A few years back, I was invited to a meeting that was promoted as the opportunity of a lifetime. Our host had gathered fourteen potential investors for a new hospital. All were sitting tall, waiting to hear what we were told was a killer presentation that would make our decision a literal “no brainer”.
Unfortunately, when our meeting was to start, our host couldn’t find his presenter. Later, we would learn the pitchman was in one hotel conference room while his audience was in another.
“Nothing matters until it matters.” The first time I heard this expression I was sitting in front of a US Federal Court judge, and he was scolding me. It was more than twenty years ago. I was sitting before him as the CEO of a hospital and healthcare system that was in violation of US Medicare and Medicaid regulations. I had just finished explaining to him that every rural health care facility in the US state in which my company operated was currently violating particular regulation and had been doing so for years.
As a global society, we appear to have completely lost RESPECT for ourselves and others. And, all of what we see happening in our personal, political, and social environments could be improved with a little respect and consideration for one another.
In this second part of the Friendship Series, and its presence in the workplace, we consider what it takes to create a friendship and the harder task of keeping a friendship vibrant.
My father, a truly wise man said to me in my early teens, when someone I thought to be a close friend abandoned his relationship with me in the interest of aligning with others more popular than I was, he said “Son, if at the end of your lifetime you can fill the fingers of one hand with those you truly consider to be a friend, you will be a lucky man. Real friends are as rare a hen’s teeth.”
In less than a week two people from opposite sides of the world have called me to ask about “friendships in the work place.” In both cases, the question centered on disappointment. In two different scenarios, it seems one party to a dynamic had not acted, as a friend, the way another party to the dynamic thought they should have. For both of the persons contacting me, their concern really boiled down to the question, “Can you really have friends in the workplace?”
In my opinion, it isn’t impossible but it takes two things to make it work. One is a shared understanding of what friendship and being a friend really means. Two, it takes real “Maturity” in both parties to the relationship.
A few years back, my youngest daughter and I shared back-to-back poor customer service experiences. As we were driving home from the second poor interaction with the employees of a business, we conducted a post-mortem. It quickly occurred to us that the underlying problem was a lack of respect. What was most interesting was my daughters comment that, “we were not respected as customers because the persons serving us did not respect themselves in what they were doing”. She recognized they did not approach their jobs in a professional manner. They took little pride in what they were doing. Put simply, “respect” for one’s self and respect for others are essential components of what is good customer service.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit with a group of people involved in the same business. Each person in the group brought needed sets of experience and expertise to the table and the discussion that was taking place. Actually, these “players” have known one another and worked together for years. Some consider themselves close friends. Most, seeing one another’s success in their business, decided to work together in mutual interest. Some years now into their venture things aren’t awful, but there is soft tension between them and things just aren’t moving as fast they all hoped they would. Now, while dealing with a significant issue, I observed a likely problem in their communications and, subsequently, their on-going. I realized the stopper was probably affecting their degree of success in the business relationship. They were talking around one another in vicious circles. An hour into their conversation they had gone nowhere. And, it was clear they were victims of a lack of “Intentional Action”.