Difficult Conversations, Ethics, Leadership, Reflective practice, Thinking differently

Your Organisation is Drifting. And You’ve Got No Idea.

New year new you!

Or something similar.

It’s natural to strive for better. You look at the previous year, note your accomplishments (high engagement score ranking – tick!) and want to build on that momentum.

What you often don’t see when you’re constantly engaging with the people within your organisation that are high performers and those that are close to you, is the organisational drift happening under the surface. You’re focusing on big changes, becoming bigger and better than the year before, all the while not realising that something insidious is eating away at the fabric of your organisation.

People may have brought individual issues up before. Some big. Some not so much. Isolated they don’t look like a pattern. Because you’re surrounded with those who are super engaged and likely are very focused on their own areas of expertise they also don’t see the cumulative nature of what’s happening.

But I guarantee your employees do.

They notice the few instances of people ‘moving on’ under cloudy circumstances with unclear communications.

They notice the difference between decisions made by management and the values of your organisation.

They notice their friends and high performers choosing to opt out after having realised that this isn’t the place with the great culture/opportunity/leadership it once was.

They see people being appointed to roles who don’t care about their teams.

They see snarky emails/veiled threats being thrown about with no consequence.

Do they bring it to you?

Probably not.

They’ve probably already made their decision. They’re out. They’re still smiling and saying the right things when you ask them, but they’re scouring LinkedIn and job boards looking for their next opportunity. They’re responding honestly when someone asks what it’s like to work for you. They’re moving to your competitors.

All of a sudden it happens. You realise that you’re no longer ahead of the game. You ignored too many warning signs. Conveniently chose to listen to those who told you what you wanted to hear, not those who would challenge you and tell you what you needed to hear.

Many organisations go down this path. Some parts of it are beyond your control. Some are well within it.

So instead of thinking of the new year as one to build on the previous – maybe take some time to reflect, engage in continuous learning practices and ‘get under the hood’. You may not like what you find, but at least you have an opportunity to fix it if you do come across something.

Ethics

Ethics in the Workplace & Unintended Consequences

Recently I read a really powerful article by HRTC founder Vanessa Wiltshire about difficulties she has had in her career, particularly in regard to ethical practices in the workplace and the huge emotional toll that can take on staff.

We can all generally agree that;
Ethical behaviour = good
Making profit = good
Ethical behaviour + making profit = better.

But when one has to be sacrificed in times of trouble (of which there are a lot, in the private, public and NFP sector) it is so often the ethical behaviour that goes. It doesn’t happen like a switch, usually a series of decisions are made that cumulatively end up with people doing things in the workplace where their personal moral and ethical judgement is compromised.

And so often, the result of this is the creation of workplaces where borderline practices become commonplace, bullying becomes the norm, and the bottom line is championed above all else.

Don’t get me wrong, the bottom line (or if you’re progressive, the triple bottom line) is crucial. But the culture that you instil in the workplace through the unintended consequences of series of decisions can be mammoth.

For an organisation to engage its people, learn and build for the future, a great culture is a requirement. As a business leader said to me the other day, some businesses have an excellent money-making model, but if the people aren’t happy and the culture is a bit *^#$ then future growth and success are finite. Because the good people will leave. And its those people who are your greatest asset, no matter your business.