Everyone has to change… Except for me because I’m the boss!
Everyone has to change… Except for me because I’m the boss!How many times have you heard a boss say “you’ve got to change ______” (fill in the blank), and when he or she tells you what they expect, it’s something that they themselves are guilty of. In my experience as a corporate trainer for over thirty years in numerous organizations, I have heard these same concerns expressed by participants over and over:
- “I wish my boss was here. He/she really needs to take this.”
- “This is really great stuff. I only wish I could do it back on the job. My boss has to ‘approve’ everything.”
- “If only my boss would let me do this.”
- “I like my job and the people that I work with; it’s just that my boss is ______________.”
What always left me puzzled was that there were numerous occasions when I would meet the “boss” and they would make similar comments about their employees. I can’t count the number of times when a senior manager would meet with me to discuss the issues they were experiencing in their organization. They typically expressed things like:
- "our team has poor communications"
- "team members don't get along"
- “people don’t handle conflict well”
- “our situation is ‘unique’”
- “our industry is ‘different’”
- “some people have ‘difficult’ personalities”
- “we have ‘personality conflicts’”
- “we have some ‘problem-people’”
- “people won’t cooperate with one another”
- “people have difficulties working together”
- “these people just don’t ‘get’ it”
- “they’re just not motivated and I don’t know how to motivate them
”Physician Heal Thyself…
Then, after making these statements they want me to design or customize a “program” especially suited to their specific needs and issues that will “fix” these problems in their people. However, they don’t want to participate in the program themselves. They’ll send their employees to classes to learn improved communications skills and won’t attend the classes themselves. Think about that! Where is it better to learn to improve communications than in a class designed to acquire and develop communications skills and techniques? They’ll say that they don’t want the employees to feel “uncomfortable” because the managers are in the room. If that’s the case there is a real problem in the organization. However, it’s most likely with the leadership and not the employees.
The time has come to get rid of this organizational segregation and level-conscious discrimination! If organizational leaders want to improve the effectiveness of their organizations, employee morale, and engagement, they’ve got to be willing to let go of some of the behaviors that are perpetuating the problem. If leaders want high performing teams, they need to be a part of that team and allow the winning, high performance behaviors to emerge within the group. That starts with communicating at the same level. For some reason, if the leaders don’t think that it’s necessary for them to also change, there’s an old adage that goes; “If you keep on doing what you’ve always been doing you’re going to keep on getting what you’ve always been getting.”
What typically happens is that the organization makes a huge investment into the “change initiatives;” however, nothing changes and the leaders “blame” the training for “not working” and seek another “training” solution -- or as it’s commonly called; “The ‘flavor’ of the month.” Common responses are things like, “We tried that… it didn’t work, so we’re looking for a ‘better’ course” or continue on with one of the above statements or something similar. Organizations invest thousands of dollars in these strategic initiatives, and continually “reinvent the wheel” as they move from one “program” to another. They may see some “pockets” of change within the organization. However, there’s often a major communications and organizational effectiveness disconnect.
Commander vs. Coach
Typically these leaders are stuck in a command and control mindset. There’s a common graphic that’s been making the rounds on the internet over the last few years, and the source of the quote is Harry Gordon Selfridge, who was the founder of the London-based department store Selfridges. I think it makes the point very well.
This simple graphic identifies the critical components needed by every leader in any organization. It’s a common, no-nonsense approach to leadership that applies to any enterprise, ranging from a small business to a multi-million-dollar corporation. If you’re a leader in an organization, a manager or a small business owner and the way you manage your people is by doing any of the things on the left side of the chart -- or maybe you’re thinking to yourself that is the “right” way to be a boss -- if you want real change to occur in your business or organization, then where the change is needed most is with you and your behavior. The time is gone where the boss gives the orders and the employees follow them. In the 21st Century, leaders need to motivate and inspire the members of their staff. It may be necessary for managers and owners to develop improved communications skills, listening skills, assertiveness skills, conflict management skills, etc. The people who need to be in these classes are the leaders first and then the staff members. Change management initiatives can be successful… however, that’s only when the person at the top – the leader is open to the feedback and willing to change themselves the most. Once they can shift their own mindset, then and only then, can the needed change in the organization occur.
Reference: Selfridge, Harry Gordon, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Gordon_Selfridge Updated: 11/26/13
Note: If anyone knows the source of the referenced graphic, please let me know. I’d really like to assign credit to the originator.
Update 11/26/13: Special thanks to Charles A. Pennison for providing the source of the quote by Harry Gordon Selfridge.
Mary Anne Kochut is the Managing Director of Champions for Success. She has trained and coached employees and managers for 30 years. She is the author of the new book, Power vs Perception; Ten Characteristics of Self-Empowerment for Women. To book Mary Anne as a speaker, engage her as a trainer or coach, or purchase a copy of her book, visit: www.Championsforsuccess.net