Inside Out E-Column: Aligning Employee Engagement with Marketing Communications

Closing the distance.

My friend and colleague, Richard Barrett, wrote a book several years ago called “Liberating the Corporate Soul.”  It’s exceptional on many levels, as I wrote in a review that is posted on Amazon.com.  One remarkable quality about Richard’s book is how it is both wonderfully inspiring and technically rigorous.  Marcello Palazzi, Co-Founder and Chair of the Progessio Foundation said that “Liberating the Corporate Soul achieves the impossible: it integrates the intangibles of ethics, vision, and consciousness into a tangible measurement system.”

 Much of Richard’s work is rooted in his experiences from when he worked at the World Bank.  During his years there, he developed a strong conviction that the institution needed to focus more of its attention on the issue of human rights in its monetary policies and decision-making.  Since he was a mid-level manager with limited influence, he decided that he would need to take a less conventional approach if he wanted to reach the ears – and hearts – of senior management.

Building Leverage Over Lunch

He began his quest by inviting a handful of friends to join him for a “brown bag lunch” to discuss the role of the World Bank in addressing human rights issues.  At the end of their lunch, the group agreed that they would meet again – and invite others who might share a similar interest.  They continued this “pyramid” approach of attracting like-minded colleagues until after a year the group had grown to more than a hundred people.  Eventually, it attracted the attention of senior management – some of whom also began attending the luncheons.  Not long after that, human rights found its way onto the bank’s agenda of top priorities.

That experience led Richard to do more work in the areas of values and human development in the workplace.  He eventually left the World Bank to pursue a career in consulting that led to the publication of “Liberating the Corporate Soul.”  I’ve often cited a quote from his book that has significant implications for professional communicators, as well as HR and organizational development people. . .

“Nearly all the tension and all the fear in the world originates

from the sense of separation we have from one another.”

 For me, that quote speaks volumes about what it takes to achieve a level of trust that sparks meaningful employee engagement – that gut level drive for people to willingly, even eagerly, go the extra mile for the mutual benefit of the employee and the company alike.  For professionals in the “people business,” that phrase can serve as a touchstone and a mission for their work – to close the distance that separates people from one another in the workplace.

 Over the years, I’ve collected and created a number of quotes that I’ve found thought-provoking or inspirational about employee engagement and communication – including Richard’s.  I’ve compiled some of them into a 4-minute “moviette.”  You can see it by clicking on the title I’ve given it as a tribute to Richard and his work – “Closing the Distance.”   So find yourself a bag of popcorn…sit back…and enjoy.

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