Donkeys learn 34 times faster than horses, according to recent research, and it is interpreted that their erratic compliance is directly tied to the level of trust that they are able to place on the source of those demands. It appears that donkeys are incredibly perceptive, and they decide early on in their interactions with humans, whether there is consistency and reliability in the behavior of their owners. Mixed messages yield non-compliance and non-compliance is interpreted as obstinacy. Message to the owners: They are not stubborn - they just don't trust you.
Why does this matter?
Runaway project scope and schedule, middle management independent governance, insufficient risk mitigation, and employee dissatisfaction are disparate organizational problems that often have a common and contributing source of contention. Such source is likely related to upper management's mixed messages, absence of accountability, and lack of clarity with regards to purpose and expectations - not to mention a mechanism for consistent and meaningful communication.
Are you the donkey or the owner?
Let's imagine for a moment that the organization is the owner, and the culture of such organization is the donkey.
If you are knowingly or unknowingly contributing to the culture of stubbornness in your organization, give yourself a chance to communicate misalignments in a practical, clear, and logical fashion, allowing for your audience to visually understand the consequences of everyone's actions.
If you are the bestower of confusion amongst the ranks, pause and trace your steps between the vision of the organization that you lead, and the bottom line procedures and practices in place. Do all the steps serve to fulfill that vision? Are you being unmistakably clear about your expectations, while leading them by example?
Productivity in the ranch
From baby boomers to millennials, everyone in the workforce understands the value of reliability, dependability, clarity, responsibility and accountability - across cultures. Whether liked or not, these values are understood and respected for what they are when seen in action. Fortunately, these are not difficult traits to implement in your organization today. What is required is a lot of honesty, humility to acknowledge, and a strong desire to overcome the shortcomings.
Let's work towards a making trustworthy owner, and a remarkably smart, trusting donkey.
Paola Saibene, CEO of TXYSAI - Management Consulting - www.txysai.com Paola has worked as a CIO, CTO, CSO, & COO in mid to large organizations.