“Healthy Organization” Foundation #1: Leadership.
I’ve been having a running conversation with the HR Manager for a medium-size company with 100 employees for the last two months. The conversation started with the “need” for coaching for two senior-level managers that report directly to the CEO. (The business is family-owned and one of the managers is the son of the CEO. The other manager, although unrelated, has literally grown up in the business over the last 2 decades and has no other professional work experience.) Both managers are exhibiting behaviors that are unprofessional, demean their employees and cause customers to question their relationship with the company. The threat of losing business because of these two is very real.
The HR Manager suggested the bad actors needed “some help”. She, and others, have been pointing out the negative impact of their behaviors on those around them and was now wondering if “coaching” might be in order. Once we got into it, I asked, “What has been done with these individuals to bring about a change in behavior?” That was followed by, “What has their boss, the CEO, done to address these issues?” The answer, sadly, was “nothing”, which led us to the topic of what will bring about needed change in this situation that so obviously cries out for it.
“Change” is the hardest thing we do as individuals or as organizations. Old habits are hard to break for individuals and studies have shown that upwards of 80% of change initiatives that organizations launch either fail outright or never achieve the potential gains that were the premise for starting them.
After discussing the more global issues within the company that were keeping the HR Manager from succeeding in behavior modification, I suggested they needed either “revelation” or “revolution”. If the CEO, from the top of the organization, can’t/won’t see the need for change (revelation) then revolution is the only course if she was committed to bringing about change. I’m not talking about guns and blood running in the streets but a movement from the ranks pointing out the need for change and pushing for it. It takes longer and a concerted effort but the only alternative is to decide you’ll live with the status quo. Actually, everyone has the alternative available to anyone in a company: they can leave for greener pastures but that has huge organizational costs. “Revelation” is best but “revolution” is better than surrender.