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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Hope in the workplace

Is hope enough?


The word 'hope' has been following me this week.

Last night I watched the brilliant (but often painful to watch) Shawshank Redemption*, which amongst so many great messages covers 'hope' with central character Andy Dufrense saying...


On winning her 19th slam title yesterday, Serena Williams said in an inspiring speech** "I walked on court with a ball and a racket and hope" to describe the start of her journey.

These quotes reminded me that earlier this week, I'd had a conversation with a jobseeker who said they 'hoped they'd find work soon'.

Also this week, Langley House Trust said farewell to their departing Chair Anthony Howlett-Bolton. At the celebration, we were reminded of some of his key phrases/teachings. One, not mentioned, that stays with me is his perspective on 'hope' as whenever Anthony attached hope to an expected outcome - he rephrased his statement. Not because he is a man without hope but rather because he recognised that hope alone doesn't get the job done, which was at odds with the manner of the jobseeker I mentioned.

How often, however, do we (you, I!) talk about hope as if it will get us a result? We need to be careful of using hope as a driver especially in our communications, eg giving instructions, with others. I know in my HR career, I've often talked to managers who've said 'we hoped the situation would improve' for example. What, that's it - you just 'hoped'?!

So whilst positive, what place (if any) does hope have in the workplace?

Taking the Shawshank and Serena examples actually helps us answer this. Because, whilst Hope is an inspiring message, in reality it wasn't hope alone that ensured Andy's escape or secured Serena's win. Yes hope was a strong ideal, a factor, but it wasn't lazy!

  • Andy's hope was backed by knowing his truth, using his skills, and a patient, well executed plan. 
  • Serena's hope was backed by talent, self-belief, practice, and hard work.
  • Both show(ed) absolute determination and dedication, took their knocks and got up again defying the odds, and ensured they had company on their journey in order to achieve the goal(s).

In other words, Hope needs backing!

Sure, inspire people with hope in business but don't forget to communicate all that goes with it if you want it to get you results.

* Based on a book by Stephen King
** See Serena's speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgw4F90oFRQ (2.05 minutes)

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Denise x

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