One of the biggest things that we hear about these days when it comes to election time is 'voter apathy'. I'm writing this article on the morning of election day 2015 so we have yet to see whether the tumultuous political climate will do anything to improve this situation and, when the smoke clears, whether the increase (if any) in voter turnout will have been a stabilising or destabilising influence in terms of forming a viable government.
What Is Apathy?
Apathy can be best summed up as 'I don't care' or, 'It doesn't matter what I think, nobody listens to what I think anyway'. Do any of these statements seem familiar to you? Do you feel apathetic about your work or do you have difficulties dealing with team members who are apathetic about the product or service that you are trying to build. Have you lost the passion that you value so highly to do the best that you can do and how do you get it back? Even if you aren't having to deal with problems of apathy it's important to think about how you can prevent it from happening.
The concern about not dealing with apathy is that, as frustration gets pent-up over time it's effects become progressively more severe. In my introduction I mentioned the questions around whether a break in voter apathy will lead to a more stabilised or a more destabilised political situation. As we have allowed voter apathy to increase over time we have allowed frustrations to become pent-up. This decreases predictability and increases the likelihood of problem resolution becoming explosive.
Lack of control in teams
Members of your team will not become apathetic if they feel that they can effect change within their workspace and that they have a modicum of control over how they do their jobs. People put in highly constrained or pressured roles where they have no control to effect change to make things better leads to frustration, apathy and eventually burnout. It is well understood that workplace stress is directly related not to pressure alone but to the relationship between pressure and control. In addition to not living up to your potential your team then begins to haemorrhage staff, losing significant knowledge value in the process.
The key to preventing the rise of apathy is empowerment. An empowered team must have an outlet through which they can report anything that they see as not working correctly. This allows them to vent frustrations before they build up and pass vital information on to people who are in the right place to reduce the pressures or issues that are causing the team to operate in an ineffective manner. When rolling out a change programme to a client this is the de facto starting point. Once you have a mechanism to identify what needs to change then you can then set to work putting in place a mechanism to effect that change. In the agile world we call this process the retrospective. We provide the Accelerator programme and Horsepower review to ensure that your product development is working as well as it can be and we can set up a retrospective vehicle for you as part of these services.
What about the election?
If you are a British citizen then YOU are empowered. YOU can effect change. No matter what your allegiance is, the democratic process is there to empower the people of the country. The election is your retrospective, but if you don't vote for what you believe in then nobody can represent you. If nobody stands up for what you believe then take the initiative and stand for yourself.