I understand it as the thing that means folk will stay a little longer, put a little more in, keep the place a little tidier, a sense of pride, of liking being here, of choosing to put our time and energy in to something collective…. that stuff that is put under the heading “intangible”.
It’s a bit tricky to measure (although, if you’re an accountant, I believe there is a methodology of sorts) yet you can often sense it, feel it in an organisational context. If you work in a place that is operating with a fat dose of good will – you know it.
I’ve been in two conversations of late with people grappling with a sense of having “lost something”. In both instances, there was still a sense of wanting to do the job well (showing up in conversation as: a kind of longing to be free to create, craft and contribute well to what they love and know; a sense that they are good at the job: the Doing What I Do stuff) but somehow, somewhere they felt…unappreciated… disallowed from being able to do what they could…slightly naffed off… like they were being taken for a ride by the organisation… as if the context they currently found themselves in seemed to require them to Give more than was being Given. Little or no reciprocity. A sense of being Had.
During the conversations, Big Words were coming to mind: Trust. Motivation. Empowerment. Engagement. Culture.
Wearing my Consultancy Hat, there is always a temptation to name the issue quickly (see how clever I can be?).
When I take it off and listen as a human – I often hear the complexity of what is being experienced. The love/hate/like/apathy that gets experienced in an organisational setting. It’s kind of frustrating to hear folk grappling; part of me will always want to fix, to salve, to soothe, to sort (Hell, part of what I get brought in to do sometimes is just that.)
So it was in one conversation, I was gearing up to diagnose the issue as I saw it….when the words “good will” were spoken. Then said again – with more conviction. What had been lost was suddenly found – or rather it had now been located… somewhere…because it was still resolutely not being carried about by the Person… the Speaker was still very very much separated from the lost “good will” – but now at least they seemed to have a sense of what it was that needed finding.
And so I have been thinking about good will. What happens when we lose it? Where does it go? Is it replicable like a passport, or something that, once lost, simply cannot be replaced?
I guess what I notice is that organisationally, we can be curiously disinterested in good will – we get very interested in “engagement” and the like :“We Must Enagage You”
Yet in doing so, we seem to forget that being generous (and I don’t mean with wages, though sure – go ahead and do that too) compassionate, considerate and… well just kind of basically polite to the people we work with actually goes a long way to making folk want to take part in organisational life.
If goodwill were an actual currency – would we squander it so freely, I wonder?
I am lucky enough to be continuing the conversations – I am listening, learning, cheering and encouraging the pursuit of good will.