Pat Lencioni, in his book The Advantage: Why Organisation Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, makes an undeniable case that organisational health surpasses all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and gives organisations a truly competitive edge. He writes about four actionable steps in achieving long-term, sustainable success. And he has continuous and repeated success in this area, so it really works.
BUT, and yes there is a BIG LOUD BUT…… It requires a courageous leadership team who are willing to invest not only money, but also and especially time and effort into making this a reality. It requires leaders who are humble, and willing to roll up their sleeves and muck in. It requires leaders who are in it for the long haul.
For many years I have done, talks, training events and facilitated teams to bring change and to help them be better and more productive. To be honest sometimes I have got despondent and even wondered if I was getting anywhere. I love what I do and one of my core values is Making a Difference which is why it’s discouraging when sometimes I would walk away from a team event knowing that Monday morning they would all go back to “same as usual”. Not because they aren’t a great team, but because they are doing this on their own and have no outside support.
The dangerous thing about knowledge is without clear action it causes people to become cynical. People get all excited and get vision for where they are going and hope is raised for change and when very soon things go back to “normal”, those people will deal with the disappointment and guard themselves against it, when the next training event comes along. No wonder disengagement is close to 70% according to Gallup research.
Staff are dissatisfied and disengaged. Leaders are frustrated and overwhelmed with how to fix it. And lets face it, rightly so, because one of most leaders biggest constraints is time. And yes I get that taking time out to do the work for 2 days offsite feels nuts, and working on what can often feel unmeasurable is risky, but I see so many organisations never reaching their full potential while haemorrhaging great people because of politic’s and other cultural and behavioural issues. Unfortunately (fortunately for them) healthy people don’t stay at unhealthy or toxic companies. Can you really not address this? Do you really not have time for this?
In the past I have tried to squeeze as many tools in to once off “miracle sessions” and I have worked with some great teams, and yes we have had some traction, but often I have the sinking suspicion that the all that work only creates awareness and gives them some great knowledge, but I leave and they step back into the fray and it’s like trying to hold on to an open umbrella in a hurricane…. before long they are swept back in to the day to day stuff and all those great ideas and plans become an accusing pointy finger of all the things we never get round to doing. And so nothing changes and people become more and more disillusioned.
The thing is our brains don’t even get change that fast. When we learn a new habit, it takes conscience effort to learn the new skill or activity and lots of repetition before it becomes a way of life. We literally have to create a new pathway in our brain. This takes time and intentionality.
Why do we expect new skills and activities to be any different at work. It’s an infinite game. We have to take the long view and sometimes it takes going back to the beginning to make sure we understand why we are doing all of this in the first place. And then find out what is most important and then make sure we equip our organisation to make it happen. This takes intentionality, courage and time. And it helps if you have someone who is objective to guide you through it and who has a map to navigate you to the other side safely.
If you are one of those “bold muck in” leaders and some of this spoke to you, I would love to buy you a coffee and hear some of what frustrates you. I think I have some exciting solutions for you. Click here to book that coffee.