Sunday Notes: What’s in a name?

name1Have you noticed how key workplace topics are renamed and re-branded over the years? Lately, I’ve been observing more of this.

When organizational culture became the latest “buzz”  – everyone became hyper-focused upon the concept. Can culture be measured? Who was measuring it? How is it done? But those in the organizational development realm had really been examining (and measuring) culture all along. It might have been labeled an “attitude survey” or “employee insights”,  but key aspects of culture always lived (and were revealed) there. We knew that without taking the “pulse” of an organization, we couldn’t help them become healthier with a new training program or hiring initiative. We may have not called it a “culture assessment” – but in essence it was.

The same re-branding process applies to evolving roles in the workplace. At first glance, it appears that some of the newer job categories are highly revolutionary – but that’s really not accurate. These roles have simply evolved. For example, the role of Community Manager seems to have materialized with the rise of social media – but that is really not the case. The is role has much older roots. As explained by Tim McDonald, Founder of My Community Manager:

” It is important to realize that a community manager may or may not leverage social media. It’s grown because of social media. We’ve seen them in the form of receptionists, non-profit organizers, dock foreman, and many others, but didn’t call them community managers.”

This is absolutely true. The importance of connecting with a community of clients or customers, didn’t originate with the advent of social media. The basic need has always existed – and has been a priority for intelligent organizations. Just as the culture of an organization has always been at the core of organizational success.

We update enduring workplace concepts, and they become interesting to us once again. This gives us another opportunity to master the subject and create value.

The names may have changed – but the primary power behind the ideas has not.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

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