I remember interviewing someone for a key leadership position at my operation in Thailand, and halfway through the conversation, as he was telling me about his qualifications, he announced, with much pride, that he was an alcoholic and had a lot of passion for what he did. Startled at this revelation and puzzled as to why he would so freely divulge this information and wear it as a badge of honor, I circled back to the comment and asked him to elaborate a little. He went on to mention a few more times that he had been an alcoholic for as long as he could remember and that his job always came first. Upon further questioning, the poor fellow realized that he had been saying “alcoholic” when he meant to be saying “workaholic!”
There is overwhelming data that consistently shows 80% of employees are not engaged in their work, and their lack of satisfaction and enthusiasm about the work they do impacts not only their productivity, but just as importantly, their health and well-being and the quality of their relationships. Sadly, I know from my experience over the decades, having worked with thousands of people across four continents, most have accepted this monumental epidemic as the “way it’s always going to be.” They have come to believe that work is not supposed to be fun and it is normal to be stressed out and unmotivated. This is why Fridays are so celebrated while Mondays are loathed. As a society, we have simply accepted that work will always be a burden and there is nothing any of us can do to change that.
It occurred to me this week, as I was doing the final preparations for a client visit, that most of what I speak on and write about has to do with what is commonly referred to as “change management,” yet I hardly ever use that phrase. I think the reason for this is two-fold. First of all, I have no desire to jump on some bandwagon and be lumped together with all the “Change Management Experts” out there, who may or may not have ever personally led any kind of transformation at all, and secondly, I believe the term “change management” perpetuates an entirely false connotation. I believe the greatest issue with change management has to do with failure to recognize that “change” is rarely the problem, and “management” is rarely the solution!
If your organization suffers from a persistent communication problem and all your attempts at solving the problem have failed, it could be because poor communication is only a symptom of the real problem that you should be addressing. If you are constantly training your people on communication skills and trying one tool or process after another, only to see them seemingly go to waste, it is because your bottleneck is probably not a missing tool set or even skill set. If this is the situation you find yourself in, I submit that you don’t really have a communication problem, but rather a commitment problem!
Early in my career, I had a boss who was a micro-manager. Really, it might be better to call him a “nano-manager,” with the way he did things. I mean, this guy somehow kept up with every single little detail of everything that was going on in his operation, and no triviality was too small for him to intervene over and put everyone in their place. This was just a couple years after Bill Gates predicted that there would be “a computer on every desk and in every home,” but we weren’t there yet; I can only imagine the level of megalomania this boss would have felt with the internet at his fingertips.