I ran a small focus group in a huge media organisation yesterday. We weren’t testing anything. We weren’t looking for any evidence or support. We were trying to find out more about how men and women work together.
I’m working at the mo on reframing the tired old women-in-business narrative as a new story that will help both men and women.
Yesterday’s conversation was one of the pieces of the jigsaw.
(I’m just thinking how appropriate some old – slightly cracked- tea cups like the one in which my double espresso is sitting right now would have been to the idea of conversation. This café is a stranger to the conventions of modern coffee retail chains and clings to the use of old ornate china for everything. Love it.)
As often happens, 24 hours’ noodling helps reveal a bit of a gap between what we thought we were doing, and what happened.
What I’m going to share may make you laugh at its obviousness, snort at its simplicity and shake your head at the puny standard of business advice these days.
You see I now suspect that the fact we held it at ALL is what mattered. Possibly more than the specific findings, wonderful as they were (of which more another time).
Here are my top conclusions from the experience after 24 hours, and after reading through the feedback.
- Being asked to debate and think about the topic ⇒ being valued
- Allocating time and professional attention (and a loose structure) ⇒ being valued
- Creating a good safe space for challenge ⇒ being valued
- Thinking out loud with others, comparing experiences ⇒ being valued
Which led to, it would appear:
- my company values me ⇒ I value the company
And just to hammer the point home, participants talked today of wanting to help do more.
So I’m going to keep a wary eye out for ‘engagement initiatives’. I don’t think that’s the place to start.
The place to start is by valuing each other enough to sit down and talk and listen and reveal something of ourselves.
Nothing valued, nothing gained, no?