A former colleague told me recently about a corporate meeting. At a certain point he spoke up, saying “What is happening here? What are we doing here? I don’t feel that this is an answer to the concerns of our employees.” He expressed his feeling in an authentic way. He made himself vulnerable. The outcome was as to be expected: he got some support, but at a certain moment someone pushed the button for the next slide and the show went on. No feelings or real dialogue allowed. Sounds familiar?
This is how it works in most larger organizations. We put on our professional masks, present to impress and deal only with our own work to be done. The higher in the organization, the more impersonal working together becomes. On the record we try to shine, follow the agenda’s and rules, and report without showing emotions. Off the record… Well, we don’t know most of the time how people are off the record. Even at informal moments we stay alert for not saying anything that could harm our professional armor.
At the same time, no one doubts the relevance of relations in obtaining results. HR knows all about the secret of high performance teams and cultures. Internal communication wants to touch the heart of the people. Senior managers lead by meeting colleagues and clients informally or behind closed doors. Change and project managers organize kick offs, short ski’s or celebration moments to commit their teams. Managers care as much as possible for the persons behind the functions.
But still, so much people get killed or missed in action by Powerpoint. And cultural change or leadership development programs seem to bring so little relief.