Try for a minute to forget everything you think is true about the world of work. For example, here are some things you may hear often that are simply not true:
- Giving and getting feedback is important.
- Effective leadership is critical to your company.
- Your organization’s culture is the key to its success.
- Strategic planning is essential.
- Your weaknesses need to be improved.
These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. However, on The Small Business Radio Show this week, Ashley Goodall, the author, of “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World” with Marcus Buckingham, sets the record straight through lessons from the real world that help teams thrive and that make work a more human place.
Lies About Work
Ashley disagrees with many of principles in business that we accept as true and gives an alternative call to action:
1. People really don’t need feedback to thrive. Ashley says people react badly to the expression “I have some feedback for you.” As a result, it seems very threatening and their brains go into fright and flight mode. He believes we really learn by making our own connections on what works for us. Ashley continues by advising that “instead of using feedback, use the word reaction. Be an observer of someone’s behavior, not just a critic of it. When people do things well, find out how they did it and how they can do more.”
2. Your organization’s culture is not a simple key to its success. Ashley repeats that all company cultures say the same thing. For example, we are innovative, people are our most important asset, and we are compassionate. As a result, he believes that if culture was so critical to success, the descriptions of these cultures from companies would be different but they are not. Ashley explains that “what determines an employee’s experience everyday is not the culture of the entire company, but the people on the team that they are on inside that company. This means we have to spend a lot more time on local team experiences, not the entire company.”
3. Strategic planning is not essential. Ashley says the better the plan the worse it is for the company because by the time it is finished, the world has changed. Instead he advises to “think of planning of a top down exercise and give the teams the information they need to determine the right actions based on what they see on the front lines. Strategic plans emerge from intelligent teams that are empowered to make happen every day.”
4. Forget about trying to improve employee’s weaknesses. Ashley explains it’s a matter of priority. For example, hours are scarce for every leader and what is the best way to use them. He shows that research confirms “we grow in the areas where are our strengths are, not our failures. You need to help people understand what’s working and try to scale from there.”
5. Work life balance should not be a priority. Ashley believes life includes our work since they both contain good and bad experiences. He explains that “the categories should be love and loathe … we need to be more intelligent about weaving more things that we love everyday into our lives.”
Ashely says these lies about work are so pervasive because we mostly operate out of fear in business. As a result, we then believe unless we act from the top down, the company will fail. He continues to explain that “alot of what we do in companies is really to avoid failure, so we give heavy direction … this is different than from creating excellence and break throughs. You can’t coerce people to excellence, you only make space for them … so employees can make their own unique contributions.”
Listen to the entire interview on The Small Business Radio Show.
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