Thursday, August 21, 2008

The PDA Prayer

Sometimes you don't know the impact your habits have on others.

Last week I was in Calgary visiting family. My brother works for a large energy firm that has operations across Canada. We were off for a run together along the beautiful Bow River when he related a telling story.

Senior management at his company was rolling out a new strategic initiative and sent a corporate team to present and acquire feedback from each plant. Mike told me to picture the scene at the first operation: 350 employees seated in rows about to hear management's vision and view the PowerPoint. Standing at the back of the hall, he noticed head office's corporate team were spread across the front row and (in his words) it looked like the front row of pews in a church.

"What do you mean?" I inquired

"It was the PDA prayer" he responded.

Apparently every maneger was hunched over their PDA - rolled shoulders, bowed head, hands in lap. From behind, it looked like they were all hunched in prayer during the talk. I had a good laugh until my brother commented on the unintended result.

"Dave, you should have heard the reaction of the employees to me afterwards. All they could see were a bunch of managers not paying attention to the new strategic rollout. They let me know if management didn't think it was important enough to listen to - why should they?"

Now you and I know that management had heard this talk before and were likely "multi-tasking."

But think of the lack of employee buy-in due to the impression they were leaving. where you do the PDA prayer.