The meeting began, and every staff person came prepared to battle for their piece of the pie.
“Well, we’ve started to work towards our new behaviors,” the CEO began. “I’d like to get an update on how we’re doing. Let’s start with the training manager.”
“Thank you, Mr. CEO. We have already put 325.4 people through the new training, and the average score on our class surveys shows a 4.3 out of 5 on ‘felt the class was helpful.’ We would like to begin our follow-up actions with these people, working with their managers to ensure the behaviors are being implemented in the real world so we can impact results.”
“Thank you, Ms. Training Manager, that sounds like the right thing to do,” replies the CEO.
Someone in the room clears their throat and says, “May I share something?” It is the manager of the communications department.
“While I appreciate what the training manager is trying to do, I don’t think we should begin any follow-up actions until communications can get fully immersed and ensure that communications are coming from top leadership to reveal results of the training and introduce the follow-up actions.”
The CEO looks up from the report he was perusing in front of him and says, “I think that’s a great idea, Mr. Communications.”
Another throat clearing comes from the director of Human Resources. “While all of this is really exciting, if we’re going to talk about new behaviors I’d like to be sure that every behavior coincides with our performance appraisal process before we start any follow-up actions.”
“And if we’re going to do that,” says the CFO, “then we’d better be sure our incentive pay backs up the right behaviors.”
The CEO sees the familiar trend, and does what he usually does at this point. “This is all good movement forward, but I think we’d better put a hold on those follow-up actions until some of these issues are met. Why don’t all of you get together and make sure all of these pieces get put into a project plan and I want an update at every monthly meeting.”
There is momentum built by training that has informed all employees of behavioral expectations. Employees have been told those expectaions will be observed by managers every day. However, because of this staff war there will be follow-up actions, no reinforcement, and no real implementation. Instead there are more meetings, more Powerpoint decks, and more staff tugging for their part of the project.
If organizations are going to stay relevant today, they have to:
1. Have a bias for action – if there is no legal issue tied to moving forward, let the staff work on other pieces while the behaviors are occurring.
2. Reinforce accomplishment rather than ownership — leaders need to stop pitting people against each other by praising the people who own the most and reinforce those who accomplish real change.
3. Value building behaviors over building reports — leaders need to stop ogling over reports and start asking how those numbers were created.
Is this why the line always believes every new initiative will involve a kick-off and then fade away?