You say you want to get the best out of the folks who work for you — OK, if you really do, then most likely, you are going to have to dismantle the current culture of your division or your company. Unless, of course, your culture is one where people deal with and say the truth all the time….which I have yet to find in X years of coaching!
How can you know if your office culture is based upon people telling the truth? Well, do your people tell YOU the truth? When was the last time someone who works for you told you: your micromanaging and not trusting me doesn’t work for me? Or when was the last time someone told you is was NOT okay that you keep rescheduling your one-on-one’s with them? Or that they were upset by the way you were being condescending or sarcastic about their shortcomings?
People aren’t telling you the truth. They’re not telling you the truth because they’re scared. They’re scared that they’ll get fired, or that they’ll “turn you against them,” or that you’ll “think they’re weak.” They haven’t been taught how to speak the truth in a respectful but honest way, a way that would actually help you improve your leadership. But are you really telling the truth yourself? When was the last time you said, “I know I’m mean from time to time and that doesn’t lead to us having the most open, productive work environment, and I’m working on fixing that.” In fact, you walk around thinking that the way you lead WORKS. And in some instances — maybe most — it does, but have you created an atmosphere where telling the truth is allowed? Do YOU deal publicly with your bad traits? I bet that in the culture of your company no one is addressing the ugly stuff — the rumors, the cliques, the fears people have. There’s way too much niceness and fakeness going on, which doesn’t work because then you are all trying to hide the nasty and make believe that you are actually working on it, which we all know isn’t happening.
How do you get the best out of your folks if they can’t tell the truth? How do you expect to get the best out of folks when you know there are wars going on between folks on you team, and you don’t deal and face them? Handel Group has never been to an office, small or large, where there wasn’t a lot of avoiding the truth, hiding from it, and from one other. So if you want to impact the culture, to clear out the ugly, then you have to start with YOU. For instance, if I’m the boss and I tell you that I know I can be mean and I’m sorry, that starts to alter the culture (as opposed to just thinking that person deserved your wrath.)
I promise you, you want people to be brave and come to you and tell you what doesn’t work about your leadership, YOUR office — because they WANT to work for you, they want to give you their best — then you want them telling the truth. To you and to one another. And it starts with you, being brave and open. You have to recreate the culture, turning it into a partnership that allows for the truth. From that foundation of honesty and openness, you can clear out lots of debris that gets in the way of accomplishing great things, together.
It’s not easy. But you’d rather this than your people going underground to complain about you. I promise you, if you do this, your team will be the most effective it’s ever been. Telling the truth works!