It is common place for organization consultants to deal with the disconnect between the top layer of management and the rest of the organization.
This disconnect is characterized by a totally differing view of what is transpiring as well as what needs to be done to better cope with challenging external and internal realities.
Example: CEO Paul believes that the new software release must get to market within 3 months. His entire staff believes that nothing market-worthy can be developed in such a time frame and the minimal required time for development is half a year. CEO Fred believes that his sales force lacks motivation and has no passion to win whilst the Sales staff believes that Fred is out of his fucking mind and in total denial of product under-performance.
I have been lucky enough to have consulted many very senior managers of mid size and large size companies. Some of them have been very disconnected from what is going on in the trenches. I am sharing with you what I see as the major reasons why they appear to be disconnected.
- They feign to be disconnected but they are not. They know what is going on and want to squeeze the lemon as much as possible. Managers like this are very well paid and have a wonder golden parachute if they fail.
- They truly do not know what is going on because they manage by fear, and have surrounded themselves with staff who tell them what they want to hear.
- They are grossly incompetent and do not understand what is going on. Often it is hard to believe this when you see it, but it does happen and not infrequently.
- They come from the world of Sales, so the solution of problems is spin and more spin, and they believe in their own bullshit.
- They are ideological optimists who systematically ignore or pass over bad news.
- They believe that they know something that no one else knows, like “our competition is doing no better and we just need to outlast them”.
- They have political backing of the board, so that they can outlast most failures and push the blame to someone/something else.
Each type of disconnect has a different protocol for OD intervention, and on this will come further posts.
However, a word of caution to young optimistic consultants. Very often, if it looks and feels and smells like incompetence, it is. And this type of finding cannot be “od-ed” away.