With less than two months left in the year, I'm sure many of you are looking ahead to 2017 to see what you can do to improve your company's sales, overall productivity and get the best out of your direct reports in the coming year. If you are serious about these goals, then most likely, you are going to have to dismantle the current culture of your division or your company.
CREATING AN HONEST CULTURE
Whenever I walk into a company to coach, I find that next to no one is speaking the whole truth and nothing but. Think about your company. Do your people tell you the truth? When was the last time a direct report told you, for example, that your micromanaging and not trusting them doesn't work for them or that it's not okay to keep rescheduling your one-on-one's with them? Or that they were upset by the way you were condescending or sarcastic about their shortcomings?
I bet the answer is far from a resounding YES. No?
Unfortunately, what people don't realize is that telling the truth builds self-confidence. It clears things up so you can move on to more significant accomplishments. And at the most basic level, telling the truth shows courage, leadership and authenticity. What is the alternative? Hiding, gossiping, and being a coward? Not very powerful choices. And not very conducive for a productive, successful work environment.
TELLING THE TRUTH STARTS AT THE TOP
Ok, let's start with you.
Ask yourself, are you really telling the truth? When was the last time you said to one of your direct reports, "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 more than likely walk around thinking that the way you lead works. And in some instances, maybe most, it does. But have you created an atmosphere in your division or company 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 two-facedness going on. But isn't that like building a house and trying to skip over dealing with the plumbing?
How about in 2017, if you want to impact the culture of your company, you pipe up and deal?
How do you get the best out of your people if they can't tell the truth? How do you expect to get the best out of your direct reports when you know there are wars going on between them? I have never been to an office, large or small, where there wasn't a lot of avoiding the truth, hiding from it, and from one another.
I promise, you want your team to be brave and come to you and tell you what doesn't work about your leadership or your office. Who and how you want your people to behave starts with you.
Take the first step. Recreate the culture in your office, turning it into a partnership that allows for the truth. From that foundation of honesty and openness, you can clear out all the debri that gets in the way of accomplishing great things, together. There will be better communication, a more efficient and creative working environment, and happier employees, all of which have an indirect but significant impact on a company's bottom line.