Why The Human Element Matters in Business
Organizations benefit when employees are able to speak their minds. When employees feel safe and comfortable voicing their opinions, suggestions, concerns, even complaints, they feel more open and willing to invest in their work and relationships. This openness creates an environment where more ideas are shared, promoting innovation, effective communication and helping organization predict potential threats or problems in advance.
Unfortunately, this is not how most organizations operate, where most people hold back saying the things that they are truly thinking. Here are a few examples. A new project is initiated by top management; and it needs to be initiated by the team leader and implemented by the team. Deep inside the team leader does not want to implement the new project because they do not believe in it and in many cases feel it is the wrong thing to do. The same thing is happening with the team; there is no trust or buy-in, so they are dragging their feet. If one could look into the minds of the leader and team, they might find thoughts/self-talk like:
So in the end, the team leader decides to implement the plan without really being behind it, explaining to the team members that it just has to get done. In the process, it is becomes clear that to the project was implemented because the boss insisted, not because the leader wanted to do it.
There are examples of this behavior everywhere because most people have good social and psychological reasons for avoiding sharing their opinions. This is part of life. People want to be polite and nice; they want to avoid difficult communications, conflicts or underlying personal issues.
The Cost When People Don’t Work Well Together
From an organizational point of view, there are many costs when people avoid conflict or difficult conversation. Here are some examples of the costs organizations have to pay, they: lose opportunities to nurture innovative ideas; become less effective at solving problems; often even lose focus on critical organizational goals. Another insidious cost is that this “culture of avoidance” may become the default/dominant organizational culture, causing a huge losses to the organization over time. Many scandals have come out recently exposing how organizations systematically covered up issues for years only to have them come out and destroying the organization’s long-standing credibility and plunging its stock valuation.