As part of our Reality check research into the issues and chaos affecting their organisations and teams, we gave respondents the opportunity to ask us anything. It was interesting to see how many relate to leadership. Topics included how to:
- Ensure leadership clarity
- Empower leaders to tackle difficult conversations
- Prevent leaders from blocking change
- Foster leadership collaboration
- Encourage senior teams to recognise chaos.
There were so many interesting questions, which I answered personally for each respondent, and I wanted to share three of the questions and answers here:
Q – How do you get others, such as senior leaders, to recognise chaos (so that it can then be fixed)?
A – This is really something to think about in terms of the symptoms you’re seeing. Are you able to recognise chaos? Are people off on sick leave? Are processes inefficient and that’s impacting productivity? Are you missing targets? It’s important to identify the business impact of the chaos.
Once you’ve articulated the symptoms of chaos, you can delve into the root cause.
Often senior leaders rush to fix things. For example, if we think about too many people being off sick, leaders might look at creating a policy linked to sick pay, or a campaign to help people manage their workload better at work. You can play “whack-a-mole”, but it won’t be a long-term fix because it’s not dealing with the root cause – it might be a toxic manager is creating chaos instead, so neither of those quick fixes will have any impact.
If you implement these quick fixes, it can waste money and time. And once you start talking about this, you’ll usually get the ear of senior leaders – anything to save time and budget will always be a win!
Q – How do I create better team cohesion through a unified company purpose and communication enhancements?
A – This is a big question!
Firstly, with team cohesion, there are a lot of themes here around team friction, which I’ve shared some information about recently on my podcast and blog and there are two books I recommend: Poles Apart and The Fearless Organization.
When it comes to better team cohesion through company purpose, this must have been co-created to have meaning to everyone in the organisation. If it’s meaningful and relevant, there are behaviours that link into it that help to achieve team cohesion. If it hasn’t been co-created, don’t worry, you can still share the purpose across the organisation and have conversations about it. You can then use workshops to connect it to behaviours and how it all fits together.
You can then start to fit this into programmes of behaviours and link into HR too. Make sure everything then fits into the strategic narrative so that people know why they’re doing what they are doing.
Finally, when it comes to communication, ensure there are opportunities for two-way dialogue and that you have a clear channel matrix too.
Q – What should be the number one priority for internal comms teams to tackle first when there is chaos in the business?
A – Macleod and Clarke identified four main enablers to employee engagement alongside their definition. And it’s the first one – a strong strategic narrative – that I think is the most important. So that would be my priority.
Looking at your leadership team is a close second; they are such an influential part of any organisation that you need to make sure chaos isn’t originating from that group too.
Your priority will, however, depend on what the chaos is and what it’s caused by, so it’s essential to first understand the root cause of any symptoms of chaos you’re experiencing and the impact on the organisation.
Thank you so much to everyone who gave their valuable time to take part in our survey. We’re looking forward to sharing more advice around the questions asked throughout the year. If you have any questions about this research or would like to ask me anything else, please get in touch.