The Truth Can Set Your Business Free
We recently ran across an interview with Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez in which he discusses his approach to solving problems in his business. What impressed us was the premium this leader of a very high tech pharmaceutical business put on ensuring his employees had both direction and freedom.
For him, goal setting is of primary importance. He understands the full embrace of a few simple, achievable goals is what drives a team, whether it’s five people on a basketball court, or 120,000 employees in a global business organization. In fact, the larger the organization, the more important it is to keep your goals simple. When it comes time to execute, complication will set in soon enough. But if you don’t start with a simple direction, you’re in for trouble.
When it comes to execution, he has learned the hard way that fear can be a manager’s worst enemy. As he puts it: “behavior is a function of consequence.” In other words, if people in your organization feel the consequences of delivering less-then-good news are greater than the consequences of sweeping it under the carpet, you have a problem. If people are afraid to tell you they’re missing their numbers, you can’t help them fix their numbers. It seems so simple, Likewise, some managers may be afraid to hear bad news. In the most successful organizations, “truthful behavior” extends up and down the ladder. This doesn’t mean there are no consequences for failure and success, but that the immediate reaction to bad news isn’t retribution. Instead, there should be a sincere effort to fix whatever problem has arisen. Once the entire organization understands that, the truth really does set you free. Indeed, the bearer of bad news may turn out to be the manager’s best friend, worthy of the words, “thank you.”