What’s going on with this “Occupy Wall Street” movement? Does it concern you in the least? Maybe it ought to. Let’s take a quick look at how this social phenomenon may indirectly affect your company and how you’d keep something like it away from your doors.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
It began with a gathering in New York City, about a month ago. People came together in Zuccotti Park to protest economic inequity in the USA in the location that, to them, symbolizes what’s wrong with the country.
Their protest in New York City is small, by most standards. That could be due to their insistence that the protest be “organic”, or run simply on its own inertia. Judging from the spread of the New York protest to large cities around the world, however, there seems to be something to this idea of Occupy Wall Street having a life of its own, for now.
Still, the general consensus seems to be that without leadership or a clear, concise set of goals, the Occupy Wall Street movement will come to a halt in the not-so-distant future. I’m sure that’s what the Wall Street firms would like to see happen — don’t throw any fuel onto the fire and it’ll die out on its own. Lacking a visible, unifying leader and shared principles, the movement may not be around for the long run…or will it? Are we seeing the whole iceberg or just the tip?
BUT WHAT DOES “OCCUPY WALL STREET” HAVE TO DO WITH MY ORGANIZATION?
On the surface? Maybe not much. The Occupy Wall Street protesters — many of them, anyway — aren’t risking their livelihoods by expressing their dissatisfaction with the economic status quo. If your employees were to voice their dissatisfaction with the way you lead or the direction in which your company’s headed, what would be the likely outcome?
In the current economic environment, a number of employers are saying, “I can find a hundred tomorrow who’ll take your place.” While that statement has more than a grain of truth to it, is that the best way to deal with dissatisfaction — by making threats and hurling insults?
Would it be better to remove yourself from the opportunity to interact with all levels of the company? Sure, you can’t afford to be distracted by every little event — that’s why you have managers. They’re supposed to handle the lower-level issues, so you can take care of the high-level ones.
Your managers are supposed to be conduits as well as filters, though. You shouldn’t be surprised by anything that goes on in your firm. If there is an undercurrent of discontent in your company, you need to know as soon as possible so you can deal with it in an effective and appropriate manner.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT DISCONTENT FROM RUINING YOUR COMPANY?
- Keep your door open to everyone. Don’t insulate yourself from what transpires on a daily basis.
- Continually review your processes, especially the process by which you get your information. Processes don’t take care of themselves. You have to review them continually to know that they’re working well or in need of improvement.
- Take care of your employees by giving them the resources they need — tools, training, etc. — to meet all internal and external requirements.
- Listen, and keep your eyes open. Not only does a closed mind not learn — it’s also a breeding ground for all kinds of problems, employee dissatisfaction among them.
- Keep all of your employees involved in an open, ongoing dialogue.
- Establish and maintain an environment where mutual trust and respect is the norm, not the exception.
- Accept your fair share of responsibility.
- Weed out fear in your organization.
- Baldoni, John, “Managing Employee Satisfaction in the Workplace”, Bloomberg-Business Week, 25 Jun 2010 – http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jun2010/ca20100623_711375.htm.
- Gregory, Kristen, “The Importance of Employee Satisfaction”, Neumann University Business Review, Spring, 2011 – http://www.neumann.edu/academics/divisions/business/journal/Review2011/Gregory.pdf.
- Rosse & Saturay, “Individual Differences in Adaptation to Work Dissatisfaction”, University of Colorado, 2004 – http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/Rosse/Research/WAM04%20presentation.pdf.
- Schneider, Bill, “Occupy Wall Street Needs Goals for Public Support”, Politico, 17 October 2011 – http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66146.html.
- Susman, Tina, “Occupy Wall Street Protesters Driven by Varying Goals”, LA Times, 29 September 2011 –http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/29/nation/la-na-wall-street-protest-20110930.