What do you do when the values, the culture, or the (new and improved!) strategy of your organization aren’t translating into the behaviors you’d like to see? What steps do you take when the shifts in thinking and action that you worked so hard to develop aren’t visible in how people show up every day?
Often, when a message isn’t resulting in visible change, it’s tempting to rewrite or to double underline the message. A diagnosis of a communications failure means that it’s time to communicate more and better – to shout more loudly clearly until the message lands.
But what if something else is going on?
There’s a theory that each and every organization is perfectly aligned to deliver exactly the results that it wants to deliver. Not the results (and accordant behaviors) it says it wants, but the results it actually wants.
Under this view, it’s not that people aren’t hearing the message. Rather, they are attuned to multiple messages on multiple levels, and the messages that are landing the most are the ones that are 100% aligned with the way they’re behaving today.
If this is what’s happening, then shouting louder accomplishes nothing. Indeed, it could feed a credibility gap if you insist you want a set of thing but your day-to-day actions, policies, or language express something else.
The bigger lift is to look in the mirror and ask if the new message is true:
Where do we talk about a set of values but fall short of demonstrating them?
Where do we espouse that we want to see a set of behaviors and then fail to support the people who try to demonstrate them?
Where do we come up short in living the message?