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An Organization Where Facts Matter

Feb 14, 2018

Your Best Employees Are Like Trey Gowdy

I like jobs where facts matter. I like jobs where fairness matters. I like jobs where, frankly, where the process matters. It’s not just about winning and it’s not just about reaching a result.”

In the latest retirement announcement from Capitol Hill, Rep. Trey Gowdy paints a pretty bleak picture of a workplace divided by factional politics – a place where minds are made up before people come to the table and personal agendas mean more than doing the right thing.

It’s easy to point the finger at the federal government and feel superior. After all, it’s in a pretty dysfunctional state. Your organization may not be anywhere near as extreme, but is it entirely different?

  • Do longstanding problems remain unresolved because different teams can’t get on the same page?
  • Do leaders from different functions talk as though they aren’t even living in the same reality?
  • Do some people rise because they play the political game well, even though they don’t get anything done?
  • Do you find yourself in meetings where debate circles around some fine point of procedure, but the real central issue isn’t being discussed?

If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer to those questions is “yes” a lot more than we’d like.  The toll that takes on our organizations can be immense. Important work doesn’t get done. Problems aren’t solved. Opportunities are missed. Employees get burned out. Some of them just begin to accept it as normal. Others – your Trey Gowdys – eventually walk out the door.

For years, my team has been helping leaders deal with these destructive patterns in their organizations with development programs and coaching  We help them move from a culture of individual wins to one of getting the right result for the business. We help leadership teams move beyond fruitless clashes of opinion to productive fact-based discussions where different views can be explored. We help managers move from conversations with employees that are more about personality to ones that are about performance and partnership.

We’ve found that—

  • The first step is helping people recognize how their own behavior contributes to the problem. There’s a gap between the way we intend to approach situations and the habits that we default to – especially when the going gets tough. In many cases, our habits backfire and produce the exact opposite of what we intend.
  • Getting that window into our own thinking and behavior is not enough. We need to shift our mindset and translate it into new behaviors that really reflect our values. That’s hard work. It takes practice and support, but it can be done. Having concrete tools and practical techniques helps a lot.
  • Having a shared experiences among a group of leaders who can support and hold each other accountable helps even more.

If the US House of Representatives wants to bring us in, I’ll happily offer some free services. That seems unlikely in the current climate. In the meantime, we’ll keep focusing on our corporate clients.

Training and coaching, like we do, is one part of the equation. I’d love to know, what else are you doing to build an organization where facts matter?

-Sean Kennedy, SVP Learning Strategy, Cambridge Leadership Group