

What good music is for good dancing, is like good purpose for a thriving organization – purpose also has to go under your skin!
A business undertaking must be able to convey the purpose of the undertaking – why it does, what it does – in such a clear way, that it animates the employees to co-undertake. If an organization only conveys what ist does, it might have the same effect as march music on dancers…
If employees share the why of their organization, they become intrinsically motivated and crave to dance, long after the disc jokey packed up his gear. Then a rhythm unfolds to which both employer and employee can harmonize: no stepping on toes anymore, on the contrary – the rhythm is highly contagious and will infect others to dance along! If customers and stakeholders notice that their ‚host‘ is having a great party, and they discover that the music is also crawling under their skin, they want to be dancing along!

So if your ‚dance partner‘ has bad breath or is stepping on your toes – do not immediately rush off to the next party: maybe your partner feels the same! Consider taking out your ear butts, or change the music: find one that is going under both your skins – „it takes two to tango“!

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