♥ M E O W !
ship's cat | independent ። confidential ። informal ። designated neutral
A ship's cat for organizations
aka organizational ombudsperson
Light reading, external links:
At some point in an innovative company's growth and development, creating an Office of Ombuds becomes a very good idea. There's no recognized ideal metric for when that moment arrives. Could it be when your head count reaches 300 people, or 500 people? Is it when the employee to manager ratio exceeds 6 to 1? Does it arrive when you realize you need more than both hands to count up the personnel who serve in your HR department?
Some companies grow into very productive monoliths without ever considering an Office of Ombuds. They get along fine -- or do they? What is it like for their people? What is it like to work there? What's the human cost?
Startups and organizations who carry a torch for incubating a very particular mission, nurturing a highly curated culture, and encouraging the boundless talents of their people should really establish an Office of Ombuds sooner rather than later.
Here's how ombudsing works, as described from a very fabulous feline purrspective...
Ship's Catting aka Ombudsperson Services
(read "ship's cat" as ombuds, if you must)
A ship's cat helps everyone learn how to land on their feet. Resilience!
A ship's cat listens. What's impacting the quality of your work life? What might improve your experience of your job? Does your manager manage well? What would happen if you asked for what you need? Are you living the life of the person you want to be?
A ship's cat is independent. Yarrr be told, the cat is independent of the chain of command. A ship's cat exists separate from formal channels and organizational heirarchy. Kitty does not snitch to officers nor mateys (the executive suite!) nor their shoulder pets -- lookin' at you, tiny monkey & loud parrot (ethics, compliance, legal, & HR teams!). Likewise, manager-mateys and executive cabineers may speak freely with kitteh about the flotsam and jetsam that muddy their thoughts and weigh on their considerations. Talk to the cat.
A ship's cat keeps confidences (and uses pointy claws 'n teefs to shred conversation meeting notes with ease, as any true ombuds would do). A ship's cat definitely does not name names when compiling trend reports at a later time. All conversations are off-the-record.
A ship's cat is informal. In cases of workplace problems or violations, we jointly scratch up the wall (figuratively) and brainstorm courses of options. This cat has knowledge to outline how formal proceedings unfold on the ship, should a maltreated mariner consider involving formal channels via their manager or HR. The cat does not trigger nor participate in such proceedings. Kitty also has resources to propose relevant alternative options. Where possible, a ship's cat seeks ways to support and enable self-empowered resolution of conflicts.
A ship's cat is unofficial. Ship's cats do not initiate any official paw swats nor directly deliver admonishments of "bad hooman no no!!" to the named nemesis. Neither does the ship's cat engage in formal investigations nor make binding decisions.
A meowist ship's cat follows the way of meow. A meowist coaches without coaching at all and employs particular parley powers borne of the cat dimension, such as:
Asks strategic questions.
Clarifies complex situations.
Offers guidance as you craft a plan of follow through.
Coaches you through pawsible ruff conversations you might initiate in response to your very real conflict situations.
Helps you practice ways to carry difficult discussions that preserve everyone's dignity.
A ship's cat is patient. Sometimes the ship's crew who visit are anxious, very stressed, and perhaps A N G E R Y. There is no judgment, regardless of your situation or state.
A ship's cat is impartial and neutral. Ship's cats do not take sides. Kitty does not advocate on behalf of the individual. Kitty does not advocate on behalf of managers or the ship. Mariners are mariners, simple as that. Kitty guides all pawties toward fair outcomes.
A ship's cat is your vessel's stormy weather early-warning barometer. A ship's cat not only receives confidences from the crew (and mystery missives from the cat dimension), but also keeps watch in the dark and listens to the wind for pirates, scourges, and vermin. Ship's cats halps you to minimize the chance of getting taken by surprise. Discrimination? Harrassment? Bullying? Intercultural friction? Inappropriate behavior? An isolated hostile environment in an unsecured corner of the vessel? Perhaps an illegal happening? Or other daunting misconduct, however big or small? Hey, captain, you've invested so meowch in your crew -- don't let that excellent but unhappy shipshuman who is slowly-drowning-under-unmanageable-expectations-or-unsustainable-working-conditions jump ship. [[ Paws and think: When should a growing company establish an ombuds office? Certainly, a company of Uber's size could have / should have had an ombuds office. However, an ombuds office may not have helped to dampen Uber's scandalous upheaval, given its culture and values. A company must WANT to promote workplace vitality in its daily operations in order for an ombuds office to give benefit. ]]
A ship's cat witnesses last words. Whether a sailor is set to join another crew (seeking greater fortunes!) or is summarily made to walk the plank (eeep!), they are entitled to a final conversation with the cat and are encouraged to spill their top kerfuffles in a confidential exit interview.
A ship's cat stays conscious of the disruptive realm where sirens call, tempests swell, and superstitions creep. As well, a ship's cat understands the power of compounded momentum, context, and trust. Kitty purrsuades that momentum to be in the form healthy collaborative vessel culture, constructive professional development & personal empowerment, and instilled sense of accountability among crew. We are all responsible to elevate the shared potential.
A ship's cat stalks the vessel's shadowy holds, roves the sun-kissed deck, and climbs tall things. Your ship's cat takes time-outs among the booms and riggings of the topmast to consider the shape of its prowling grounds. This is a lofty, bird's-eye-worthy view. Here, trends appear. KITTER, ANALYSIS! (Kitters do great analysis.) From this, recommendations can be made, so that policies may be revised, discontent be abated, disgruntley breaches of morale be mended, micro-mutinies be defused, and afears be defeared.
A ship's cat acts as the ship's fair-weather charm and guide. The ship's cat shares insights to inform captain's choices so that cap' might redirect ship's navigation toward smoother seas and bounteous trade. How can we improve employee engagement and encourage a sense of investment toward a vibrant, openly-communicative workplace and community?
A ship's cat purrs. Purring invokes the engine of change. Beware what you purr for. Let it be intentional and whole.
I am Lauren Lau ♥ The Meowist, and I'm experienced in coaching people through clarifying their problems and empowering them with tools to resolve conflicts and miscommunications in meaningful ways. We touch upon self-sovereignty, as well as issues like confidence, purrrpose, stress management, and 'TeH FuTuRe' along the way. I work well with both centralized and distributed teams.
♥The Meowist has mastery in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and, separately, in Mediation and Conflict Resolution (meaning, I have certifications in both! and oodles of practical experience!). These skills are applied meowishly, with a modern perspective that's rooted in old daoist wisdom (click to read more).
Head over to my Meowdiation page for a taste of mediation tools that might be employed in ombuds ship's cat services.