One of the most powerful moments came for me when I attended a workshop called “Understanding the Hip Hop Culture” produced by a company called Beyond the Classroom. We had an amazing speaker, Dr. Rashid Shabazz, a principal from a school in inner city Chicago, who shared with us the power and influence of music in education. With hip hop being the most popular genre of music amongst youth world wide, it made sense that we were looking for ways to incorporate it in classrooms.
So what has changed?
Now I’m back in a corporate setting. I read about leadership, quality, and the pursuit of excellence, and everything keeps coming back around to the idea of employee engagement. The top down model is a thing of the past. And I find myself thinking, "I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, the tables turned. And employees who used to follow directions just because their boss told them to do something are now looking at the boss saying, 'what are you going to do for me?'”
They are waiting for it, whatever it is, to be made a little more appealing to their taste. If "it" is not communicated well enough, or made appealing enough, it will simply not stick. And I have found myself on both sides of the issue, both as the questioning employee, and as a supervisor searching for ways to engage coworkers at the peer level, as well as above and below my position. We need something like flocabulary for the workplace.
Why the shift? One reason could be the instant access to information and inspiration available online. Generation Y and many of Generation X (that’s me!) have grown up with the internet and the immediate gratification of finding anything you need in seconds, complimented by web sites that are becoming smarter and smarter at figuring out what type of results we want them to provide. Technology has become so intuitive that we almost don't even have to think for ourselves. And what wonderful gadgets and games we have to entertain ourselves. Why would we ever want to sit through a lecture or conference call when we could be multitasking with entertainment?
Other reasons could be the prevalence of corporate corruption that is the target of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the down economy, or simply the evolution of man. We want to be treated equally and fairly. Basic human rights long withheld from people based on race, religion, and gender have been granted over time as we move in the direction of truly accepting that we are all created equally. So it’s only natural that this expectation is extending to our youth and all of us in the workforce. The resistance to doing what we are told without question is a natural part of our evolution, and it's high time for a revolution in both education and corporate America.
So where do we begin? We, all of us, respect our superiors (teachers, parents, bosses) when we are treated with respect. We are craving strong, fair leaders. There is no time or room to place blame. It’s too late to be a pessimist. Whether you are the student or the teacher, the employee or the boss, treat those around you with respect and kindness. We can create a bridge between generations, learning styles, and knowledge gaps with respect. The power of love between human beings is a force that will never be overtaken by technology, and should always guide our actions as we adapt to changes in society.
This isn't complicated. Start with the basic Golden Rule, the "most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others” (wikipedia.com). We don't need an act of Congress or an epiphany. We just need to honor our basic human need to love and be loved. Change is stressful, and inevitable. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to accept our role in the evolution. When a system as large as education or the marketplace has cracks, it's only natural for individuals within the system to begin to resist. Both need to change and will. We influence when and how that happens, whether we step up to the plate or not. Our actions create a ripple effect…what does yours look like?