Jo Geraghty


Your agenda is killing your business

Date added: 21st Nov 2016
Category: Organisational Culture Change

What happens when self-interest & a personal agenda are put before the best interests of the business - organisational culture fails - customer service fails..

I meant it for the best: the six words which tell anyone listening that you have really got it wrong this time.  Not only that, the fact that you are reverting to that time worn phrase means that you are still trying to justify your actions instead of facing up to them.

It doesn’t really matter who suffered because of your action (customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers or others), the fact is that you failed to anticipate or fully explore the potential consequences of your decision. In your defence, if you really did mean it for the best then at least you were trying to do something positive. So you may have suffered a lapse of judgement but in all honesty that is something which happens to all of us from time to time. It is time now to forget justification and start apologising, make redress and take steps to ensure that lessons have been learnt. It is time to take this as a learning point and move on.

However, there are times in business when actions and decisions aren’t simply a matter of a lapse in judgement, times when a personal agenda and blatant self-interest ride roughshod over what is right. These are the times when individuals make decisions for personal gain irrespective of the effect on the business or on those involved in and around it. These the times when I meant it for the best is at best a hollow distortion of the truth. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • The reflected glory seeker. This is the individual or executive team who sees a chance to do business with a prestigious or well-known organisation or individual. They will do anything they can to secure the contract even if that means overpromising on performance, cutting margins and putting pressure on staff to prioritise this one contact ahead of service to other more loyal customers. They may bask in the reflected glory of securing the contract but in the process they leave a trail of disengaged employees, dissatisfied customers and a significant negative impact on the bottom line.
  • The promotion seeker. This is the individual who sees promotion as their right and doesn’t mind who they trample on to get there. The take every chance to promote how well their team is doing whilst at the same time talking down others in the organisation. They are not afraid to put extreme pressure on their people not just to deliver but over deliver on targets, ignoring the fact that by doing so they are actually hampering the smooth running and long term development of the organisation.
  • The my agenda first individual. This person may well sit at executive level or at least have some form of leadership position within the organisation. They will nod in agreement when the strategy is discussed but then carry on exactly as before. This is the individual who may well agree to an empowered and innovative culture change but who then continues to run their department in a hierarchical and siloed manner. This is the individual who may well agree to a significant change of direction in order to enhance customer service but who then refuses to allocate the required resources.

We could go on but you’re probably starting to get the picture. Quite simply, when self-interest and a personal agenda are put before the best interests of the business then one person may have a short-term gain but in the long run everyone loses. What price personal glory when your customers are deserting in droves, your employees are so disengaged they might as well not be there, your investors are melting away and your suppliers put you right at the bottom of the priority chain.

Leadership, true leadership, means putting aside the self and making decisions which really are in the best interests of the organisation and those who depend on it. When you mean it for the best just stop and have a think first about who’s best you are aiming at.

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