By: Linda Henman
When people talk about the inner contradictions of an organization, they frequently refer to “culture,” that omnipresent word that describes all pleasant and unpleasant byproducts of decisions. But they seldom identify the real problem: the decisions that create the traps. Here are 10 examples of how that happens:
- People don’t realize that their decisions create the traps. Unconscious of reality, they imagine some external force defines the problem, and they get defensive when confronted with evidence that contradicts this conclusion.
- When they must face reality, decision makers take on a victim mentality: “That’s the way it is around here.” “You can’t fight city hall in this organization.” “Mention that, and you’ll get yourself fired.”
- Employees don’t trust senior leaders, so they too develop a victim’s point of view.
- Exaltation of the status quo causes people to fear the consequences of needed change, so they don’t kill their sacred cows or any other animal that represents the problem.
- Companies reward predictability and punish risk-taking, which creates an environment where good ideas go to die.
- People don’t have clear areas of accountability, so they personally escape both reward and punishment.
- If people fear punishment for daring ideas, they resist situations that would allow them to learn. Instead, they prefer analysis paralysis to diagnosis and change.
- The quest for popularity, buy-in and collegiality has overpowered the pursuit of effectiveness and success.
- People show an unwillingness to ask for or to give feedback. When this happens, fear can flourish. People don’t know whether their bosses value them or rue hiring them.
- Anti-learning, anti-change and anti-risk companies put all the focus on internal processes and take their eyes off the customer. When this happens, they quickly turn into a company that’s out of business.
“Culture” has offered a too-simple, too-subtle, too-convenient defense for just about everything but has clarified almost nothing important. To escape decision traps, we have to speak in less philosophical, more pragmatic terms—and make the tough calls that will ensure success.
Dr. Linda Henman is one of those rare experts who can say she’s a coach, consultant, speaker, and author. For more than 30 years, she has worked with Fortune 500 Companies and small businesses that want to think strategically, grow dramatically, promote intelligently, and compete successfully today and tomorrow. Some of her clients include Emerson Electric, Boeing, Avon and Tyson Foods. She was one of eight experts who worked directly with John Tyson after his company’s acquisition of International Beef Products, one of the most successful acquisitions of the twentieth century.
Linda holds a Ph.D. in organizational systems and two Master of Arts degrees in both interpersonal communication and organization development and a Bachelor of Science degree in communication. Whether coaching executives or members of the board, Linda offers clients coaching and consulting solutions that are pragmatic in their approach and sound in their foundation—all designed to create exceptional organizations.
She is the author of Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat , The Magnetic Boss: How to Become the Leader No One Wants to Leave, and contributing editor and author to Small Group Communication, among other works.
Dr. Henman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org