10 Employee Conversations That Are Killing Your Business

Reputation is everything in business. Generally, the business world consists of a network of interrelated conversations. Your company is a microcosm of that network, says Daniel F. Prosser, author of THIRTEENERS: Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy–and How Yours Can Be One of Them.

The conversations that take place between your team members are incredibly important, says Prosser. “Words are far more powerful than most people realize.”

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As a leader, you may make bold, optimistic statements about your company and its future. But what if your employees are engaging in negative conversations? “Bitter complaints, criticisms, and cynical rants full of victim-y-self-pity and anger. All of these conversations create a sense of unconscious disconnection in the workplace and create dis-empowerment among the workforce,” Prosser explains.

“Unfortunately, I’ve learned that the conversations in nearly 90% of companies are limiting, and they undermine and sabotage your company’s performance,”adds Prosser. “Most of these conversations aren’t visible to leaders. Yet they go viral throughout an organization, kill morale, prevent engagement, and slow productivity to a crawl.”

Here, Prosser spotlights 10 performance-killing conversations your employees may be having without your knowledge. This is why your employees can’t, or are unwilling to, execute your company’s strategy.

1. “It’s not our strategy.” If this conversation is continuously taking place in your organization, it may mean that your employees feel they have no say in decisions regarding the direction of your company and have, therefore, disconnected themselves from its future.

You do all the planning and demand a certain result. They do all the work and you get all the credit. Would you be motivated or feel included if you were in their shoes? Prosser instructs: “Ask them for their insights and opinions regarding the path of your company, and how they see themselves fulfilling their roles. Allow people to contribute, ask questions, and even disagree with you. This gives them a way to invest in what they’re working toward and gives real meaning to their work”, he explains.

2. “They don’t appreciate us.” Some leaders think, ‘my employees get a paycheck and that ought to be enough acknowledgment and appreciation.’  But your employees may still feel exploited, says Prosser, and from there it’s a short step to becoming actively resentful of management for not recognizing their contribution to the organization’s success.

As a leader, you may not feel comfortable acknowledging or expressing appreciation for an employee,” notes Prosser.  But get over yourself. “It can cost you big-time not to have that conversation. It costs you nothing to appreciate and acknowledge the contribution of others,” he adds.

3. “They’re always making excuses.” Employees learn from their leaders. When leaders make excuses,  blame peers and team members, or cite circumstances beyond their control as reasons for failing to deliver, they evoke the same behavior from their employees, says Prosser. This produces a business culture in which strategies, plans, and intentions disappear soon after they are agreed to, and teams quickly fall back into business-as-usual behavior.

4. “No one holds management accountable.” As Prosser points out, “Honestly–how comfortable would you be calling your own boss on the carpet? You’ll have to attack this Execution Virus starting with YOU. No more excuses. It’s time to become publicly accountable for your own results–the good and the bad. You’ll find that your people are much more willing to follow a fallible leader with integrity than a ‘perfect’ leader who constantly passes the buck.”

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