Most company executives understand the importance of improving. Most people agree that the first step to launching an improvement strategy is to make sure the company executives are on board and leading the effort. If both of these statements are true, then why is it still so difficult to get buy in from the company leadership?
A few years ago, a CEO of a fairly large company asked for my help. “One of our company values is ‘teamwork,’” he said. “It is difficult to promote improvement and teamwork when my own staff does not act like a team.”
Later that month, I met with the CEO and one of his top executives (let’s call him Joe… not his real name) to plan a two-day workshop to help his staff understand what it takes to become a team. We began to review a proposed agenda when Joe noticed that a team-building exercise was included.
“Wait a minute. Why is there a team-building exercise on this agenda?” he asked. “You don’t understand. We are busy executives running a major company. We don’t have time for this nonsense!”
I closed my books and began to pack my computer bag. “I have worked with many groups over the years, and my approach is to do what is included on this agenda,” I said. “So, if there is no desire to put in the necessary work, then we are wasting each other’s time.” With that, I got up to leave.
The CEO stopped me and turned to Joe and said, “We will do everything on this agenda including the team-building exercise if that is what it takes to help us become a team.”
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