Why does the gap between stated intention and actual day to day behaviour persist in workplaces?
These are just a few recent examples from our work...
1. A senior manager in a large software company expounding his commitment to diversity initiatives... and then assuming that he knows what his PA, returning from a career break, will want in terms of hours
2. A senior manager in a Financial business citing concern over a team member’s lack of commitment and initiative, which has been addressed with little visible change... but giving the team member a “very good” in their appraisal
3. A middle manager in a local authority - which have a set of values including respecting others - loudly railing against “Leave” voters at work...
On paper it may be easy to see what should have been done...
1. Just ask her, don’t assume
2. Make sure the annual review genuinely matches performance... don’t cop out
3. Don’t rant (at least not publicly!)
But if it was that easy we wouldn’t see the above happening (and these are by no means isolated incidents).
So how do we help managers get beyond the intellectual commitment (I believe in an inclusive workplace, I believe we should manage fairly, I believe we should respect others) to reflecting this in the conversations they have in practice and the actions they take?
HR and senior leaders have a vital role to play. HR should help managers at every level make the link between the tools they have at their disposal and their day to day actions; values should be lived, policies used to guide decision making, and processes used to shape behaviour.
Managers should be given time to think through how they make these links. For example, if “Respect others” is a company value, what does this look like in day to day roles? how does it inform decision making? how does it shape our behaviour?
Facilitated discussions or good coaching can help to get to a level of detail in which people recognise their own behaviour, in a way that written values and behaviours often don’t. For example, if a discussion helps a manager see that creating an inclusive workplace starts with the simple action of asking their PA what terms they would like to come back to work on, then we are beginning to join the dots.
For more guidance on how we can help you shape the right behaviours in your teams call us on 01903 732 782 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...