Dr Jayanie Kodituwakku PHD
Edited from original article posted here.
If you had a bad smell manifest itself in your kitchen would you a) leave it, b) spray room spray to hide the smell or c) I’m guessing the majority of us would like to understand what the cause was and take actions to resolve it before the smell got worse.
I found that in certain larger corporations the bad smell would get bigger and bigger and permeate throughout the organisation, often it would be ignored. What do I mean? I once worked for a global firm, it was hugely profitable generating billions of revenues worldwide. The Regional Head of Finance was feared amongst their team and frequently unprofessional with both peers and senior colleagues in meetings. Teams reporting to the Head were miserable as they had to keep up with unrealistic demands and hence a toxic environment was created whereby people just shouted at each other. As this individual was ‘too scary to deal with’ what happened? Nothing, no one said a word. On the surface the individual was doing their job and the Board had no clue what was really going on. As a result talented people reporting under the Head started to become demotivated, the odd person left, people were scared to come into work. If the team was being led by a leader who inspired them I wonder how much more productive the regional unit of that company would have been. This is not a unique case. We can all understand why such behaviors happen but does that mean we should just ignore it? Behaviours do not miraculously change without some sort of intervention. They can get worse, they eventually become tolerated and reverberate across an organization creating an unhealthy dynamic. Let’s not be afraid to lead, challenge and speak up, it may take courage but you might just be saving your firm in the long run. You are a leader, whether you are a fresh graduate, an intern or a Managing Director.
Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person - not just an employee - are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.
Real transformational change is created by focusing on the people within an organisation:
How happy are my team and peers? If they stressed and frantic over meeting a deadline, chances are they will be ineffective and not deliver as they could if they were not panicking.
2) Connection and interaction
Do I take time out to ask people in my team how they are and make an effort to follow up when they need support? I’m not just talking about a check in at performance reviews. I used to know a Senior Manager in charge of a team of up to 50 people. He would walk the floor once a week, just as a parade and his staff knew it – ‘he asks me how I am but doesn’t really care that I am stressed out!’.
Do my team work effectively with other teams or do they tend to work in silos? I’ve observed when teams tend to work better with each other they work better with external partners and clients as well.
Although the tides are changing, a lot of corporate leaders I’ve come across see some of the following as the ‘soft skills’ in business and oversee the link between these and hard metrics. Sometimes these fundamental elements are forgotten, they are too sensitive to address or not even recognized:
- ‘Building trust’
- ‘Take responsibility for failings’
- ‘Encourage synergistic collaboration’
- ‘Caring for individuals’
- ‘Encourage creativity’
- ‘Reduce stress’
- ‘Encourage innate wellbeing’
These are the ‘hard business skills’ and we cannot ignore them just because they may not be easy to quantify or qualify. We don’t need to measure trust in order to acknowledge how it substantially impacts our transactions with business partners and customers.
Where do you see yourself creating REAL transformational change?
Jayanie is a former PriceWaterhouseCoopers Management Consultant, turned Innovator, Business Advisor and Coach who shows leaders the unexpected keys to Insight; the ultimate leverage point for creating a thriving organisation, team and life. She can be contacted via http://www.jayanie.com/.