Picture a sports team. The team has just lost the all important final match of a tournament and the fans are disappointed. The captain steps up for the runner's up trophy and whilst congratulating the team that put up an excellent performance throughout the tournament, graciously accepts that the team did not perform to it's full potential and needs a lot of improvement before the next season.
The captain also points out the exact areas where they were at fault and the desire to work hard on their weaknesses and the promise to live up to the expectations of their fans. Fantastic ! They have told it like it is , it's honest and it's from the heart.
The management of the sports club promptly acts on all the feedback, constructive or destructive , makes some leadership changes, improves training and invests in the well being of the players and soon enough , in the next season , this team wins the tournament.
Telling it like it is, has led to a complete turn around of the sports team for the better.
Unfortunately , Telling it like it is , doesn't necessarily permeate into corporates and firms which are essentially big teams of performers, just like a team sport.
Just like the management of a sports team is judged on it's performance, every year or season, the management of a company is judged by it's employees through surveys. It is encouraged that the employees provide an honest, unbiased opinion of various facets of their work , with emphasis on leadership. They are also promised anonymity and frank disclosure of survey results, besides the promise to "act" on the results of the survey.
After-all, it's good leadership and direction that will propel the teams to achieve their objectives, year after year and will keep the employee motivated to perform to their optimum potential.
Many employees open up and provide honest feedback , especially on leadership because they still believe, just like the promises made by our politicians, that their "votes" and "feedback" count.
To the defense of senior management , they don't always get it right. Therefore , surveys are a best opportunity for them to see -
- What works and what doesn't in the organisational structure that they have created?
- What are the bottle necks and what are the pain points?
- What have they neglected in terms of training and team building?
- What can help them achieve their firm's objectives this year and in the years ahead?
The results arrive and the top level management sees some of the "brutally honest " comments put forward by their employees. There is a lot of "useful" ideas, which if implemented correctly
- Can help implement new and streamlined work practices.
- Can help cull some roadblocks in leadership.
- Can help discover and mentor underperforming individuals or teams.
- Can help create a more efficient and effective workforce.
But, as expected, the distilling of the results begins and what ends up being presented to the horrified and , at the same time, amused employees is a very watered down version of the actual situation. There's a token recognition of a couple of areas where the firm performed better than last year and where it was worse.
The reports presented, somehow always show that the results are not that bad and that the management is doing it's "job" efficiently.
When the time comes for the management to act upon the feedback, the employees observe that a fraction of it is implemented in a very diluted form and whispers are rife in the corridors. In the end what remains is the age old question - "What's the use?"
(image courtesty : quotesgram.com )