Why do we believe performance (and change) is personal before it is organizational? It’s not just because a colleague once told us. It’s because we see it every day in every organization we interact with.
When is the last time you walked into a store, had a bad first contact with a customer service representative, and yet still purchased something from that store? What about when you had a good first contact? Much more likely isn’t it that you bought something from the latter store rather than the former?
Have you ever had an unresolved disagreement or argument with a friend? Not too conducive to continuing the friendship, was it? What about a relationship with a co-worker that went negative, still conducive to a productive working relationship? Probably not. Is your employer impacted? Probably so if your continued interaction is essential to service or product delivery.
Let’s say you and your co-worker agree to work together, even though you disagree on a particular functional issue or expectation you have of each other related to your jobs. Will your work relationship and communications be speeding along in overdrive, or stuck in second gear due to the tension or stress you experience? Ever tried driving a car with the parking brake on? Found yourself going nowhere fast, didn’t you? How can an organization possibly perform up to its full potential if people aren’t performing up to theirs? It can’t!
Am I stating the obvious? Of course I am! And yet these situations occur and fester daily in every organization to some degree.
So what can a business leader, or a worker on the shop floor do about it? It doesn’t matter whether you choose a top down or a bottom up approach because somewhere along the way everyone in the organization needs to get on board, to get themselves on the same page with each other, improve their communications, and begin strengthening their working relationships.
It may start with a boss and his or her direct reports making clear their expectations of each other, and agreeing to accept accountability for delivering results. It may start with two co-workers seeing and acting on an opportunity to improve how they work together to get better results, and talking with others about their success. Regardless of where the effort starts, the focus is on communicating, clarifying, and delivering what is expected and necessary.
Do you want better organizational performance? Then regardless of your place in the organization, make performance personal, develop your communication skills, express your expectations, don’t assume others know what you need or want, and hold yourself accountable for your commitments.
Is this easy? No. Is it necessary? Yes. It’s a matter of common business sense, and a better business basic.