Having just returned from a trip to New Zealand, I was impressed with this incredibly beautiful country! Beyond it’s natural physical beauty, New Zealand is a country that seems to model it’s values at every turn. It is indeed one of the cleanest, friendliest and most environmentally responsible countries on the globe. It also seems to have a pretty thriving economy. I think there is a connection between the two!
It got me thinking about how organizations can follow the lead from New Zealand. Are you protecting your assets? Do you – by the way you behave (what you say and do) – tell people what you value … and do your protect what you value?
Here are some things that New Zealand is doing:
- At every turn in NZ, you will find rows of bins marked ‘Recycling’, ‘Compost’, ‘Rubbish’ – it is easy to avoid littering.
- In every washroom (toilet, as they call it), there is a button that allows you to select partial flush or full flush, depending on your needs.
- Every hotel makes it easy for you to re-use your towels – many, display ‘Fair Trade’ shampoo and conditioner. Many business owners post signs ‘local and loyal’ showing that they support their community.
- Many road signs are reminders about how to behave…’Share the Road’ is a regular feature, with an image of a car and a bicycle side by side.
- New Zealand is known for ‘no tipping’ in restaurants, taxis, etc. Staff are friendly…and a conversation with a few servers told us that they are paid more than comparable jobs in North America. It is a relief as a customer not to have to worry about tipping (which to me is often a mindless, automatic experience…we just add it to the total bill without really thinking about it) and to know that the server is being compensated fairly and is performing well because that is what the organization expects (and because it is the right, natural, thing to do) (Aside – I have a belief that tipping cultures actually kill good performance….more on that in another post.)
- One of our tour guides looked up at the sky noting a heavy cloud moving in and commented that ‘It is beautiful today… and the weather can turn…but we think that just adds to the adventure!’
With personality and charm, New Zealand tells you who they are and what they expect from you when you visit there (in addition to respecting their landscape, they appreciate a positive attitude!).
Let’s look at an example of how New Zealand’s approach can be applied in our organizations.
I took this photo outside our hotel in Queenstown.
I thought it was a humorous way to make a really good point. Walking on the grass kills the grass. This sign makes that point … and brings a smile along with it.
In your organization, do you make it easy for your employees to behave the way you want them to behave? For instance, many of my clients describe frustration with people multi-tasking on their devices while they are in meetings. They describe that it seems disrespectful to the meeting leader, and to everyone participating. In fact, it is not only irritating (and can seem very rude), it is also messing with the meeting in a big way! Distraction is contagious. At the Neuro-Leadership Institute, they call it ‘second-hand distraction’. Just like second-hand smoke is real, so is the the damage done by someone else’s distraction.
Taking a lesson from NZ, you could try a little humor. How about posting a sign like this:
That might make the point, using a little humor, and allow you to tell people what matters to you (i.e. focusing on the meeting when you are in a meeting). If your assets include the attention, focus and creativity of the people in your organization, this might be a clever way to communicate that – and to protect those assets.
What have you done in your workplace to tell people what you care about…what is important to you…how you would like them to behave? What do you do to protect your assets?
Deri Latimer is an expert in positive possibilities for people! A TEDx Speaker, Author, and Organizational consultant, Deri works with organizations who want to create happy and healthy workplaces for increased positivity, productivity and prosperity!