Why Will We Defy Our Government, But Not Our Employer?
The latest data shows that 49% of Americans would not abide by a country-wide COVID lockdown. Instead, they would continue living their lives according to their values and rules. So basically, they would not listen to leaders and instead do what they want because they do not agree with the decision.
In business, employees are faced with instances all the time where they do not agree with a leader’s decision, and are asked to do things that they do not believe in or are not aligned with their values. And how do they respond? They do it anyway. Why? Because in business, there are consequences. The most severe being getting fired and losing one’s paycheck if they speak up or buck the system.
And herein lies a dysfunctional, negative control that organizations have over people. Let’s face it… if you don’t abide by a country-wide COVID lockdown, there’s a good chance there will be no consequences. You probably will not be fined or arrested.
But in business, there usually are consequences for not abiding and they are all negative – getting a poor performance rating, not getting promoted, being labeled a troublemaker employee, being fired, or being isolated from co-workers as many people do not want to associate with people who speak up. Needless to say, working in a culture where there are consequences for being honest is demoralizing, deflating, and disengaging.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? Change your culture. In some organizations, this toxic dynamic does not exist. Employees are encouraged to disagree with leaders and speak up, and this is the type of culture you want. When you create an environment where people can disagree, feel safe to speak up, and leaders actually listen to employees and potentially change a decision, you have something special. You have a place that people want to be every day. A place where people feel unencumbered. A place where people are engaged. It starts with your leaders encouraging people to speak up, engage in healthy debate, agree to disagree, and reward – yes, reward – people who model this behavior. Although it may sound impossible, it’s not. It’s key to your success.