Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Knowing Right and Doing Right

A training company - I’ll call it XYZ - teaches management and leadership skills. On their website, they advertise courses that show how to create organizational success by improving relationships through positive communication, teamwork, stress management, and the ABC’s of supervision.

Yet in one year they had a staff turnover of over 50%. People who left said they were not supported and mistakes were brought up at weekly meetings where a leader criticized and ridiculed them. It was the star performers who left first, leaving behind staff whose confidence had been shattered by the barrage of constant criticism. Some stayed due to the belief that they weren't good enough to find anything else.

The staff that stayed had to carry on in an environment that felt uncertain, and continue in roles that had accountability with limited personal control. Sick days increased and productivity was at an all time low. Key clients followed the star trainers. XYZ Company discounted their training programs to keep and attract new customers. Profits suffered.

Not surprisingly, there was difficulty getting the ‘right’ people to come on board or even apply for the positions that needed to be filled, in spite of the stagnant job market. Word got around that this was a company with huge challenges, little appreciation, and no guarantee of job security.

Trust was non-existent.

Knowing the right thing to do isn't the same as doing the right thing.

Trust is the willingness to be open and vulnerable based on your belief that there will be positive behavior from the other person. In a trusted environment, people are encouraged to open up without negative repercussions. Was the XYZ leader trusted? I think you know the answer.

Rebuilding trust in this organization is a big task, but fortunately they have started to turn things around. Here is what they are doing:
  1. The most significant change was getting the right people in positions of authority. Just because someone has technical skills doesn't mean they can run an organization or lead staff. The bullying boss left and was replaced by someone with better leadership skills.
  2. They brought back the people who had the original vision of what the company stood for.
  3. There is more congruence between what they say and what they do. As an organization that teaches management skills, they are incorporating what they teach into how they operate.
  4. Weekly meetings are used to facilitate and communicate information. Respectful communication is practiced. Accolades are shared; criticisms are now private.
Rebuilding trust is possible, but it takes a clear blueprint and determination.

The consequence of not rebuilding trust is working in a shattered structure with occasional glimpses of the glory of what could have been.

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