Their is a scurge enveloping businesses and organisations globally. I have named it “Corporate Haze” it’s fog-like creating a cloud of confusion and lack of clarity. It is indeed a scurge that reduces employee performance and engagement and creates a roller-coaster for those caught up in it.
My experiences in many organisations, developing valued leaders, always highlights one of the biggest impediments to better performance. It’s the apprehension and anxiety created through a lack of clarity and direction. It creates water cooler talk, rumours, gossip and innuendo. It becomes the focus and over-riding mindset of teams and employees.
How does Corporate Haze happen?
Leaders invariably wish to place their own stamp on organisations and this is one of the greatest cause of the haze. The higher the source of the haze, the greater the impact. Constant rounds of restructures, reshuffles and re-alignments are probably the greatest cause of the uncertainty that comes from the lack of direction. People become fearful and insecure and this impacts their output. If business as usual or change fatigue is part of the ongoing conversation in your business, it is likely that you are seeing the impacts of corporate haze.
Haze, while greatest when perpetrated at the highest levels, also impacts when a front line leader creates their own form of haze. This takes many forms with inability to align to strategy the main cause, but is also present in behaviours that build fear among their teams. Are you allowing corporate haze to exist in your business?
What does it matter? Many organisations use corporate haze as a strategy. To keep people on their toes and in their box. Others see it as a necessary cost of doing business. Different leaders want to put their stamp on a company and continually make the changes they want to see. A constant state of flux becomes the norm and with it that lack of clear direction they need.
Due to this, we see casualties.
The Casualties of Corporate Haze
- Employee Performance. Self-preservation is a basic behaviour that is present in all people and is one of the default behaviours exhibited in a company suffering from confusion and lack of clarity. Don’t stand out, don’t excel and only do what’s necessary becomes the standard of performance.
- Team Performance. Teams suffer badly in times of corporate haze. Staying under the radar is a dominating behaviour, and being protective of allocated resources is another. Teams under the spotlight, or the cause of rumour, struggle to perform to the standard expected, as the sense of needlessness or fear takes hold. The over-riding thought is one of survival and not of being exceptional.
- Customers and Clients. As the fog meanders through the organisation and impacts on our team and employees, it impacts on service delivery. Employees without clear direction for their own future, struggle to put that aside and deliver to the standards required for the customer. Best intentions will often provide a pass mark, but outstanding delivery ends up captured by the fog that exists.
Strategy and direction is important for businesses of all sizes. To have a clear vision drives alignment and engagement among your team. Building a culture of innovation and empowered change comes from creating growth within your teams.