Well the vacation is over. We are in the sky somewhere between Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon. When we landed in Dallas arriving from Cancun, Mexico it felt good to be home. As much as I enjoyed the sunny 80 degree weather it was nice to be back in the good old USA. There is just something about a group of very different people who come together and form a country that has done well. I know our country is not a theocracy, and I know our country is not perfect, far from it. But it was nice to be greeted by so many different types of people, long ones, tall ones, fat ones, short ones, to quote one of my favorite songs from the 60’s.
Leaving home is always exciting too. Whenever I use the phrase leaving home I think of the book Habits of the Heart. The writers do a wonderful job of describing individualism within the United States. The one section I am in particular thinking about deals with young people as they leave the nest. These young people have been taught certain values by they parents, and they leave home to have those values tested. Some of the values stay and some go. Some of the values become owned by the young person and others are discarded. That is the way of life.
What does this have to do with organizations? Leaving home and coming home illustrate important characteristics of healthy organizations. Obviously employees have a private life, and in that private life there are things that are important. Faith, family, and friends among other things. The employee leaves home with those values and must connect them with their work life. Organizational theorists call this work life balance. Those organizations that do a good job of balancing the dissonance of work life will typically produce better products and services. Why? Because the employee is happy. Leaving home in this case is not discarding values, but supporting those values that are important to employees. Coming home is just as important.
When we were going through customs we felt secure, a part of something bigger than ourselves, and face it important, a citizen of the United States of America. This is not to say we felt better than a citizen of Mexico, but we felt pretty darn special. Those organizations that make their employees feel secure are creating an environment that lends itself to what Chris Argyris calls psychological success. Employees that feel secure can be creative and take risk. Organizational theorists discuss the importance of organization identity. In other words, feeling good about your career and the company you work for. I have been very fortunate to work for some very good companies in my lifetime. Thirty years at the Boeing Company gave my a great sense of a positive self-image. I was a part of making the best airplanes in the world. Pretty cool!
And now as a college professor at a small college, Warner Pacific, in Portland, Oregon, I feel pretty important. I am, hopefully, making a difference in my student’s lives. I hope I am giving them excellent opportunities to develop an expand their skills to have a great career when they graduate. So there it is, leaving home and coming home does have a place in the organization. I hope all organizations figure it out, because if they don’t, they won’t be around much longer.
And that is my thought for the day!