Whenever you meet employees across levels – CXOs to front-line employees and engage them in conversations about culture and climate, they are likely to bring up several issues which might sound like dissonances – between what they see as reality and what is the intent.
I have found it useful to take an empathetic view to these voices of dissonance rather than see them as cynicism. I see it as the dilemmas that organizational men and women face on a daily basis about what I call “dishonesties of organizational life”.
Yes. On an everyday basis, someone or the other will be inclined to see an organization they are working in as “dishonest”.
So, let me define what I specifically mean by dishonesty in this context. To me dishonesty is the dissonance between what an organization espouses and what it actually does. This could be their values, their published culture, their brand promise, their vision and so on.
Let me give an example or two. An organization might genuinely want to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. They may be committed to it and constantly talk about it. However, some of their policies may not promote risk taking or some of their leaders may themselves be risk averse. So, in the eyes of many employees, there might be a “dishonesty”.
Similarly, many organizations claim to be “employee first”. They genuine believe in it and do a lot to embrace this. They have several policies and programs to take affirmative action in this area. But the experiences of employees in some parts of the organization may be contrary.
The truth is that even the best of organizations are unlikely to be able to stay 100% true to everything they espouse at all times in all situations and with all people. That is a myth.
However, the ability to accept this reality is a necessary condition for one to remain at peace and stay productive in an organization.
I will now come to the phrase “allowable”. Allowable to me means those inevitable shortcomings despite good intentions which are within acceptable limits causing no moral and ethical harm of a willful nature. Just like human beings, organizations have frailties too.
Many of us are able to live in peace with these allowable dishonesties of organizational life while continuing to do our bit to make things better and reduce the gaps. Others maybe end up feeling miserable, become cynical and even turn activist in their views, expecting a somewhat unreal and idealistic world.
The best way to deal with this is to ask oneself about the dishonesties in our own ways of living which we consider allowable!
Like individuals, organizations could also do with some empathy, forgiveness and mercy. Once we do that, we can be at peace and productive.
What do you think?