Remember Nokia? I had a couple of their mobile phones once upon a time. One of my favourite phones, in fact. It was small, sleek, silver. Easy to carry. Easy to use. And stylish. It was perfect until…smartphones came on the scene. Why do I tell you this?

The CEO of Nokia in May admitted defeat saying, ’we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost’. Why? New ways of doing things; the fickleness of human nature – we like something one minute, we dislike it the next; and then…some not so clever decisions. Is there something to be learnt here? How is this related to mental health at work?

Well, while Nokia may claim to be innocent and a victim of circumstances, is it accurate to say that ‘we didn’t do anything wrong’? Let’s have a look.

Undoubtedly, Nokia was big. Had tremendous resources. It also had a problem many organisations share – they get complacent. Here are some comments people have made as to what went wrong (and see how that matches against some poor approaches to mental health in workplaces):

‘They were reactive instead of responsive’. A common mistake in mental health too. Companies wait till there is a crisis, then they act – IF they act. Often the attitude continues to be, ‘let’s wait and see’.

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“They thought ‘We are Nokia – we have all the engineering know-how in-house we don’t need developers”. This is another common one. The education of staff on mental health issues is carried out in-house. There are some problems with this approach – can you think of some? Too often this work is delegated to someone that hasn’t got the expertise but likes the topic as a ‘hobby’. And even if the expertise is there, is that their job? Usually people have full time jobs and training is added onto their busy schedule, making the mental health training program unlikely to succeed.

“They didn’t try anything new.” In mental health, if what you do isn’t working, you have to try something new. Some organisations have tried one thing – a mental health morning tea, or a couple of posters, and didn’t get the result they wanted. It might have been a great initiative for a little while, but soon everyone forgot about it and went back to business as usual.

“They failed Deliver with Speed and Simplicity”. Too often leadership teams lack an understanding of what is needed in mental health and wait to have all the information. When this is lacking, either the decision is delayed, with negative results for the business and the bottom line, or; the job is given to some ‘big’ mental health organisation as a means to shift the responsibility onto them (we tried…we gave it to ‘what’s-its-name’). The good news – you don’t need all the data to make decisions – just enough to see the benefits. A sense of urgency is important to get the results.

So, what do we learn from Nokia? Don’t be like Nokia. Learn, innovate and take action. Call me and let’s have a chat.

Have a mentally healthy day!

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter-Diaz-AuthorPeter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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