AI, Robotics and Humanity is a critical topic of discussion today! Several dangerous trends are occurring in business today. For example, in the last fifty years’ enterprise companies have started to disappear at an alarming rate. The average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 has gone from more than 50 years to less than 16 years and dropping every year.
Automation in the form of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are threatening to take a massive number of jobs. Organizations such as theguardian.com, NBC News, CNN and others have predicted that we will see 5 million + jobs being replaced by automation by 2020-2021. That’s is only 4 years away.
Even more critical is that AI is now opening the door to machine replacement in areas such as writing, insurance, law and medicine that have until now been considered untouchable by automation. Now this it true but there are some serious caveats to this type of replacement which may slow this area down but it will not stop it.
Unfortunately, we have developed into a society where rumors and gossip often provide convenient tools for both competitive recruiting as well as manipulation of workers. “False News” is major contention in political and business circles today and we are preoccupied with sound bite mayhem and death by innuendo.
While social media is often maligned for these issues, it only helps to propagate, it is not the cause nor is it the generator of the derogatory material, it must originate with a human being, i.e. leader, employee, customer or competitor.
Leadership is generally at the forefront of this very destructive and corrosive process when it starts. I recently commented to someone and firmly believe, “there is NO leadership model in existence that will allow you to avoid relational conflict” and this is one of those areas.
This means that leadership sets the standards of what is acceptable and what is not so this is a critical part of culture that cannot be assigned or delegated. If leaders are using rumors to manipulate the workforce it should not come as a surprise with it turns into a firestorm.
For example, I just recently I tracked a single “Fake News” article that was a known hoax, yet it was re-tweeted over 500 times in less than 14 hours. I didn’t even bother to check the other social media sites. If this is happening in the public arena what makes you think it can’t happen within your company?
Personally, in my somewhat Utopian corporate world, there is no place for falsehoods, rumors or gossip.
Workplace gossip and rumors can represent a destructive force among employees and customers. The rumors or gossip can be about management, company operations, product or service quality, suppliers, or other employees, any of them can spread virally.
So often, people will believe the rumor or gossip, even if it isn’t true, and pseudo truth can then spread to the customers, clients or the public, as well. While some may be harmless, it is always necessary to deal with rumors and gossip in the workplace immediately — before they spread out of control.
Here are some suggestions to deal with them:
1. Always Practice open communication with your employees.
Change in business is a part of life so this is particularly true if your company is planning or executing a major change or relocation. Companies are most vulnerable when they are during major changes because of uncertainty so this aggravation does not need a lot of energy added to blow out of proportion.
It is only natural for employees to be fearful of change and how it will affect their jobs. However, when one person unintentionally or intentionally overhears something, then misconstrues what was said and finally winds up spreading a rumor that is not true the damage has begun.
Be authentic with employees, let them know what is going on so that there is no room for speculation and gossip. Don’t try to spin it or cover it with a lie because this will only intensify the impact.
2. Avoid an over-reaction.
When you hear, that employees are saying something that is not true, the natural reaction is to respond in some way. Many times, this may be in anger or frustration which only fuels the speculation of the employees. Start by understanding that the source of the rumor may not be malicious, and it may be a simple misunderstanding. Always investigate and perform some level of analyses, then develop an appropriate response, if you don’t then the response will more than likely be in anger.
3. Be Proactive with damage control.
If rumors in the workplace can flourish, they will eventually grow and possibly spread outside your company. When you hear of a rumor, be quick to clarify the actual situation and don’t brush it off as “typical employee talk.” Be proactive and act quickly before damage occurs, it is much easier and less costly in many areas.
4. Never encourage interoffice gossip or rumors.
Although these are typical human behaviors, particularly in situations where many different groups may be pushed together under the same roof, leadership should never allow or encourage harmful gossip and rumors.
Let your employees know you have a zero tolerance for malicious gossip and rumors. Let them know that leadership will always investigate, analyze and determine objectively where the origination point is so the truth can be determined.
These zero tolerances, must be part of the company culture and DNA with swift action taken when discovered. There should be no bias in any part of the investigation.
5. Avoid lingering and nurturing rumors.
Failing to keep employees informed, generating spin, or hedging when confronted about company change, will usually result in a backlash on leadership. Even though you may not be ready to tell employees about an upcoming event, you need to set the record straight as quickly as possible if a rumor has started.
As leaders, employees and customers it is critical to keep your commitments or say no, there is no middle ground here. If you need help in this area, check out the PEER Commitment Management Platform at http://peersaas.com.
These suggestions are starting points because each incident is unique to the individuals, organization, culture and time-frame. Some instances you may let play out because they will expose themselves as falsehoods and die.
Other times, it will take an intervention to correct, adjust or defend, depending on how long leadership waited, how rational or irrational the creators of the material are and how determined the opposition is to disrupt.
The primary factor to remember is that with a culture of transparency, high integrity and openness the ability for rumors, gossip or “Fake News” to is diminished significantly. If everything in the organization is done behind closed doors and leaders seed the rumor mill, then the it is ripe for the rumor mill to run rampant.
Avoid anything that can allow someone to capture sound bites and take them out of context. Make sure that the story you are telling people is the same at all levels, no more or no less to any level.
If you would like help with developing your proactive strategy to change, please feel free to check out my website at https://tlgcoach.com or call me at 630-454-4821.
As a business coach, I am always open & excited to discuss building of a coaching based organization. I truly believe that companies who empower people will advance and flourish in this VUCCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic, Complex & Ambiguous) world we live in today?
As a leader, you must really be committed to providing a vibrant and engaged environment for your employees and customers to make coaching work. While there are still certain types of organizations that may require the old authoritarian structure, I believe most can benefit from a more flexible, flatter organization, especially in the long-term.
Today, I see companies paying lip service to leadership training and individuals ignoring the provided methods because they consider them antiquated and outdated. It’s time for 21st Century concepts be applied to leadership development. Commitment is critical for growth..
Where do you stand on this subject. Are your giving it lip service or are you intentional and proactive in making these priorities in your company?
I challenge every company who is struggling with this issue to make it a topic of discussion in every meeting. Check out your competition and see what they are doing? Set the bar high for yourself and your employees and you will reap the rewards.
Here are 5 commitments that I believe are critical, if you want your company to grow and prosper:
John Maxwell talks about building relationships, personally and in business, in every book he writes. Thousands of people buy his books and read them, yet we still suffer with a significant absence of depth and compassion in the subject, in business and personally. As John has said: “If you want to be significant and live a life that matters, you must add value to others.” This is at the core of Relationship Capital.
I think it’s time that we, in business, really examine this idea of the power of relationship management because as technology continues to advance rapidly, a direct result of this change is the reduced need for face to face interaction in business. Without this interaction we are losing a significant amount of a valuable intangible asset called Relationship Capital.
In 2015, and I don’t think 2017 is much different, a HCI Survey examined the top five priorities for HR groups, the results were as follows:
1. Employee Engagement
2. Succession Planning
3. Managers as a coach, Coaching Culture
4. Performance Management
5. Workforce Planning
There is really no question that engagement will remain a #1 concern. Recent studies have indicated that 87% of companies consider “culture and engagement” top priorities. This focus is very unlikely to change, given that most everyone recognizes that engaged, committed employees are the primary core of today’s workplace success.
12 Reasons for the Elusiveness of Employee Engagement
As a disruptive executive coach I am often asked what that entails. I usually give them the high level response that indicates a system may be broken and we need some radical ideas of how to fix it. There may be, however, many reasons or contradictions that seem to stand in the way of resolving the issue. One version of disruptive thinking would be to apply TRIZ to the situation. If we follow the TRIZ idea that someone somewhere has solved the problem in some way before, all we need to do is find that solution then adapt it to our needs and make it a unique solution.
All successful businesses, regardless of what they do or sell, have one thing in common: their leaders know how to build and maintain relationships. Let’s face it, relationships are the glue that holds a company culture together and ensures customer satisfaction is paramount. We can also refer to this as relationship capital, which as its name implies is an asset for your company that should be treasured, nurtured and grown.
10 steps to build a relationship capital rich company
Developing relationship capital should be a personal and intentional activity for all employees, not just the leaders. It is a known fact that people will buy from people and firms they Know, Like and Trust so when your culture is ingrained with an attitude of earning relationship capital then it is easy for other relationships to flourish.
Too often leaders get caught up in the details of the products or services they are selling to notice how critical it is to build and maintain relationships, not just with customers but also with vendors, colleagues, and even competitors. Without strong, agile, relationships, it is impossible to have a sustainable, successful enterprise.
How many times have you known someone within your company that had a lot of influence over decisions even though they had no title? I have known several and have recognized their immense value to the company. These people can influence and energize others without relying on a formal position in the organization to do so.
If you own a business today and you want it to be around for a long time, you need to spend at least 33% of your time (my number) innovating. In our hyper-connected, fast-moving world, where people expect things to get better, cheaper and more environmental friendly, sustaining innovation is your route to getting ahead of your competition.
Here are 8 suggestions that can put new vitality into your company through innovation.