DILEMMA: When I look in the mirror I see a people-crazy world-class motivator with a talent for redefining markets. So how come my new HR director's staff opinion poll portrays me as a humourless paranoiac dinosaur?
ISSUES: Is the survey wrong? Are you really people-crazy or just driving people crazy? Was a broad cross-section of staff surveyed? Are the views unanimous, or is there a lot of variance? Have you taken any specific actions recently that might have biased the results? Understand the data and don't shoot the messenger. It's not 'his' survey. Maybe it's time to identify some of your own weak spots.
Let's assume you believe the data. Is this the first survey that's been done? Have there been other opportunities for staff to provide feedback?
And how were you planning to disseminate the results of the survey?
Does your top team share the views of the staff as a whole? If so, why haven't any of them hinted what they really think? Is it fear of you or fear of hurting your feelings? It's part of their job to make sure you know what employees are feeling. Perhaps you need a good mentor or non-exec.
What makes you think you're a great motivator? Is it what you do, or the way you do it? Why do staff think otherwise? Look through the verbatim quotes (anonymously) and find the specifics. Bear in mind that the moods and careless remarks of CEOs are often magnified and that what you say is not always what people hear. So be prepared for more surprises.
This is bound to be a blow to your self-confidence, even if you have tyrannosaurus-like skin. Look on this as a great opportunity to show that you can benefit from feedback. If you do, it will be very powerful when you then give others feedback.
How should you react to what you learn? Adapting is better than overreacting. A few self-deprecating remarks may help. But remember that if you're not naturally witty you won't turn yourself into Coco the Clown overnight.
- Don't panic, don't be defensive and don't overreact, however you may feel.
- Do listen, adapt your style and set yourself clear objectives.
- Thank the new HR director for holding up a mirror to yourself.
- Look forward to next year's survey.
- Finally, look good, you people-crazy person, you.