I am popping a lot of bubbles lately.
There is a tendency by the rank-and-file to project a certain aura of greatness about their companies to the point that when the rubber hits the road, tries to defend their stupid policies and procedures and leave the customer wanting to obliterate them out of the face of the earth!
A classic example of a website form that this organization is promoting to spur up public involvement and engagement with their programs. I put out my hand and expressed interest and started engagement. Well, they have a convoluted and archaic policy of internal referrals and Board approvals, aka 'insider trading.' I called the BS and they can't fail not to admit that if they want to remain exclusive at their own peril, they do not have to bother public citizens like us with these fake forms.
Another classic example of that is the fact that organizations whose mandate is to create public engagement end up actually creating exclusionary and elitist programs that bar interested people from actually being able to participate. Who would have thought that entrepreneurial programs espousing the values of community, transparency, collaboration are those that pretty unfriendly to newcomers and new entrants. This perpetuates the old-boys network mentality and creates incestuous relationships amongst actors in the space. Incestuous relationships are very harmful to organizations and individuals. There is no fresh air coming in.
Whether it is from the public and private sector, citizen leaders like us should refuse to accept the BS, call it for what it is, and get the attention of the decision-maker of the organization. Whether it is an airline, a grocery store, a non-profit, a church, or whatever, bad policies, procedures, protocols, or whatever systems have to be resisted with gusto. Organizations that fail to make corrections are set to suffer from many troubles or count their not-so-long shelf lives.
Boards and staff have to set the records straight. They need to define their roles and responsibilities. The Board needs to set the general direction for the organization and look at the long-term viability of staff, programs, and assets. While the staff is hired to look after the particular operations of the organization.
When hands-on Board becomes to muddled up in too much detail, the staff feels disempowered and frustrated that every decision including what nails to use or plants to buy or how many colors of the logo needs to have is a pain in itself. Boards are not meant to make those calls!
It is important to leave it up to the staff to figure it out. They are to be trusted to make those important operational decisions because they are close to the problem, they know what works because they have the experience working in this role, and that they need to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. Respecting each other's roles is highly critical to the success of this relationship.
When Board and staff work constructively, then it can be heaven on earth. It is important that staff can consult the Board when....(state those reasons) and stick to those as much as possible. Constructively in the sense that while roles and responsibilities are delineated well, the relationship is very supporting of one another. If both Board and staff collectively use their energies and their strengths together, they can solve problems, anticipate future challenges, and deal with setbacks with resilience.
It is a tango- takes two steps forward and one step backward. As a dance, partners have to be in one heart, soul, and mind so that it doesn't become a labor but of an art in itself. So it does with Board and staff relationship.
If there is high commitment, it beats compliance any day.
If there is no commitment, then you have rules and more rules to compensate for the lack of real and genuine engagement.
Governments and regulatory agencies slap rules and more rules when it is more wise, productive, effective, and affordable to elicit more engagement, thereby in the long-term, you get commitment and fierce dedication.
Business leaders, owners, and managers must clearly understand this differentiation. If there is no real accountability and commitment to staff and employees, you will get compliant but mediocre and low-performing average crew. Businesses cannot thrive in the atmosphere of compliant, obedient, but brainless individuals whose task is to keep their jobs, stay away from trouble, and always say yes to the boss.
Committed employees take their time to understand their roles, participate in efforts to improve their work and their performance, and show their best towards the customers or clients of the organization. They are enabled, empowered, and do not ask permission to make a decision that will redound to the greatness of their organization. They are permitted to cherish the customer and showcase their talent going sometimes beyond their duties to accommodate what seems to be the right thing to do versus what is comfortable at that time.
There is a risk taking that is not merely tolerated but actually acknowledged and encouraged because the rewards for action make the difference.
When nobody is looking or paying attention to their work, are your employees able to showcase compliant behaviors or committed behaviors? Find this out for your self.
Your Theory of Change is your organization's statement as to how your mission will achieve your vision.
What constitutes an effective Theory of Change?
-Clear causal chains leading to change
-Your inputs, outputs, and outcomes reflect the change
-Explains the underlying assumptions of actions, activities, programs, and portfolios
-Gives explanations to other factors leading to or achieving change
-Gives analysis and context of how change can happen and in what conditions
-Accounts for their contribution to the overall change that they want to see
The theory of change is not:
-About defending the theory or framework itself
-Not about being truistic or being tautological
-Being naïve that your theory of change is unique and never been done somewhere, somehow
-Not learning from lessons of other practitioners, not looking over your shoulder to see what others' have done with the challenges and issues
- Too simplistic, myopic, and mechanistic
- The premise that we 'don't know the solution yet, so our theory of change is about proving the theory." Very wrong.
What is your theory of change? Your theory of change says a lot about the quality of the analysis you put in your work and how it makes a difference every day?
Fence-sitters and pretenders are scared people. They refuse to be involved or pretend to be involved but never to the scale that most people who are committed would. They ruin the possibilities for organizations because they not only favor the status quo but also block meaningful efforts to create waves and progress for the organization.
When you have fence sitters and pretenders, they sit on the sidelines, ensuring that things would hopefully get bad so they can pat themselves in the back and say, "see I told you guys, it wont work because....." There are too many people like that who refuse to be accountable for their actions and how it is affecting the whole organization.
If you are the manager, supervisor, or the boss of the company, make no mistake, these kinds of people are creating the kind of climate that do not serve the purpose of the business and ruin it all for everybody.
Don't put a decaying apple with the rest of the bunch. You know what will happen.
What is the most scary is when these people govern the organization and things are stalled for no logical reason than to protect what is expedient and 'normally done around here." First, they can't lead. Second, because they can't lead they micromanage. And third, they think they are being effective worst, being serving the organization well.
The good and bright people should muster the courage to step up to the plate and either eliminate or dilute the damage that these pretenders can inflict the organization. Ultimately, they should be caught and be rid of.
Okay, your organization made a big mistake, and the public is talking about it. What can you do?
This is when crisis management kicks in. It is just a matter of time when the crisis comes. It will come and don't hope and pray that it won't blow your organization to pieces. With social media, fiascos, nightmares, and blunders are magnified to the millionth power.
1. Create a plan to address the most critical issues to the least important. Is it a public relations crisis, an environmental disaster, a public health concern, a racist statement, a hostage situation, a sudden accident in the plant causing deaths, etc. What are the paramount issues that need to be tackled immediately, in the next 24 hours, 48 hours, and the first week of the crisis, second week up to the first 3 months?
2. Create a team or committee that will have different roles and responsibilities to deal with several aspects of the crisis. One person will be the one answering to media inquiries. One person will contact the people or customers concerned and inform the relevant stakeholders and agencies of the problem. One person will keep the staff calm and collected, and become that go-to for anything company related. One person from management will address the public and stakeholders via a public broadcast which may require an apology statement or statement that details what the company will do to avert further damage, destruction, or mayhem to the situation.
3. Keep the lines of communication open, internally and to the public at large. Nobody wants to be in the dark about a crisis that is developing that may involve public safety, public health, and life and death, and other serious repercussions. The more the company or organization is open in admitting its omissions and commissions, its errors, and gaps in its practices, solutions can be developed for long-term prevention and mitigation measures.
4. Something significant happened in the company that put them in the news. Whether it is because of certain practices that led to these unfortunate incidents or things that were taken out proportion and perceived in an awful light, these things can propel the company to sudden popularity in a not-so-good way. When Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, all companies associated with the brand had to back off before their sales start to dip. Reputation management is crucial. Companies built brands for decades only to be damaged by malicious intent. Be responsive, address the issue, and take control of the messaging. If your company cannot control its messaging, somebody will, and it may not be on a favorable term.
The steps to crisis management start with creating a process to deal, contain, and control the situation from further escalating, empower a team to deal with different aspects of the case with central coordination, opening the lines of communication to all concerned stakeholders, and take responsive measures until all issues are satisfactorily resolved.