When the topic of death is brought up many North Americans run for cover. Death is one of our most taboo topics. We are a culture that fears and denies death. It is especially true in the corporate environment. Death seems unwelcome at work.
This approach to death in the work place is and can be problematic. You see death has many names and many ways of presenting itself. Many of us tend to focus on death of a person and we miss countless opportunities to practice healthy completions, endings, terminations, closures, – deaths if you will.
We have lost our ability and capacity to do endings well. They just seem to happen and then without much notice the team is expected to simply carry on as usual. This approach to endings lacks an acknowledgment of the change and leaves the organization and its staff a little stuck mentally and emotionally. The more ‘deaths’ that occur in a company that go unacknowledged the more resistant to change the organization becomes.
(Another word for death is change – something existed and no longer does – something changed/died.)
An organization that would practice great endings would be an organization that would embrace healthy change; that would be able to more forward gracefully, authentically and honestly. An organization with a regular practice of healthy closures would be flexible and adaptable, one not clinging to the past or tradition.
Our fear of death has companies, organizations, societies, and governments stuck in old brands, old ways of doing business, old ideas, incomplete projects, unending to do lists, old policies and procedures, and old work habits. I am sure you have heard people saying things like:
“We have always done it that way here.”
“Its our tradition, our way here.”
“That’s just the way it goes here.”
“We don’t do change here.”
Even if people aren’t saying it out loud watch for the habits or work behaviors that ‘speak’ those phrases.
Fresh flowers come from ‘dead’ material – soil or compost. Breathe freshness into your organization by honoring the many ‘deaths’ that occur daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Create timely rituals that support the staff in great endings. Ensure that healthy good-byes are created and celebrations are part of the organization’s culture. Take these simple steps and your organization will not only welcome change but also encourage it.