Saturday, 14 November 2009

There is hope

 This maybe my "last hurrah". A montage of three photos taken at the Conference Hall just before I gave my "last" talk on Kampus Sejahtera and Sustainability ... 

My first remark was "you all look so young". They are the future, the new staff who will (if they don't quit) serve the university for the next 20 or 30 years. My talk is same thing I have been talking about for the last 2 years or so. But of course, with upgrades and updates along the way. I like to interact with my audience. Get them to participate. Because verbalising your thoughts is a way of learning. It is also a way for the speaker to know how much the audience already knows so that you don't bore them with the same old things. It also helps the speaker to reinforce (or validate?) what the audience knows, but is perhaps not sure or is vague about it. It takes some time for them to warm up. You need to remember to pause long enough to give them a chance to response. You need to know when to prompt them with tentative "answers" - maybe this, maybe that? You need to be open to answers which are not what you expected to hear - don't say "wrong answer", if you can avoid it. If you do, they won't open their mouths again. You must know when to praise. You must know not to show preference or favouritism. Praise should go to the whole group. But recognise individuals who shine. Make eye contact with those we are quiet - let them know that you notice that they are listening.

So you must have guessed I had a good outing yesterday afternoon. Response was very good, after the initiate hesitation. They also showed concern. They showed that they know the issues. And they have the knowledge. But they are not empowered. I asked them "if you go to a function and they are using polystyrence containers and plates, would you write an email to the VC to complaint?'. Everyone said no. Yes, everyone. Perhaps it is too small a problem to write or complain all the way to the CEO. But I think the main reason is that we have not made it OK to make it our business to mind other people's business. I can almost guarantee that the staff who complains to VC will get called up by Head of Department for insubordination. Will the Whistleblowers provision in our APEX University Constitution do the trick? Having the law is one thing, creating the culture it something else.

But there is hope. In change management lingo, it is not just "buy-in" that we need. We must enable ownership. We must make all the staff make it their personal agenda to go green. To live the lifestyle of less waste, less consumption. So, we must make it OK for everyone, especially from the bottom up, to engage in disruptive behaviour - not business as usual.

I sometimes have a gift to encourage participation. Yesterday I had a Tupperware Sports Bottle and one lady "won" it based on her (repeated) responses. As I was leaving, I approached her with the bottle. And I said out loud "It's OK to reject the gift. You don't have to accept it". She had started to reach out for the bottle. Then hesitated. Then she said she already have a water bottle, she didn't need another one. Sure?, I asked. Yes, she confirmed. So, I turned around asked who didn't have a water bottle and would like to have the bottle (earlier, I found out that half the audience didn't carry a water bottle with them, which is OK, if they choose to drink in the pantry with a glass). I gave it to one of the guys who raised his hand.

As I was leaving, I grinned at the lady and gave her the thumbs up. Yes, there is hope. I got the message through this time.

1 comment:

Abe said...

am encouraged by this post!