The sun was shining and I was out in the garden cutting the grass. The thoughts went, like me, as the tall grass became shorter. I had just finished a couple of interesting books on how we interact within our organizations.
– Why don’t we do what we know is best for us, I thought? Research shows time and again what is good, but we continue to do the opposite. Why?
For example, we know that what motivates people is to be part of something bigger, to have a say, and to be listened to.
Yet we think that it is money that should motivate us. Studies show that money is only a motivator if there is something very simple and physical to be done. As soon as there is thought involved in the task, even at a very rudimentary level, money is not a motivator at all. It is even counterproductive to attract money to perform these types of tasks.
We also know that when people are listened to and involved in deciding how to create value, they feel good and do a better job. A job that is in turn successful for the business.
Yet we still hold on to our hierarchical structure, where the person higher up in the hierarchy is the one who is expected to have all the answers, all the decisions, and to be the wisest.
Studies also show time and again how what is called Psychological Safety is crucial to the success of an organization.
Psychological safety means, among other things, that it is safe to express oneself, even if the manager and/or many colleagues think otherwise. You are not punished for having an opinion, but rather encouraged to come up with thoughts and ideas. Having a say is seen as a positive thing.
Large organizations have gone wrong because they have not had a culture where it is safe to express themselves. Instead, the hierarchical structure was so dominant that people were afraid to express themselves, which they learned the hard way. Expressing dissenting views and questioning is not conducive to your employment, with its associated career progression and salary increase.
Examples of these, where staff preferred to remain silent rather than reveal what they saw as wrong, are:
- Car manufacturer Volkswagen, which suffered huge damages and badwill when ‘dieselgate’ was revealed.
- The bank Wells Fargo, which saw its share value fall and was fined billions of dollars after the scandal over its quest to increase the number of accounts as evidence of expansion.
- NASA, which saw its space shuttles Columbia and Discovery suffer catastrophic events and fatalities. The reason: technical errors that employees knew about, but did not dare to pursue as issues.
There is a long list of activities where things have gone very wrong. All because there has been a culture where people have not dared to speak up when they see that something is not as it should be.
Even though we know from research that it is often crucial for success that staff feel psychologically safe, we are creating a culture that does not live up to that.
We know one thing, but we do another.
In the fall, we will open up the Successful Change Management course. You will learn more about how to successfully create a culture of continuous improvement.
There we will look at the reasons why we do what we know we should not do. And how we create a culture in an organization to successfully drive our improvement work. The work that ensures that you and your business will not suffer similar disasters, large or small, as the above example.
You can already register your interest in the course. This is not a binding registration, but just to ensure that you receive more information as the event approaches. Then you can decide at your leisure whether you want to participate or not. Click on the link HERE to access the registration form for the course.