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Why you need to have a happy workforce

9th February 2022

Stuart Thomson: Beware Closed Minds Around You

Stuart Thomson

A creative working environment should recognise the abilities and contribution of everyone. Sadly, despite what they may say, not all organisations live up to the high standards they claim to live by.  But don’t give up on them.  Instead, think about how to encourage change.

Starting a new job is always accompanied by a high level of excitement and expectation.  For those entering the world of work for the first time, there is trepidation but enthusiasm as well and, for most, a real willingness to get involved.

Most organisations appreciate that input and drive, but some seem less willing to make the most of the opportunities.  Certainly, there can be structures and hierarchies that prevent voices being listened to but, more often than not, it is about the people. 

Having such a closed mind goes against every leadership book you read or podcast you listen to, but it still happens.  The closed mind might be a result of a fear of being made to look bad, a poor personal relationship or, more simply, intransigence on their part.  An undying belief in ‘the way we’ve always done things’ should not be underestimated.  So those with a closed mind either don’t listen or don’t recognise the contributions that come their way.  They simply end up being dismissive.

If you are faced with such a situation then do not downgrade your expectations. 

The initial knee-jerk reaction is to look for a new job.  That is certainly one option but not one that guarantees success.  It is a cliché to say that the grass is not always greener but that definitely applies to the work environment.  All roles and employers have their challenges.

Instead, your best option, and one that may help you in the longer-term, is to stay and fight to be heard.  If you can be successful, then opening up the organisation will not only be hugely rewarding personally but will enable you to make an impression which can only help in your career. Whatever the challenge is, consider your strategy and what it should include:

  • Are there any champions you can look to work with?  You don’t have to do this alone.
  • Try to work with and not against people, so recognise their opposition but try to address it.
  • Always be clear on the benefits and try to use real life examples or information rather than relying on instinct.
  • Are there internal teams that can help, such as HR?
  • Do you understand the structure of the organisation so that you know who to talk to?

Remember, there is nothing wrong with applying some pressure and many will thank you for it.  Many employers often know when there are closed minds and are looking for ways to change.  You are providing the constructive encouragement they need. 

Communication is critical.  Issues often arise and closed minds take root when the communication is poor.  Instead of organisations being able to deal with problems they don’t because the right people are not made aware.

The input could be for a piece of client work, internal practices or focused on something more structural.  The same lessons and thought processes should apply, regardless.

So do not give up and simply look to move on.  Rather, make every effort to help open the closed minds.

The writer is the Head of Public Affairs at BDB Pitmans

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