Earlier this week I wrote about management taking responsibility and having the tools (and even more so culture) in place to know what’s going on.
And that includes responding to issues – hopefully having the wherewithal to respond.
Part 1: Know what’s going on
Part 2: Responding in an intelligent, thoughtful way
Therefore, when issues arise – and they always will – how management responds is a highly reliable barometer of how engaged they actually are. Are they attending to their own agendas or are they looking out for the firm?
A great culture is evident when the bosses put all the personal stuff and political crap aside and do what’s best for the firm – that means the product they produce and the people who create it have priority. But . . . there has to be great culture in order for that to happen.
Kind of a chicken-or-egg thing.
Now, I have worked for awesome companies and agencies that truly care about employees, the product and profit – only to have one employee (in a key position) completely f*ck things up. That person is usually in HR, but I digress. . .(why is HR such a pain?).
So I find it a complete mystery - and really sad - when an agency or a company has to have an anonymous suggestion box, or worse, do a survey to take the pulse of the employees to reveal any issues that are causing grief.
Surveys are usually anonymous, but these days, no one truly believes that.
I can go one step further. One step that's worse:
Holding formal queries of staff to get their un-censored take on the firm, their department, their boss and their colleagues.
Total transparency some say, and complete vulnerability I say.
I have worked in and with several places that have done just that.
I was always candid.
I thought my employer [finally] cared enough to really know what was happening – and how I thought we could make it better. They wanted my input!
What happened next? Absolutely nothing came of those gut-wrenching episodes.
So you’ve poured your heart out – both about issues that need resolution in a serious way, and heartfelt, intelligent ways to make it better – and now management knows more about you and your great ideas that you know about them.
Would I take another survey? Yes. I̶’̶m̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶e̶t̶e̶r̶n̶a̶l̶ ̶o̶p̶t̶i̶m̶i̶s̶t̶.̶ I’m a pragmatist, so I’ll be honest within reason.
When I’m asked for my unfettered opinion on issues and recommendations for improvements I will always give them. Diplomatically. It can’t be personal. It has to be about getting the work done, identifying the roadblocks and gaps, and finding solutions.
That is what I do every day for every client.
That is what you should do if you’re ever asked open-ended questions on a survey.
Be realistic. If management is asking you to tell them something they should already know, do so with focus and clarity on problem/solution.
Maybe they do care enough to query staff and make improvements and things will get better. However, if it all remains the same, prepare your resume or settle to keep doing the same things in the same way with the same frustrations. It can be “just a job.”
For me, as a consultant, I talk to every single employee and get their take on issues and improvements. I never reveal sources and I’m always totally honest with management on what needs fixing and ways to implement change.
That’s my job. Whether management chooses to adopt it is a different issue.
Therein lies the culture of a firm.