Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Is Your Organization Rated R or PG-13?

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I was driving my pre-teen daughter to school this morning when it occurred to me to ask her to collect some data for me. I was wondering about how her friends would characterize their lives. Would they say that they live a G, PG, PG-13, or R rated lives? Given the circle of friends my daughter hangs out with I was expecting a G or PG rating to emerge. What I got instead was a rolling of the eyes and a “oh…dad”, telling me that I was not going to get any data at all.

I did start to think about organizations that I have knowledge of and came to the realization that various organizations could be given a rating in terms of the degree of civility and tone of their discourse and how they handle discussion leading to decision-making.

Now let me begin by saying that while organizations may vary by degree of formality of conversation, most are very civil places that encourage professional discussions to occur and disagreements to be aired, but there is some wiggle room in that civility. And some of that wiggle room may lead to higher organizational performance. I am of the mind that organizations should shoot for a PG-13 rating in their discussions to maximize a good airing of the issues and hopefully lead to higher performance. If organizational discussions hover around G you would have to wonder if any real disagreements are aired, and if aired whether any real degree of emotional sentiment on the part of those who disagree with someone else would be expressed. A PG-13 rating would seem to lend itself to a good degree of decorum and civility but also to some bluntly honest conversation and disagreements without being abusive.

We all have heard of R rated organizations where people regularly go around saying #$&^@S! that, or !!&##@), and while I have to honestly say that I don’t care about the swearing, in fact I mostly don’t really even notice it, I know that others do. When I do notice it, my immediate thought is that I am listening to someone with an impoverished ability to express themselves and therefore they must resort to simple swearing to convey their emotions or depth of feeling about an issue. I can remember a meeting I was attending where the CEO of an organization decided to make a point by using some swearing, he sounded silly to me perhaps impoverished linguistically, but his senior managers who were also in the room were all atwitter at the chosen language. Ok, it was the mid-west, but still you would think that the management team would not be so reactive to a few chosen words.

I am going to try again, I am looking for some data. How would you characterize the discourse and discussions around decision-making in your organization? Would you give it a G, PG-13, or R rating?


© 2012 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.


Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

March 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

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