Culture of Duz

A while back, Ester Derby posted in reaction to an email advert for a leadership workshop – about how to counter the “culture of entitlement”.

She reacted somewhat violently to “leaders are constantly frustrated” by this. She implied or stated that the leaders who are frustrated are somehow responsible for the culture.

So I have two reactions to her post – the first a “have you considered” that the leaders referred to may be many pay grades below the senior management level that value having the corporate logo on the “best places to work” list, HR policy makers that require months of high intensity documentation before they will consider a termination, and an IT staffing policy that has changed dramatically as work has moved offshore, and back onshore, and capital and expense budgets and policies have adjusted to regulatory and market changes.

As a non-manager leader, I have often been frustrated by the availability of willing and able resources on initiatives that I am driving, getting a “do the best you can with what we have available” from the staff manager.

As a manager of small teams, I have often been frustrated by a small percentage of staff members who accomplish just enough to avoid the bottom of the list, but are generally the most difficult to work with, and aggravate the remainder of the staff, while they are working the system for special accomodations. It is worse when there is a good ol’ boy network to which the individual is juiced into, being patronized by some mucky muck executive, 5 levels up and 3 organizations removed horizontally…

Ester, you say that all of this can be resolved by simple conversation and I agree, it is simply much harder than you may want to believe to determine who needs to participate in the conversation, let alone to get them to the table.

My second reaction is that each leader whether via influence from within a team, or from a position of authority contributes to the culture of the organization, and is in some way responsible for that culture. So as a leader, one must reasonably assess the capacity of people and what they might need to work up to their capacity or how they could expand their capacity. Having done this, we may be positionally able to direct them toward these goals, or work toward the same effect by earning their trust and using that as a lever of influence convince them to adopt these goals for their own benefit.

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