When I presented the theme of Unwritten Ground Rules (the UGR concept was developed by Steve Simpson) to the group at the launch event, I noticed a lot of nodding when I was exploring some of the ways “things are actually done around here”. This may sit uncomfortably with many people, especially senior members of organisations, who spend a lot of time designing company policy and carefully considering the approach they want the organisation to take. However whilst compiling the feedback on the activity it was clear that there are ways of working in organisations which isn’t working well but encouragingly lots of positive comments too.

I asked the group to consider 4 questions in reference to their own organisation and write anonymously on post-its:
• Around here Ethical working is considered….
• Around here mental health issues are considered…
• Around here internal communications is…
• Around here being listened to is…

In the first question, a theme emerged with “we know it’s important but it’s a lot of work when we’re already busy”. However, I also noticed a few aspirational comments about what organisations are working on to incorporate ethics into their business and how a few comments identified how important ethical practices are to their customers and regulatory body.

In the second question it was really encouraging to see mental health being taken seriously by many organisations. However, many people identified a lack of understanding around mental health issues and a continuing stigma to reach out for support with a variable approach to supporting someone “it’s important but not something we talk about”.

With regards to the 3rd question on internal communication where there was a general theme of poor internal communication practices with “patchy, limited, rushed, not great” being common responses. The quality of the message was also noted to depend on who is delivering it. However, there was also a recognition of how vital internal communication is and some people identifying good practices in their business.

The final question about being listened to, identified that this is completely dependent on the people involved and a lack of consistency across a business. Some good examples were shared, and improvements were identified however these positive comments were rare compared to the theme of many poor communication practices being identified i.e. “being talked over, someone else’s agenda takes over”.

I would like to thank all those people who attended and participated in this activity, it has provided the Ethical Reading team with lots to consider as we move forward with launching our workshop. The two modules I am designing for the workshop, focus on two of the areas above which are improving listening skills and raising awareness of mental health issues. So I look forward to working with as many of you as possible where some of the issues identified above can be reduced or removed completely from businesses in Reading.

The full list of points discussed at this session can be downloaded here.

Emma Campolucci is a passionate people person who has devoted the last decade to learning ways to support people grow and develop. She has a psychology degree and is a qualified counsellor. She has developed and delivered courses on Stress Management, Improving self – confidence and self-compassion and Journaling for Wellbeing. She is currently planning 3 new courses on managing depression, improving listening skills to improve relationships and understanding the impact of technology on wellbeing.