Could something like this happen to us? Is it starting to happen already? That question must be engaging Boardrooms up and down the land following recent revelations from News International, the Metropolitan Police and the Press Complaints Commission.
For all of the high profile failures such as these, BP and NASA there are many more low profile failures which are still enormously damaging. They can result in chronic underperformance, loss of shareholder value and a failure to realise human potential.
Here are some simple suggestions for guarding against a leadership and culture breakdown in your organisation. They involve regularly holding a mirror up to the organisation and being prepared to act on what is discovered – at whatever level it is discovered.
- Check out the culture. Understanding the behaviours which are currently driving and shaping organisational culture can be a revelation.
- Do an anonymous staff survey to find out what is going on and what staff are really thinking.
- Commit to 360s for the leaders and put in a development programme around those.
- From the top down, the entire company needs to be prepared to take a good look at itself in the mirror and commit to act upon what it sees. No excuses, no attempts at justification.
Managing organisational culture has to be the responsibility of the leadership team and it must be seen as real work – not just a “fluffy bunny” activity to fill a page in the annual report.
Simply issuing an edict about standards of conduct is not good enough. After all News Corporation did that.