Recently I was privy to a Leadership Council meeting of an organization which has run into choppy waters. The atmosphere in the plush conference room was grave and the top management had grim looks on their faces.
The MD of the organization initiated the discussion
"Team , we are not doing well at all ! The cash flow of the organization is stifled and there have been layoffs in all the departments . We need to gear up ... "
"Yes Sir ... " there was unified assertion by everybody in the room.
"But we have launched a few new initiatives and I think we will be able to recover soon , Right ? " He smiled
"Yes Sir... " everyone smiled.
"Anyone has any suggestions or ideas ? "
"Yes, Mr. X ... what do you say? You and your department will never improve, right !"
Mr X squirmed uncomfortably.
As a coach and a consultant, the following week I had several meetings across the organization. Itreally made me wary about telling the MD about the findings.
Given the culture of the organization , will he be able to take the feedback ?
I applied the first rule of giving constructive feedback
"Sir, I will be giving you some bad news . I hope you are open to it. Mostly it is to do with cultural changes at the top "
The MD was really taken aback. No one gave him "bad" feedback !
"Uh.. hmm ...yes, please go ahead"
I hoped I had made him prepared for the comments .
Lack of planned approach towards work : As an organization, we do not appreciate planning for work and consider it a wastage of time. This results in adhoc work, wastage of time and resource, lack of professionalism and customer dissatisfaction. We should promote planning.
Lack of accountability and ownership : As an organization, we should drive accountability and ownership down to the grass root level. This will not happen with a carrot and stick approach, but it will happen through cultural and behavioural changes from the top. Very frequent feedback, taking people to task for not doing particular work at the given time / effort, taking unplanned leaves, not performing as per the expectation. If after feedback, people do not improve, they should be pruned away from the organization.
Top down culture : We do not take bright ideas from the people on the field. Here we sometimes miss out on opportunities for improvement. On the other hand, anything told from the top is almost never disputed even by the senior members. So , what happens is that we are deprived of contradictory ideas and cannot improve upon the ideas. We should appreciate and encourage people to contradict and give their views rather than agreeing to everything.
Fixed mindset about certain people / department : There seems to be a closed and fixed mindset about specific people and departments. Even when improvement are done or rectification and corrections are done, the impressions do not change. This results in demotivation and productivity decreases since the feeling is that whatever is being done, it will not be taken well. We should have an open mind and listen and take 360 degree feedback We should look at data and then come to conclusion rather than have a fixed mindset or be judgemental.
The MD did not smile .
Maybe this was the first time that someone gave him negative comments.
But high time he learnt to take feedback so that he can bring his company back on track.