We know this, we have seen the quotes right! How, as leaders, do we change this?
Here are my thoughts/tips/ideas – Leader to leader, manager to manager – from one who has lived, and learned on my own journey.
In a survey of 2,000 employees, almost half (43%) said they are looking for a new job, and corporate culture was the main reason.
Corporate culture is absolutely everyone’s responsibility uphold, but it is driven by the leaders, and good communication is at the core of good corporate culture.
Let’s get visual for a moment because I think in pictures:
Imagine a lovely pool of clean water, full of healthy fish and water life, and leading into this pool is a spring that comes from the hills above, this spring feeds the pool at the bottom.
What happens when that spring starts being contaminated with dirt, animal waste, chemicals etc?
Well, that is obvious, the pool becomes toxic, the life that was in there starts to either get sick, or die, the pool is dirty and full of poison and the ONLY way to fix it is to look at what is feeding into the pool.
What I see a lot of, is leaders and managers wanting their people to have better communication skills, they want the team ‘fixed’ but are at times unwilling to look at the ‘spring’ coming in from the top, it may not be them directly it may be above them, it doesn’t matter, the people in the team will just tar ‘management’ with the same brush.
The way we speak to others, the way we treat others, the way we value others, the vibe we bring are all part of the work place culture picture.
The impact of not being truthful.
Leaders may not see anything wrong with telling the odd lie or bending the truth. They may think they are protecting people from the ‘scary facts’, they may think they are helping the team stay focused on the job, keeping moral up, and a number of other reasons for ‘bending the truth’ but here’s the BAD news!
When leaders don’t tell the truth it can:
- Lead to unrest, people make up their own versions of the truth with the bits they do know
- Lead to lack of trust, people become more distracted because they don’t know for sure
- Lead to lack of respect, people think the leader doesn’t respect them enough or think they are smart enough to tell them the truth
- Erode any good culture that there might have been
People know they are lying, they know they are bending the truth, they know they are not telling them what is really going on!
When this is happening, despite the intentions, people will stop trusting their leader/manager and they will stop listening.
One of the tell-tale signs that a leader are out of integrity is, there is a mismatch between what they say and what they do.
This causes lack of trust, which leads to lack of engagement, which leads to lack of productivity and loyalty!
The GOOD news – you can win back trust if it has been broken, people can make a decision to trust, or not, in the blink of an eye.
My tips for managers and leaders when they are struggling with the symptoms of a poor work culture:
- Tell the truth with compassion and consideration of the impact – use the delivery method that is most appropriate to what is needing to be said.
Even if you don’t have all the facts, tell them what you know or tell them you don’t know but you will find out what you can tell them, and then follow through.
- Line up your actions with your words – if you can’t deliver don’t say you can
If you are going to tell them you will get some information and get back to them, do it. Don’t leave people hanging on false promises. Be careful what you promise people, make sure you can deliver what you tell them you can.
- Be vulnerable first – show your human side, this is a STRENGTH
I am not talking about baring all, talking about your personal life at length etc, I am talking about being authentic, real and in the trenches ‘with’ your team, this even relates to admitting when you don’t know something. Vulnerability can be shown so many ways and still keep relationships professional
- Be prepared to get in the trenches with your team
Muck in, get back in touch, even if you have been where they have in the past, they may have forgotten this or not seen it for a while or at all, be prepared to work where they are, do what they do. Get along side them, value their input, views and opinions.
Final thoughts on culture:
- Be open as a leader to lifelong learning, and open to learning from your team members as much as through courses, books and other leaders
- Learn to communicate well, be prepared to be uncomfortable and vulnerable
- Lead the cultural change, put time, energy and resources into it. When workplaces have great cultures that are intentionally nurtured, people stay, people perform at their very best and drive projects and outcomes.
If you want to find out where you currently sit with your own communication skills as a leader, take my 5 min ‘communication skills assessment’ here online.
It is a great benchmark for understanding where your skills are great and where they may need improvement.
** If you are a team member wanting to find out where your skills are at take the assessment for professionals here