People often struggle to speak up, and that includes conversations of accountability. These are the conversations that close the gap between what we expect of each other and what we actually do.
The second virus causing accountability issues in our organisations is the Culture of Silence, and it’s characterised by avoidance and defensive routines.
People avoid confrontation at all costs, but when moments of accountability occur, they get defensive about what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing. They do this for a vast array of reasons that are completely understandable, but deeply ineffective.
This virus isn’t limited to the workplace. We also see it in our families.
It’s normal, natural, and understandable, but it’s also ineffective and it drastically diminishes our ability to influence.
Here’s the unwritten rule of a Culture of Silence: “We value harmony over results.”
It’s not that harmony or results are bad things, but the real question here is, “Can we have both in our organisations?”
Can we intentionally pursue the results we want WHILE having those tough conversations that respect and enhance the relationship?
When you have harmony AND results in an organisation, two things happen.
1. When someone says they’ll do something, they can be depended on.
2. When someone doesn’t deliver, then they step up to have the conversation.
The greatest form of accountability is not when you hold someone accountable for their failure to act, but it’s when they knowingly step up to accountability with integrity.
Commitment-based cultures are much more effective and less expensive than compliance-based cultures.
You’ll get the greatest level of engagement and discretionary effort from your people when you create conditions that drive commitment rather than compliance.
Research To Consider
One of our research studies that looked at the role of silence in projects and strategies was The Silence Fails Research.
We found that 85% of project managers said they received projects they believed were designed to fail.
Have you ever experienced that feeling? That the project you were handed was destined for failure or mediocrity?
We’ve all been there at one point or another.
In this study, though, we found that only 14% of those project managers felt they could actually speak up and have tough conversations with their managing director.
That’s a huge gap!
In health-care, we found that 82% of nurses say they have a dangerously incompetent colleague! This set of behaviours can actually cause death. For more on this, check out our Silence Kills research.
The statistics are staggering. Only 21% of those nurses said they could speak up to that colleague.
This virus, the Culture of Silence, creates gaps in our organisations that have enormous consequences when left unaddressed.