Getting Input: No Longer Optional

The spread of social media has made us expect everything to be more interactive. Think about how we interact with the news.

In the old days, a person could respond to a newspaper article with a letter to the editor. Perhaps three or four would be published in any given edition. However, today a journalist may write a great article that’s published in a national publication, but that article is followed by comments which may number into the hundreds or thousands. And this happens day after day on countless sites.

How has this affected the way we expect to interact with issues, organizations, leaders, and events? I think it has created a new expectation that our voices, our perspectives, and our opinions are valid, regardless of our age or position in the organization. We see our comments published. We see other people’s comments published. It has fundamentally changed the way we expect to be treated.

Not only do we expect our voice to be heard, but we also expect to be responded toalmost immediately.

Just consider the new show that ABC Television is launching soon called Rising Star. I remember just a few years ago when the show American Idol allowed viewers to vote for their favorite musical artist by texting in their choice. The results were announced on the next episode, which was a day or a week later. Rising Star is also a show where new musical artists are chosen. However, in this new format, not only does the viewing audience get to be the judge, (recognize the theme?), but now the results are published immediately.

I see a lot of organizations that are skimming the surface of social media, but totally ignoring the deeper implications of this fundamental change. At the same time, we continue to hear that the American worker is largely unengaged.

Some surveys suggest that as many as 7 out of 10 workers are not engaged at work. Is it possible that one big reason is that we expect to have a meaningful venue for input—and that the average job simply doesn’t provide it? Is it possible that the result is that they give their compliance, but not their passion?

I’m convinced that shows like American Idol and Rising Star are giving us some big clues about how to inspire a shared vision on your team. In simple words, find a way to get meaningful input from every person. It’s a little bit like salt. Once you get used to it, when you eat something without salt, it’s just not the same. When you are used to giving input in so many places, you start to expect the same thing at work.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Chief Operations Officer, Strategic Government Resources

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