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Consistency in how we treat others

There is a well-known expression, “practice what you preach”, in other words be a good role model. Except that organisations don’t practice internally what they attempt to present to their customers. Under pressure in today’s environment, this inconsistency in how we treat others seems more evident.

As the recession grinds on in the UK (they are calling it “flatlining”, but growth has not recovered to pre-crash levels), there are more reports of the atmosphere within many organisations, which in one media source was described as “seething resentment”. It’s difficult changing jobs and in a sense the power balance is more in the hands of bosses. Not that many well-run companies aren’t working their socks off to maintain engagement, knowing that a well-motivated team means better productivity and less stress. However, the temptation is for less people-orientated managers, and they do exist, to operate more from a command perspective and less from a buy-in approach, and to be less tuned into the feelings of their staff.

However the internal tensions have a way of seeping out. Certain psychologists call it leakage. It’s a bit like the passive aggressive style: people seem friendly or compliant, but you get the underlying hostile attitude. Walk round a well-known retail brand’s store and observe the staff. Watch the interchanges at check-out. Notice the body language. Retail are having a very tough time, and so this is one very visible area to see these tensions.

What I am getting at here is how we can be inconsistent in how we deal with people and need to be honest about it and address it. Yet so often in consultant mode I come across situations where the organisation tries to be one thing to their customers (eg be very caring), and yet treat their own internal relationships very differently. What is likely in this scenario is that the real model, what’s going on internally, will seep through and what the customers actually get is the hidden behaviour. To the sensitive, it is very hard to hide one’s inner state. And this also applies to organisations, which are of course simply groups of people.

There’s a good TV programme currently running, called “The Hotel“, which follows the actions of a very poor hotel manager in Torquay. There the seepage amongst the staff is at crisis proportions, even at reception! A shining example of how not to do it.

In relationships, a key aspect of growth and change is honesty, bringing out what is hidden and dealing with it. This is about working towards congruence, a consistency between how I feel internally, who I say I am, and how I am with others, what I feel, say and do, inner and outer alignment