Ten ways to kill productivity and passion: 10) Bamboozle with bullshit
This is the tenth and final post in a series about common problems that can lead teams to fail or otherwise limit their success. The previous post in this series was 9) Frustrate with friction.
In this series we’ve discussed many ways in which organisations kill productivity and passion: excessive bureaucracy, suppressing individuality, expecting that people simply work harder to overcome fundamental problems, boxing in high performers, setting unrealistic goals, motivating people the wrong way, hoarding leadership, putting the desires of individuals ahead of the team, and letting a multitude of little things impede productivity.
In many organisations these problems never get fixed. What makes it worse is when leaders claim to understand the problems and predict that things will get better but nothing ever improves even as new leaders, new programs, and new initiatives come and go. Note that change doesn’t necessarily equate to improvement. In fact change may even be for the worst.
A big part of the problem is that many leaders have difficulty being truly honest. Sometimes they can’t even be honest with themselves. They may be in complete denial like the leadership at RIM, and in RIM’s case it has happened before, or they may truly understand the challenges but may be unable make things better. One of the downsides of rotating executives is that leaders in for a short, fixed term may not have enough time to gain a deep understanding of issues and effect the necessary change. They may also be unwilling to take the risk of screwing up royally when their career has momentum. Sometimes leaders want to make changes but they don’t have support from others including their own leaders.
When leaders can’t be honest their superficial motivations and unrealistic declarations of future improvement may not ring as true as they think. Often, the people in the trenches, mainstays while leaders come and go, have seen and heard it all before and they know when they are being bamboozled with bullshit. If consulted they may have useful reality checks to offer. On the other hand, after years of looking at things through the same lens they may be in need of a fresh perspective. Either way, the only way to come up with a realistic plan is for everyone to be completely honest and open while collectively forging strategies that can be really be implemented successfully.