It was the year of the “polar vortex,” the year when a remarkably cold winter struck North America. Just my luck. I was new to Washington, D.C., wearing everything I owned and naively walking to work at minus 15 degrees Celsius, listening to the radio and focusing on keeping my limbs warm. Only three more blocks to go.
Then the 8 a.m. news bulletin opened with the results of a “confidential” employee engagement survey of the organization I was working for at the time. The employee dissatisfaction rumor mill had moved its complaints from the HR office to the press room and back. My PR-expert persona discovered a newfound respect for the isolated internal comms team.
I walked two more blocks and thought: Somebody didn’t do their homework. To this day, it’s clear to me that somebody let the functional walls get in the way of the organization’s success. Who dropped the ball? If this were The Apprentice, who would you fire?
- The internal communication manager? Should they have stopped the leak of the employee engagement survey results?
- The press office, because they should have scorched the story?
- The HR team, because the buck stops with them?
My answer: the CEO.
Why? The organization was not built to deal with problems that cross the boundaries of the white space in the organizational chart. It was the fault of the old-fashioned, 20th-century, factory-minded structures that limit human ingenuity and our ability to set a goal, assess the problem and align the resources needed to get us past the finish line. In this instance, a group of highly qualified professionals were more incentivized to play “pass the parcel” than to solve the problem facing them....
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