I had an interesting interaction this week concerning my last two posts, and it reminded me how critical our viewpoint is to understanding. Now, before I launch into this, I must preface it with two comments: One, I am not going to tell you who the platform is because I have great respect for them, and two, I fully align with posting platforms having and enforcing their own standards. With that foundation, let me tell you what happened. This is a beautiful example and underscores how we don’t all see the same things – which makes it harder to effectively engage our staff.
To refresh your memory, my last two posts were somewhat tactical. Two weeks ago, by popular online demand, I wrote “A Beginner’s Guide to Standardizing Document Content” detailing some of the standardization to pay attention to along with a real-life example. Last week, I wrote a follow up piece (also conceived after receiving questions from readers about what tools I use), entitled, “My Four Go-To Style Resources.” This piece was a quick overview of several tools that have served me well over the years. Using these tools alone will put you far ahead of most companies creating their own content.
So, here’s what happened. Each week, our posts hit our company website early Thursday morning and are then posted to a half a dozen other sites (e.g., Medium, LinkedIn). The two articles above were both rejected by one of our posting platforms. I went back and checked their posting guidelines and was unable to find anything that would cause them to be rejected. Thinking that it was a mistake or some other anomaly, I reposted one of them and, sure enough, it was rejected again. Hmmm.
To ensure our content is reaching the right audiences, we review platform missions prior to posting on a new platform, but we reviewed this one again. Maybe there was something in there that was not a good fit for them. This entire site’s mission is about improving human potential and performance, so that didn’t appear to be the reason either. One of my driving passions is to improve engagement at companies all over the world, so I really needed to get to the bottom of this. What exactly was it that this particular platform didn’t like about my posts?
Finally, I reached out to them directly. The response I received was that the site was devoted to improving mental health and happiness (reworded here to obscure their identity) and therefor these two articles were not a good fit. I went back and re-read them, and – here’s the important part – I did not see how they weren’t a fit. How could they possibly not see how these articles related to employee engagement and the resulting improvements in happiness and performance?
Then it hit me. They had a different “view of the field” than I did.
Many years ago, we had a speaker come to our offices to talk about how we could all communicate better. The one thing that stood out to me from her talk was the “view of the field.” She explained that any discussion was like a giant football field with each person located at different places around the outer edge of the field. Quite simply, where you were located on that outer edge dictated your view of the discussion, situation, or project. Since we are all located at different places, we all have differing views – of the exact same thing. Then, she drew it on the board, and it all became glaringly clear.
When I remembered the view of the field, I realized that I was standing on the side of the field that could clearly “see” how standards are fundamental to employee understanding, empowerment, productivity, and ultimately happiness. The posting platform is in a different location (remember, on the same field) where it is not possible for them to see the same thing I am seeing. Not only did this clear up the confusion for me immediately, it gave me the insight to reword the article for just their platform so it would be accepted (their suggestion), and it served as a reminder of how important it is to have standards so that we can create a company environment where, as much as possible, we are all viewing procedures from the same side of the field.
It is vitally important that we standardize our content so that we create a single (or at least similar) viewpoint for all of our staff to digest what we are telling them. That way, there is no misunderstanding or confusion like I experienced above.