Mary Barra has worked for GM for four decades. Before she became CEO, she headed Global HR.
After replacing GM’s 10-page dress code treatise with a two-word appeal: “Dress Appropriately,” Barra received a scathing email from a senior-level director. “He said, ‘You need to put out a better dress policy, this is not enough.’ So I called him—and of course, that shook him a little bit. And I asked him to help me understand why the policy was inept.”
The director explained that occasionally, some people on his team had to deal with government officials on short notice, and had to be dressed appropriately for that.
“Okay, why don’t you talk to your team,” Barra replied. “He was an established leader at GM, responsible for a pretty important part of the company, with a multimillion-dollar budget. He called me back a few minutes later, saying, ‘I talked to the team, we brainstormed, and we agreed that the four people who occasionally need to meet with government officials will keep a pair of dress pants in their locker. Problem solved.’” Yahoo.Finance
Let's not get boxed in by bureaucracy. Don't forget the human touch.
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- Be helpful, offer leads, ideas, and build your network. This is a positive-sum culture.
- Be who you say you are (use your real name), and don’t say anything you won’t stand behind.
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- Respect truth, honesty, evidence, and reason… all with compassion.
- Fight fair: Argue with passion but keep your passion on point; don’t be manipulative or manipulated; allow space and time for ideas to percolate. Remember: the best ideas are forged over time from diverse perspectives.
- Recognize the messiness of the ever-changing world: we must all navigate competing goals and values to peacefully co-exist.
- Use humor constructively and compassionately. We are dealing with serious subjects and we can tend to get carried away. The judicious use of humor can soften a situation, enabling reflection and compromise. A sense of humor helps us get through difficult times and help us to find common ground.
- Have the long view: understand and accept that the end of all disputes is inevitably diplomatic.
- Strive for understanding first. We may or may not always agree but let's at least get along.
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