So, one of my business associate and I were recently asked by the CEO and CFO of a company to help them change their corporate culture. Naturally, we were thrilled to get this kind of request from the top guns of this company. I was raised as a young girl with the saying ” if the top of the stream is dirty, it stands the bottom will be too”. As part of our environmental scan we were told rather candidly that the work we will do in this company will be met by huge resistance-from the leaders:directors, managers and supervisors. We weren’t surprised at all about this. If we were told the opposite- that the leaders would welcome the change with open arms- we would be pleasantly surprised.
Over the past 25 years of working with workplace families and their external families I have come to know the saying I grew up with mentioned earlier- is very true and very real. Though most if not all societies, tend to separate the titled employees: directors, presidents, CEOs etc. from the untitled front line workers- it is rather uncanny how much the titled truly need the untitled. It is even more uncanny to notice how many of these titled employees tend to deskill and destroy the natural creativity and potential that is in all new employees. Even more eyebrow raising is how many of these bright new hires quickly end up being drones or clones of a stereotype of who they should be at work.
Let’s face it, “how you do anything is how you do everything” This is one of my favourite reminders from the colourful T.Harv Eker . If your management style at home is autocratic, dictatorial or collaborative and consultative- then that trait embedded in your DNA tends to show up outside the home at work. Your employees are part of your work family. After all, the best and greatest number of hours each workday are spent with your work family. It just makes sense then the family is cultured to work to their full potential.
But what if you as a titled employee either can’t see or refuse to see this potential in your employees? This shortsightedness is what really ramps up the costs in organizations. I see this in the external families I work with- failure to call out the potential in their partners and their children tend to result in huge family costs. This then gets transferred into their workplace family.
So, how do you see the potential in an employee or family member who for all you know is under performing? Lazy? ( I tend not to use the word lazy to describe anyone- laziness is a sign of a lot of things missing or gone awry- remove those things you remove laziness) How do you call out their potential? Here are two very simple yet powerful strategies that when employed delivers results beyond your wildest dreams:
1. Create awareness. Awareness creation is inexpensive yet delivers a high ROI. Self-awareness leads to discovery of limiting behaviours and supportive behaviours. It allows for the creation of solutions. Self-awareness builds self-confidence and a higher self-esteem. These all go together to create actions that net the desired results on both the part of the titled and untitled employees.
2. Trust. Just as children and spouses need an environment at home where they feel safe to be who they are- it’s no different for employees in the workplace. As a titled employee you demonstrate trust in your direct reports by the kinds of tasks you assign them, who gets certain tasks versus others, the language used to correct behaviour or work that needs to be done differently.
If your employees are under performing you may wish to take a close look at your overall work and home cultures. Who you are as a leader in these two arenas will shape the quality workers you have showing up at work each day.