How Intra-organizational Information Sharing and a Culture of Accountability can Drive Growth

Last week was a reflective one deliberating with my team, colleagues and friends working with different organizations and teams on corporate dynamics. The focus of our discussions to a great extent have been on the performance of different companies with regard to the abilities and perspectives of the very employees of these corporations. At an individual level, the constant was that each individual felt their company could do better than they were doing. On further probing, these associates had ideas on some initiatives and activities that if adopted would lead to the success of the organization. Unfortunately, these ideas which are almost no-brainers to these associates have never been shared with management or any members of the team who would put these insights to great use. When asked why, almost each of these individuals pointed to the fact that they believe the individuals know about these but are not doing anything about them or are just so preoccupied with other things that they don’t get to the basics.

Following these discussions, it dawned on me that to an extent corporations are struggling not because of the challenging dynamics of the market in which they operate but rather because they are not tapping into the ingenuity of their people which got me reading on the topic. In this article, I am going to discuss some of the hurdles corporations are facing, ideas on how to address them and institutionalize the approaches that will ensure continued improvement in their management models.

First thing that was clear is that often times associates working in different functions are more focused on doing their work that they don’t have the opportunity to interface with other functions, understand how they support the overall organizations agenda. With such employees execute tasks, they don’t manage projects. In principle, project management view would help employees comprehend what success is or looks like with a high level view of what their contribution is and what it should be. Without this view often times, employees perform at their most primordial level not pulling their weight towards the success of the organization. There is limited to zero sense of accountability for the success of the organization. Their interventions become checkbox initiatives rather than impactful/transformational tasks that lead to the ultimate goal of the organization. In a checkbox intervention, the aim is to have it done regardless of the outcomes. This shouldn’t be the case.

Detachment from the overall organization has become a norm in certain circles where employees especially junior employees don’t consider themselves part of the larger organization. They therefore instead of contributing their perspectives and helping shape the trajectory of the institution, they play small and occupy the junior league as a birth-right. Not only does this suffocate the organization but also curtails the growth of the very associates as they stop exerting themselves to drive value.

Grandiose pronouncements from management and blubbers on the greater vision without guiding frameworks on what needs to be done, how it should be done and who will be responsible rather than inspire associates and teams, breed confusion. Often times aimed at inspiring and motivating teams, these end up confusing teams with most of the best people seeing through the corporate-lingo. Unfortunately, the cost is that they stop focusing on what they believe should be done but rather sustain the same vibe of but falsely so. Additionally, in most cases these lack the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to guide teams. They are never measured, monitored and reported but stay in slides and pitch decks which do not translate to any feasible outcomes. Whoever coined “Death by PowerPoint” would have done a better job if they focused on how fancy PowerPoints kill organizations by projecting plausible narratives which are not backed by action or performance metrics.

In other instances, I noted that individuals have different perspectives which contribute to their view on the overall performance, dynamics and interventions that need to be instituted in the organizations. However, it was also clear that in most of these cases, the individuals with the information didn’t know what to do with it. By not knowing what to do with the information, there is little chance it will ever be put to good use. In other cases, there were individuals seeking for information which they didn’t know how to get or make sense of. Unfortunately, due to the siloed approach to corporate work environments these people never interface hence their value is never realized. In one of my earlier articles here, I argued for the power of cross-pollinator sites in the form of co-working spaces and community centers. Unfortunately, these are still not mainstream and even where it’s not about remote work, corporations are not harnessing the potential in their employees.

Looking at these observations, I believe that to realize and harness the potential of each individual, corporations will need to promote intra-organizational knowledge sharing with cross-functional meetings, ideation labs, design-thinking and troubleshooting workshops to ideate around their business models, sales performances and efficiency bottlenecks. Additionally, corporate cultures need to and must transition from fancy narratives to real accountability & genuine commitment to success of the companies & employees. Finally, individuals will have to be open to feedback, commit to excellence in their jobs, stay accountable for the organization and share insights across the teams to help the organization succeed. We have to start envisioning ourselves as mini-representations of the companies we work for. How we portray ourselves to the world is exactly what and who our companies are? Do we love it or do we wish it were different? Depending on how you responded to this, you need to act.

Our professional success and fulfillment is closely linked to the success of the companies we work for and we therefore need to see it as such.

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