I’ll Name that Dog! Are you over-using staff Engagement?

Harvey. So ugly, he actually cute!

Harvey. So ugly, he’s actually cute!

I’ve made a strategic decision. Despite feedback from Matt Merrigan that he will forever abandon ‘Confessions of a Consultant’ if I mentioned anything about dogs again, I’m taking the risk. That’s the level of courage you need when blogging (Matt will probably forgive me anyway).

What’s in a Name? We couldn’t agree on a name for our new dog. Everyone in the house (5 people) had ‘pet’ ideas. So, we decided to manage this process scientifically, distributing the following voter cards.

Vote 1,2,3 in order of your choice

Possible Names Paul Linda Amie Cillian Nicole

After a rigorous process, scrutinized by the internal audit department of Tandem Consulting, the name Harvey came out on top (yes, even though it wasn’t on the list). My eldest daughter Amie, simply took an executive decision and that was that.

Management by Staff Survey: In business organizations, the necessary conditions for participative change are not always in place. Forced change is typically used when time is short, key interest groups continue to oppose change (e.g. at the end of an elongated negotiations period) or radical change is vital to survival. Lets use an extreme example to make the point.

Pilot’s Decision: Let’s assume that you are a passenger on a commercial flight from Lisbon to Dublin and a technical problem emerges during the flight. Would the pilot conduct a quick passenger survey to see what they think should be done? Perhaps have a vote on the best alternative airport to land, one which would be least inconvenient or have some great duty-free shopping? Isn’t it important to get ‘buy in’ from passengers who could be future customers of the airline? The suggestion is absurd. In these circumstances we expect, top-down decision making – using the criterion of ‘safety first’. There is no democracy at 30,000 feet, nor is any expected. Pilots have a clear instruction. Aviate. Navigate. Communicate. In that order. In similar vein, an organization, which is facing a ‘clear and present danger’, may also need strong (sometimes unilateral) leadership to avoid closure. The Chief Executive role is similar to the role of a pilot in this regard. Both are responsible for the continued ‘safety’ of the organization and this should dominate their thinking.

In contrast, in an organization, which is not under immediate threat, engaging staff around the co-creation of a better future (e.g. naming the dog) is often the best way forward. Engaging the workforce usually makes sense in terms of allowing people to put their fingerprints on a change process and become active participants. But this method is not always available. Depending on the criticality of the circumstances, a top-down or ‘forced’ change strategy may be entirely appropriate. Too often we see examples where management teams confuse ‘means’ (process) with ‘ends’ (results). You need to stay neutral on the means – selecting the method, which will deliver the best result for the organization. Don’t get too locked into the ‘Management by Staff Survey’. Trust your instinct. Sometimes you just need to call it! Henceforth to be known as the ‘Harvey Principle’.


This is a bonus photo for Matt Merrigan

This is a bonus photo for Matt Merrigan

PS Lighter Note: Did you hear about the person who was agnostic, dyslexic and an insomniac? He sat up all night wondering if there was a DOG!

Subject: Clever words for clever people! (from Andrew O Connell; he must do no work at all!)

 ARBITRAITOR: A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald

BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage

BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees through

AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tries to do

EYEDROPPER: Clumsy ophthalmologist

CONTROL: A short, ugly inmate.

COUNTERFEITER: Workers who put together kitchen cabinet

ECLIPSE: What an English barber does for a living

LEFT BANK: What the bank robbers did when their bag was full of money

HEROES: What a man in a boat doe

PARASITES: What you see from the Eiffel Tower

PARADOX: Two physicians

PHARMACIST: A helper on a farm

POLARIZE: What penguins see through

PRIMATE: Remove your spouse from in front of TV 

RELIEF: What trees do in the spring

RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife

SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does

SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a US government official

Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.



About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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2 Responses to I’ll Name that Dog! Are you over-using staff Engagement?

  1. Niall . Saul says:

    Hi Paul … I am sure the pilot in the Lisbon flight would consult you before making any decision … Given your ice cool , nerveless attitude when airborne !!! 😎..Greetings from Tenerife .. All the best ! Niall

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