When I started this blog, a song came into my head and would not go away. Do you know who it is?
“The last thing I want to do is say goodbye.
Don’t tell me hello hello when everything you say sounds like goodbye.”
As I have grown older, I realise how important saying hello and goodbye is in my life. The Beatles also wrote a song about that (and no, that’s not the artist). When I pick up or drop off my step-kids at their second home I always make sure we all say hello and goodbye. It’s taken some hard training. And when I leave or arrive at my own home I say goodbye or hello to whoever is in, although sometimes there is no one at all! At the OPRA office I always announce my presence and departure in a loud and attention seeking way.
So, this clearly says a lot about me and my preferences, but it also got me thinking about hellos and goodbyes in the workplace. How many of us are so busy staring at our PC screen, our TO-DO list, or a fascinating piece of information on our desk, that we give a meagre over the shoulder greeting to our colleagues? In addition to this, we are living in times of constant change and with that come people in and out of our working lives. Teams re-structure, people leave a job, projects are set up and completed, offices are moved, businesses merge, bosses move on and leaders change.
It is vital that we recognise our human response to this kind of relationship change, which occasionally can be quite sudden. Much will depend on our relationship with the person or people in question as to how affected we are by them coming or going. We may be relieved or worried, elated or gutted; whichever way we respond it is a new beginning or an ending and we need to acknowledge those feelings in some way. I guess I am talking about that word I don’t really like and it is ‘closure’.
Teams move through the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing, and I could add the stage of mourning. Someone goes, there’s a loss and a gap, we need to work through that often at the same time as a new comer arriving and the team re-forming. So why not reflect on the importance of hellos and goodbyes in your working life and your life on the whole. And if you don’t share my personal need for them then consider that some others you work with probably do. A simple greeting is an acknowledgement of our presence and therefore our significance, which in turn can affect our motivation, engagement and productivity at work.
There will certainly be some goodbyes and hellos lying ahead this year for our organisations. Let’s notice and anticipate them and think about how we are going to manage them for the best (oh – and lift our head from the PC screen!).
P.S. the answer is Bic Runga.