I have a very wise client that observed, after listening to comments at his team’s away day, that there was a beast in the room. He said the beast was mentioned by name “Well, The Company…”, “The Company set up this process…”, “The Company aren’t doing enough…”
The beast in the room was The Company.
People talk about their company as if it is a strange entity. Some rally against it, some are intimidated by it, many see it as a burden they must bear.
Few people look at their company as a vibrant community made up of people like them. In fact, it’s not people like them, it is them.
Not my job…
When I was working at a UK Broadcaster we had a security service that patrolled all our buildings at night. They’d started locking the small meeting rooms and they had the only key to open them.
One morning, a senior manager in my team complained that the rooms weren’t available for use until someone called security. He then looked me in the eye and said “Why doesn’t someone call them every morning when they come in?”
I told him he was welcome to do that. He shot back “I meant someone else.”
Oh, maybe someone from The Company …
The beast isn’t a management issue, its tentacles extend further. When you can’t be bothered to call maintenance though you’ve spotted a building problem, when you complain endlessly about something but never offer an alternative, when you ignore the client complaint because you hope it will go away – you become the beast.
Taking personal responsibility for helping your company run is a big step. Looking beyond your own remit, and committing to help make the whole company run better – that’s initiative that makes a difference.
I can’t hear you if you don’t speak
Then let people hear from you – up, out and down. People often blame The Company for things they think they can’t influence. You can think broader, recognize that someone in the company has made that decision, set up that process or policy and they can’t possibly know it isn’t working if you don’t tell them.
There is a great programme, on Channel 4 in the UK, called Undercover Boss. The CEO of some major corporation pops on a wig and sneaks in the back door to do the basic jobs in his organization. They are always surprised that people lack the resources, access, encouragement or the recognition they need.
As soon as they put themselves in their staff’s boots, they have clarity on what they can change and they accept advice from the front line staff. Those Undercover Bosses hear about the problems that “The Company” create and they fix them.
Inevitably, the boss is humbled by the things he didn’t know and impressed that his staff preserver in the face of major obstacles, well it is TV…
Shine the light
Each of us can bring the beast into the room and shine the light. If you think something can be done better, quicker, cheaper, safer, get that message to someone who can make that change.
Last week I had two coaching clients recognize that they could influence the culture in their department. In both cases they had new managers and in talking through the changes they saw occurring, they recognized the boss was trying to shift some of the old ways of doing things. They came up with different paths but both saw a way to support something more positive and productive in their team. It’s an empowering feeling.
What would you like to change? How can you get it started?
At the end of the day, we are the culture, the company and the future of our businesses. Only we can wrangle the beast.