On Having to Freestyle in the Overlap
Today's USA Today Snapshot reported that less than one out of every two employees believe their company's culture is widely embraced and understood. Shocking?
Not really. Especially when you consider the conflicting goals and objectives that so many companies (and their departments) have in place these days. Consider the following examples:
- Company A preaches cost reductions AND innovative thinking as two of their key goals.
- Company B touts superior customer service AND maximized productivity as theirs.
- Company C believes in both customer courtesy AND customer safety as their two top priorities.
To a boss, these might seem like completely fine statements. But employees know that they spend an awful lot of time having to freestyle - that is, decide for themselves in the Overlap of conflicting organizational/departmental priorities. Again consider:
- An analyst in Company A has a fabulously innovative idea to improve her area's quality controls, but she needs to purchase some equipment in order to make it happen. She's in the Overlap and must freestyle a decision as to whether to bring the idea up to her boss (and be chided for her lack of cost-consciousness), or forget about it entirely (and be slammed at review time for her inability to think out-of-the-box).
- A customer service rep in Company B has to decide between really helping the end-of-shift customers and meeting his/her productivity metrics. He's in the Overlap and must freestyle a decision as to whether to go-the-extra-mile for a few aggravated customers (and miss his numbers ... again) , or give 'em the bum's rush (and achieve Top Performer status for the week).
- Attendants with Company C can't help but wonder if it is better to be impolite - or even rude - to lessen the possibility of someone getting a little scraped, or just be as courteous as possible to as many guests as possible and only address imminent safety dangers with patrons?
These may not be decisions you want to delegate. Not because you don't trust your employees to make the right decision, but because you don't want them to even be decisions that employees to have to make. Besides, if the USA Today survey is right, chances are that only 44% of your staff would decide as you would.
Right, wrong, or indifferent, that seems like a problem just waiting to happen.
Labels: Success at Work