How can top managers create a culture of innovation, of top performance, of trust? How can they win approval, allegiance, followers?
What happens when entrepreneurs or CEOs want to make a „clear statement“ to their employees? The sickness rate is too high. The efforts of the investors to keep production in Europe are not rewarded by the workers. The cost situation in Romania or Mexico would be so much more favourable … Obviously they want to give orientation, to show and evoke passion, to create urgency. They suspect that the willingness to change is low.
What goes on in their heads when managers devalue their own people, when they attack them? They show undisciplined emotional tension and expect their employees to react rationally and sensibly. Their employees should show themselves to be contrite and think: „right, I’ve just been sick too long“, „right, I should earn less so that the company can earn more“, „right, I`ve been lazy, I just have to try so much harder“? Where do such twisted fantasies come from? A „clear announcement“ is always an insult, no matter how cleverly disguised it may be. It will be percieved exactly as the unrestrained anger it is, as aggression of the powerful, as a threat to which people can only react with retreat.
Employees can hardly answer openly: „You of all people tell us that, you with your disastrous financial investment decisions, you with your three nephews, who steal our time as interns“. We bet, this is how they talk confidentially to each other. Their reactions will be distance, alienation, passivity, indifference, inner or actual notice. Because they feel helpless and threatened.
A few weeks ago it was reported that the chairman of a board of directors of a big international company has demanded a „culture change“. He wrote an angry letter ful of criticizm to all employees. It is very unlikely that this will trigger any positive development. What should this cultural change look like at all? From now on everyone is working uninterruptedly and diligently for the good of the company and admiring the boss? After all, the chairman`s message is the contrary of trusting togetherness. He is not a role model of how joy in work expresses itself, he does not show how responsibility should be assumed. Criticism will never have a positive effect.
How can top managers create a culture of innovation, of top performance, of trust? How can they win approval, allegiance, followers? They have to use strong appreciative words, signalling affiliation:
„In the past, you gave everything you could to make our company successful. We want to continue on this path and overcome the difficulties together with you. We can do that! You have already shown your great engagement and power. We all want to be successful. It was with great regret that I learned that the number of sick days in our company is disproportionately high. We can not allow this to happen. Your health is particularly close to my heart. I will look into this so that working conditions change. I want that you remain healthy. Please let me know what I can do. We want to bring great things about, and we can do that. That is what I stand for. Every single one of you works for the good of the company and I am extremely grateful. I look forward to further great years with you“.
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