March 15, 2013

Collusion or Commiseration?

While waiting for a client this week in a coffee shop, I couldn't help but hear the couple right beside me talking about work. They didn't seem upset per se but the conversation got a bit loud and heated.

It appeared the topic of the conversation was about the people in their company. Apparently someone in the office is upset because she works too many hours while the other guy isn't in the office enough and the boss hasn't looked at the new forms. My client arrived and we moved on to our own conversation.

The Three Circles

You may be familiar with the theory of three sides to every story - your version, my version, and the truth. So what was really going on in their chat and how often does this happen? Well I’ll propose the true story could be better told if they knew the whole picture and this happens far too often.

In a recent Forbes article entitled Why Are so Many Employees Disengaged, Victor Lipman outlines that the United States Bureau of National Affairs estimates US businesses lose about $11 billion each year due to employee turnover. There are various data that estimate the loss in productivity in North American businesses due to disengaged employees is approaching a trillion dollars annually.

Refills and Retorts

Widen that scope to a global snapshot and the numbers get worse. It's not always obvious, it often comes in small increments difficult to measure. A sick day here, a stab in the back there, an off-site chat here, and suddenly it adds up to a malaise or unhappiness which affects careers, culture, and bottom lines.

This isn't to suggest the two people at the coffee shop are ready to walk but imagine how much productivity is lost by their chat then multiple it by the millions of similar chats all over the world every day. We all need to blow off steam and not everyone will collaborate the way we want them to, but if you’re in a leadership role it’s imperative to understand revenue is driven by much more than sales calls.

If you are the leader, get used to the team talking about you behind your back and not agreeing with every decision but if you treat them fairly and openly, I like your chances.

Open that door a little wider and pass the sugar.

Kneale Mann | Leadership and Culture Strategist, Writer, Speaker, Executive Coach helping leaders create dynamic culture and improved results.

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