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Behind the shiny veneer

Blair McPherson - Former Director, Author and Blogger

We’re all on first name terms with the Bosses. The organisation claims to treat the workforce like family. The organisation wins a lot of awards, Best Places to work, Equal Opportunities Employer, Investors in People, Family Friendly Work Place. But below the surface all is not what it seems. People who don’t fit in don’t last long.

Disgruntled ex-employees claiming constructive dismissal are simply bought off before they ever reach a tribunal that is if they have the confidence, support and wherewithal to initiate proceedings. Sexism and casual racism are modelled from the top. Everyone in HQ jokes about the senior manager who likes his PA’s young and blond and why they never stay long.

One disgruntled employee referred to the management style as, ‘ paternalistic’ they took that as a compliment!

The organisation points to its successful year on year performance figures as evidence of a happy and productive workforce. What most people outside of the performance team don’t know is that the relevant Director “rounds up “ the annual returns to ensure the performances figures are always better than the year before never worse. A modest improvement nothing too dramatic that would attract attention. When challenged by a new to post member of the team the justification was ,” to give a truer picture and reflect the effort everyone has put in”.

The organisation is in line for another award. We have all had the motivational speech from the Chief Executive prior to the judges site visit. The message was clear show the organisation in the best possible light.

How would you go about changing this unhealthy corrupt organisational culture with it’s inappropriate management style? How would you wean the organisation off its unhealthy  addiction to external validation?

My suggestion to any chief executive or leader of the board inheriting such a culture would be that HR could help. Starting with

Exit interviews
Whistle blowing hot line
Face the facts survey -the real numbers
Staff satisfaction survey (anonymous)
Focus groups
Management development
External mentoring

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