Say what you mean, mean what you say

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15 May 2014

Culture in any company is a hard thing to wrangle, and often misunderstood by management teams as something that they can promote and control, or the reason that employees choose to work at their company over any other.

In reality culture is not defined so much by what a management team say, but more the kind of things that they do (or don't!).

A healthy culture is driven by leaders who are able to both communicate the direction of the organisation, and empower individuals within the company to make decisions along the way.

These decisions cover the kinds of clients, the type of work, and the process of completing work amongst others. Leaders that aim to be genuine, consistent, grounded and present will be able to offer a workplace that promotes healthy conflict, attendance to meetings, general respect for other's time, greater personal time management. All the while increasing and improving efficiency.

What so often prevents this is the exact opposite, where leaders are flippant about the direction of the company, what it represents, and a general identity crisis.

This leads to confusion for employees about what their primary goals should be, and a loss of direction.

Clint says no

Additionally a management team that is not present and does not follow through tends to be oblivious to the fact they're generating a culture of confusion, lack of ownership, and out of touch processes.

As they completely misunderstand culture, leaders who are vague and inconsistent will lash out and push culture further out of the way believing they need to be more firm on culture and ownership.

There is a concept of saying what you mean, meaning what you say and following through to break down the barrier of communication, especially when speaking in absolutes.

Speaking in absolutes is a problem that encourages a defensive response and isn't conducive to resolving conflict, or ownership.

This concept can be used incredibly well while managing people (read: Managing Humans) as it can clearly communicate both the direction of the company and the expectation of it's people.

Leaders that demonstrate the attributes of genuineness, consistency, grounding and presence will tend to communicate in a way that is far more rational.

This rationality allows room for challenge from below, that they can and will take on board. It's also a great idea for leaders in this situation to invite [some] staff to key management meetings to empower them with directing the company.

The alternate is a workplace of alienated, directionless staff, where high attrition periods—or changing of the guard—are inevitable.