It had been a pretty much one-sided conversation on the ride back to the office from the job site. The talking had been done mostly by the senior partner in the firm, with the listening by the one of his employees. The employee knew better than to really engage the senior partner in any conversation, as the senior partner enjoyed hearing the sound of his own voice. The employee was happy enough, for if he were to say anything, he might not have a job after that day.
The senior partner was going on about the recent rash of people leaving the firm. The most recent departure was someone pretty high up in the organization, leaving a hole they would have to fill and quickly. It was odd. When there was a hole in the employee’s level, there wasn’t an urgency to fill that vacancy, and the work was distributed to others as a ‘cost savings measure’.
The senior partner continued. “Why didn’t he just come in to speak with me about what was wrong. Nobody seems to do that. If they would just do that, we could work things out with them and we wouldn’t be facing this.”
The employee just nodded and continued to stare straight ahead, keeping his mouth shut. He didn’t mention that this was the same firm where, if an employee asked for a raise, the senior partners would drag out every mistake they had ever done since the employee first walked in the door as justification to reject the raise. This was the same firm where there were not automatic raises, even though their billing out rates continued to rise. This was the same firm, which, as mentioned, would not replace workers when they left because, ‘well, we aren’t making enough money to do so’.
Unaware of this inner dialogue, the senior partner continued on what he considered a happier note. They had won the contract for a few other projects, which the employee would be the main contact. Looking at the employee, the senior partner said to him, “Let’s hope you don’t screw this one up like you did the last one”.
The ride continued in silence.
Managers and leaders are mirrors for their organization. What attitudes, ideas, and opinions they generate are reflected back to them in the attitudes, ideas, and opinions of their employees. If they generate fairness, insight, and professionalism, they will have this reflected back at them. If they generate the opposite, that, too, will be reflected back to them. It is the clueless manager who generates one set of values and expects a different one to be reflected in their organization.
If you are wondering why employees in your organization act a certain way, look to yourself first to see if this behavior is the one you are sending out to the staff. If it is, and if you truly want your organization to work differently, then begin with the most difficult change of all — your attitude. Turn that mirror on yourself and take a good, hard look at yourself. You may be surprised at what you see.