Archive for the 'Leadership communication' Category

Who would admit to having no integrity?

How many of you have come across organisations where one of the company values or leadership values is integrity?

And even if you haven’t explicitly seen this as a value, would you agree that it is often an unstated principle that people will act with integrity?

So how can it be that criticism often comes when the organisation or the leaders within it appear to lack integrity. Do people go out of their way to act without integrity or does conflict occur when one persons version of integrity is different to another?

A couple of definitions of integrity may help to answer this question…………

Integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions
or
The adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

With these definitions it seems that the interpretation of integrity is therefore dependent on each persons map of the world, their own values and their own moral compass. Therefore, when someone is seen to act without integrity, have they really or is it that our version of integrity doesn’t match theirs?

Let’s take as an example the recent actions of Greg Smith, the guy who distributed his view of the Goldman Sachs culture and leadership. Did he or did he not act with integrity? I suspect that some people would say that he absolutely did, that he was honest, truthful and accurate (see definition) whilst others may question his reasons for doing it and question his moral character.

When integrity is so often a characteristic that is highlighted as essential for leaders I question if this is realistic. Surely it means that we must all operate with the same version of what is right and wrong, the same version of what is morally acceptable, the same version of what honesty is.

I wonder therefore, when integrity is put up as a value or principle and when it is seen as an essential part of leadership what is actually meant? Obviously organisations want people to act within a moral framework that is appropriate for that particular organisation, does this need to be defined more clearly so people understand what integrity means in that particular environment? Is acting with integrity the same in every organisation or might it vary if say you work in the tobacco industry, the armed forces, social services, financial services or retail?

It seems that organisations need to dig deeper to interpret integrity more clearly. What thoughts do you have on whether or not integrity can vary and how it can be defined more clearly in different organisations?

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Creating trust in the workplace

Recent events in Australian politics have touched, or should I say ploughed, in to an area of leadership and team performance that I think is at the heart of teams failing or excelling. I’ve been watching the moves and words that have been used by the politicians and wondering how trust can be rebuilt at all levels – within the Labour party and also with the public.

Rather than this being a political statement I’d like to focus on what creates or destroys trust and the impact it has on a leader and their teams effectiveness.

As I mentioned in a previous blog we all believe ourselves to be trustworthy. This goes with believing we’re honest, candid and behave in a way that is appropriate. So if this is the case how can trust break down?

I think there are a few behaviours that are needed for trust to be created.

1. Words and actions need to be congruent and consistent – as soon as there is a discrepancy in what is said and done then trust begins to erode

2. There needs to be a basis of respect that emanates through the words and actions. In other words there needs to be a level of acknowledgment of each persons contribution and position

3. Where conflict occurs focus on the issue – find ways to listen to opposing views and address the issue rather than attack the person

One of the most important aspects of building or destroying trust are the symbolic acts that are seen by others. In politics we see many symbols of things being done where trust is eroded. I’m not sure we see many acts that build trust as these symbolic acts often lack authenticity.

Taking this in to an organisational environment there is much that we can learn from watching the politicians. Unfortunately it would seem we can learn more about what not to do rather than what to do. I’d therefore be taking the experience of the last few weeks to question what behaviours leaders can develop and teams use to build trust.

And may be – having observed the politicians you have ideas on things that have happened recently that have built trust. I’d be interested to hear about what you’ve seen.

Using dollars wisely during onboarding

Whether you are a leader, a recruiter or an HR Manager it no doubt crosses your mind on a fairly regular basis that bringing people in to the organisation and bringing them to an appropriate level of performance is time consuming, energy zapping and costly. The upside of doing it is that a vital gap will be filled and a job will be done, so at some point your investment in time and energy will be repaid. The downside is that you invest and it doesn’t work out. A recent global study on mindset of new and existing employees by RogenSi shows that you have only a limited time to get payback.

The study found that employees with more than one year’s service with an organisation are feeling unenthusiastic, under-appreciated, uninspired and unmotivated by their leaders. Therefore in the first year you need to be doing everything you can to motivate, inspire and grow employees so they perform in year one and beyond. There is only a short window to consolidate new employees’ commitment and align them with the organisations’ culture and vision.

If you add to this a picture of the real cost of hiring someone – adding in recruitment costs, admin, training, management time and their salary; the cost of getting this right for every single employee should be a business priority.

The maths are indisputable and the opportunity to create commitment and alignment is limited – yet so many organisations seem to kick own goals once a new employee is on board.

Own goal number one is the handling of an employees induction process. Hands up to all of you who have started with a new organisation and had a less than enthusiastic welcome in some shape or form? This could be down to the process for getting your pass, a desk, directions to the toilet. Or it could be the often tedious process that you are taken through to learn about the organisation – for many this is usually the mandatory Induction training that comes anywhere between day 1 and day 365 of being in your role.

This is a golden opportunity – the penalty kick with no goalkeeper in the net – when the organisation has the chance to bring the new employee in to the organisation, live the values, display the culture and make the links to the goals, direction and what the organisation is all about. It’s a chance to reach the employees hearts.

And yet, so often, this opportunity is missed. On-boarding and Induction becomes an insipid and cold experience that leaves the new employees enthusiasm fading.

Given the cost to the business of recruiting and then losing your employees, surely a small investment in a makeover of your on-boarding and induction could reap big rewards?

Newsletters make the world go round

In my meanderings through organisations of all shapes and sizes that are going through change, I hear many an Executive and consultant quote the stats about the importance of communication during change and how it’s one of the main factors that creates successful transformation. I’m encouraged by what seems to be an enthusiasm to focus on getting the communication right and then so often something happens and the focus shifts on to something else and there is a sense that communication is done. This often happens when the newsletter is up and running. It is this point when I want to cry, pull my hair out or hit my head against a brick wall.

Surely there is more to effective communication than the newsletter? Yet it often becomes the thing that takes a huge amount of time and energy and is used as the gauge for whether or not communication is happening. Think of the number of change projects that have a regular deliverable to tick off the list when the newsletter is done.

It seems to me that so often something significant is being missed. Whilst I totally endorse the use of newsletters/ emails/ intranet updates etc as a way to get information out about the change, this is only one layer of the communication required when an organisation is going through complex change.

I want to see more emphasis on:
– Interpersonal communication – give the manager the skills to communicate
– Using mechanisms to engage staff in the present and the future
– Stakeholder relationships

I know that there will be nods across the world to my statements here, from Executives, Project Managers and Communication professionals. We know what will really work so how come I’m left pulling my hair out when budgets are cut, the focus shifts and the effort required for fantastic dialogue dissipates?

Any thoughts on answers to this question, disagreements with my thinking or sharing of similar frustrations are welcome.

Listening to Winston Churchill

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”
Winston Churchill

I love this quote from Winston Churchill as it seems to me that so many people find it difficult to listen, really listen. No doubt you have heard and understand that communicating involves so much more than words, yet how often do you or those around you put more effort in to speaking than listening?

Over the years I have been criticised by people I’ve worked with, for being too quiet in meetings, comments have followed along the lines of……”If you want to be a leader in this organisation you need to speak up more and stamp your mark” Even as a relatively new manager many years ago I wondered about this. Now, with years of maturity and experience on my side I actually quite enjoy it when I hear these comments as I recognise that this isn’t about me but about the person making the statement. It usually comes from someone who doesn’t have the courage “to sit down and listen.”

In the workplace (and out of it) we all come across people who are:
– The broadcaster – the ones who have to take centre stage and get their point across loudly and regularly
– The external thinker – who want to say what’s on their mind in any situation
– The uncomfortable with silencer – who fills the space when there is any kind of silence

With these people I would question how much listening and observing they are doing with the recipients of the communication.

There are also people who are:
– Great at listening and observing and then can use all the information they have gathered to take a discussion forward
– There are the listeners who create a space for others to say what they need to say
– The questioners who listen to what is being said and use questions well to reach further understanding, direction, to show empathy and to reach decisions

In any working situation it can be appropriate to have people in a discussion who can take up any of these roles as they all have a purpose. For communication to be effective it may be that sometimes the more avid talkers need to have courage to sit down and listen and those who prefer to listen and observe have courage to stand up and speak.

What ever your preferred style – now may be the time to try out something new and see how well your working relationships grow.