Skip to main content

Why Top Executives Keep Employees In The Dark





Have you ever noticed that most companies don't spend a lot of time telling you "how things get done around here?"


Shockingly, very little information is available explicitly.
  • Our management guru of choice: Is it Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, who? What books do we read, what discipline do we follow?
  • The history, mission and current challenges facing the organization: When did it get started? What were the meaningful moments? Who do we revere here, what difference did they make? What do we need to do now, and why?
  • The little things: Words "we" use. When people go to lunch. How to address superiors (first name only or more formally), send emails (short or long, or maybe we talk in person and stay off the computer), and so on?
  • Of course, the "brass tacks": What are our standard operating procedures? How do we define each job - your job? When we sit down together at the end of the year and talk about a bonus - will you have known all this time what you could have done to earn it?
You would think we'd spend almost all our time doing management stuff, performance stuff, coaching stuff and cultural stuff. And, of course, training stuff to get people up to speed.


For no matter how sophisticated your operation, only human beings can get the work done. Only people can make the decisions, pull the levers, and leverage the technologies.
So why do we leave them grasping for answers in the dark?


I think the answer is that the higher they go on the food chain, the less executives understand how very little most people in the organization know - because they are having conversations at the top, where most of the real action lives.


Living at the top, most executives not only don't understand the downstream impact of ignorance - they actually do not see, and cannot understand, that it exists.


But they do see that employees are unmotivated, that they don't care.


Here's a good way to fix that problem: Tell people what is going on, what you want from them, and how they can help.  In short:
“A company is people … employees want to know… am I being listened to or am I a cog in the wheel? People really need to feel wanted.” - Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Enterprises
You don't have to make a big deal out of "internal communication" programs or hire a huge specialized staff to speak in a foreign language to those you manage.


Just step back and let them do what they are supposed to do in the first place.


If you don't, guess what is going to happen?


They will "divorce" you!


But before they leave, they'll be disengaged, pushing email back and forth, getting into needless conflicts with other employees, and eventually marking time while they find another employer that loves and values them.


Of course, there are many intelligently run companies out there. They make sure, at all times, that staff members know their place on the team. That they're up to speed, formally and informally.


Richard Branson again:
“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.” - Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Enterprises
In fact, great companies go well beyond informing. Instead, their attitude is all about marketing, and they market from top to the bottom and all the way back up again because they know that the employees are really all they have in terms of assets. With every word, every assignment, every email and every chat they communicate:
“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
–  Herb Brooks (1937 - 2003), head coach of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, Lake Placid, 1980, which won a gold medal
________
Copyright 2016 by Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of her employer or any other organization or entity, including the United States as a whole. Photo via Pixabay (Creative Commons CCo).

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

Should I Add My Beer-Focused Instagram Account To My LinkedIn profile?

This is my response to a question originally posed on Quora.

The answer, like lawyers tend to say, is: “It depends.”

Not knowing what you do for a living, let’s assume that your LinkedIn profile is typical, meaning that it reflects the image of a corporate professional.

Would your boss, or a prospective employer, think badly of you for promoting your passion for beer?

Traditional product branding says that you should focus on your unique selling proposition fairly single-mindedly. Your goal is to create a space in the customer’s mind dedicated to your brand so that when they want to purchase something like it, they shortcut all alternatives and go straight to you.

So from a product branding point of view, putting a personal beer account on your professional profile is distracting. It tells an employer that you’re not totally focused on the encyclopedic and ever-evolving knowledge, skills and abilities required to do your valuable type of job.

However, people are not products, and appl…