Are you “strongly encouraged”?
Posted November 11, 2014on:
Practically anyone who has been in the civil service knows what “strongly encouraged” means.
Who am I kidding? Anyone who works for someone else eventually learns what that means.
For example, how often have you heard the passive-voiced, almost passive aggressive “You are strongly encouraged to attend [whatever event]”?
Leaders, managers, supervisors, and reporting officers think they are being polite. What they really want to say is, “Someone told me the sign ups were low or non-existent” and “You had better attend”.
As an independent consultant, I no longer have to pass that message along or agree to it. Instead I attend or help shape the events I know are worth attending.
Event organizers and the people they work with sometimes forget what motivates or demotivates people. They must convince people to exchange their time and effort for what they have to offer.
If people are not interested, some organizers resort to frequent blasts of email and social media spam. Their partners (the ones who commissioned the organizers) send “strong encouragement” messages to their staff to attend whether they want to or not.
What results is forced attendance, waste of time, effort, and resources, and a perpetuation of very bad practice.
The organizers make a profit and/or get their name in lights, the partners think they have made a difference, but little, if any, changes on the ground.
When I am asked, I provide critical feedback to event organizers, particularly those who organize educational conferences or something similar.
The advice I provide for free is generic. The consultancy I provide for a fee is very specific, actionable, and worth every cent. Pay for it. I strongly encourage you to.