Four Ways to Escape From a CYA Culture
Date: July 26th, 2012
Blog Post by Scott Seroka
CYA – We all know what it means. People are so afraid of getting in trouble with their peers or managers that they save miles of email trails as if preparing for a future court case. Some even hang on to saved voice mail messages just in case the finger of blame shifts in their direction. And it’s not that surprising when you consider that our economy is still under construction and people are still afraid of, and at risk of losing their jobs – even the top-performers.
When problems arise today, it seems as if much more time is wasted trying to determine who in particular is to blame rather than investing that time to identify the source of those problems and finding solutions.
So what did we do before email and voicemail? How did we get to the bottom of problems and issues without presenting our evidence? We collaborated. We had conversations. We were forced to work together as teams to uncover the sources of problems, identify the weaknesses, talk through what went wrong and why and subsequently redesigned systems to ensure similar occurrences wouldn’t take place. And we were able to go through the entire problem-solving process much faster because we didn’t need to pore over 18-page email trails from four different people who served as their own defense attorneys in front of the boss.
Email and voicemail is here to stay, yet as a manager, there are things you can do to reverse your CYA culture and foster one of mutual trust and improved communication:
1) Limit the use of email to communicate figures and facts. Email is a great tool for keeping a record of data – it’s a lousy tool for conversation. It’s the reason people misinterpret (often for the worse) what senders say, as email fails to communicate body language and other non-verbal communication cues.
2) Get up and walk around. Talk with people and look them in the eyes – it is the quickest and easiest way to build rapport and trust.
3) For those who work remotely or in different locations, take advantage of technology such as Skype, GoToMeeting or FaceTime and have conversations through the cameras on laptops, tablets and even phones. It’s amazing how much the eyes reveal in conversation.
4) When problems arise, call a meeting and tell everyone to keep the email trails in their office. Keep the focus on uncovering the source of the problem and coming up with solutions. Trust that non-performers, slackers and excuse-makers are much more easy to identify in conversation than through reading miles of emails.
Leadership skills and people skills are synonymous. The best way to build those skills is to create a culture around person-to-person, in-person communication. Place your focus on building relationships, establishing trust, and formulating productive, winning teams more interested in hitting goals and reaching milestones than covering their cabooses when something goes wrong.
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