Simplify the Disparate Workplace Messages or They'll Get Lost

I just got back from a long roadtrip from Atlanta to Boston to New York to Atlanta. Like just about everyone else I saw, I carried my version of the necessary road warrior package – a laptop, Blackberry/cell phone, ipod, and camera, plus separate chargers for each. Not only did I have to have each of these devices, I had to know how to pack and repack them so they wouldn’t take up too much room and so I could get through the web of security as easily as possible. It’s a lot to think about and even more to carry. On most trips, I decide to leave the camera, the ipod, and the laptop at home, taking just the Blackberry, but also, I usually worry, taking my chances: no music, no ability to take high-quality photos, no computer.
I keep waiting for convergence – one machine to do it all and eliminate the burdens of this electronic clutter. From the grunts and grimaces of everyone somberly lugging all this vital stuff from airport to airport, I’m guessing I’m not the only traveler hoping for it. It would be so much easier, less burdensome more efficient, and of greater value than all of these devices combined. Maybe one day soon…
As I’ve written for several years now, we have the same problem in the workplace. We’re barraged by multiple messages about workplace conduct, all of which we’re told are vitally important yet each is owned by separate corporate kingdoms, from human resources to ethics to diversity to legal to affirmative action to compliance. As one client told me last week in Boston, we need to bring these disciplines together and simplify what we ask of managers and employees. Otherwise, it’s too easy to weed out the clutter just as I do with certain electronic devices. They’re important, but not worth the bother. It’s easier to prioritize what you can process and discard the rest.
That’s the best way I can think of to explain that clear organizational values tied to a few basic behaviors are the portable messages that need to be stressed. If multiple and conflicting concepts and priorities circulate throughout the workplace without any “convergence,” the most important ideas are often left behind, leading to disastrous corporate results far beyond my hardship of not having music, missing a great photo, or being unable to hammer out essays like this on my keyboard.

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