Prominent CEOs are standing up against racism, and the country is taking notice. This was the start of a blog that our CEO, Kirsti Tcherkoyan, wrote in September of 2017. This message is still important, but in the age of #MeToo, and tumultuous political times, employees are speaking out against inappropriate behavior in a public display for everyone to see. Leaders need to be vigilant, more than any other time in our history, about the culture they are creating.
In the news, we see examples of employee’s finding their voice and banding together in ways not seen before. New clients are coming to us with stories about female employees demanding a different color lab coat (not pink) so they don’t stand out from the men, or employees creating a social media page to complain about the company they work for. The most recent example is an organization that holds national conferences, managed by volunteers. They became aware of sexual harassment complaints involving their volunteers. As a way to address these complaints, (because as we know our “volunteers”, need to be treated like our “employees”), they distributed an email address for people to submit complaints, and they have been inundated with allegations. Organizations are scrambling, trying to figure out the best way to respond to these new situations and avoid possible adverse action or union initiations.
The narrative changes but the theme is the same: each time it comes down to people. How are we, as an organization engaging people? Are employees feeling aligned to the mission, and what we are trying to accomplish? Are people fully engaged? Do they feel good about working for the organization?
Here’s how you should embrace this new environment and in the end see your organization flourish. First and foremost, your employees should feel proud of the company they work for. You can model this by embracing 3 critical practices: transparency, feedback and meaningful conversations.
Transparency – Everyone knows what everyone else is working on
In addition to living and breathing values throughout the organization, set a tone of transparency that helps the company succeed. Hold all management team members accountable not only for delivery of their goals, but for an empowered work environment. Make sure everyone in the organization – both individuals and work teams – are clear on their own responsibilities and goals. Share successes together, recognize each other together, and create a cohesive team via transparency and mutual respect.
Ongoing Regular Feedback
People thrive in a business environment where they understand the value of their contribution. Give everyone a voice and let them know their feedback matters. People are inspired simply by knowing that they do make a difference – it creates a feedback loop of confidence. They know where they fit into the big picture.
Not Just Feedback but Meaningful Communication
Ensure that feedback is gathered and communicated in a way that is meaningful. That means you have to be able to clarify when communication is not aligned. Communication is not effective if it is one way. Both managers and employees must feel comfortable to give feedback, engage in open dialogue and clarify their position when appropriate. Make it clear at all levels of management that respectful behavior has to be part of that conversation, an integral component of company culture. If behavior is not addressed, it will always be the elephant in the room.
A company with a transparent, communicative culture – plus the tools and practices to keep their goals front-and-center every day – is well on its way to fostering a great working environment within a great place to work.
Jill Pappenheimer is President of Options4Growth and Co-founder of OpaConnect®, the first strategic performance management platform that connects people to each other, their teams, and the mission that drives them forward.