“I’m from corporate and I’m here to help.” John Strahm, president and CEO of Eastway Behavioral Healthcare, told me he’s heard that this phrase is one of the world’s three biggest lies.
Strahm’s point was that he tries to help, not hinder, the nonprofit’s remote locations by giving them a degree of autonomy. But like all good jokes, there is an element of truth to it.
Is that really necessary?
Perhaps “I’m from corporate and I’m here to help” should be a screen for corporate directives and regulations.
How often do employers come up a new rule, based on the behavior of one or a few employees, rather than just dealing directly with those individuals? Is it easier to change the handbook, rather than confronting the situation head on? And does that really make it the best course?
Successfully managing conflict is something the best business leaders do, and sometimes that means having an uncomfortable meeting or confrontation.
From the bottom up
While the C-suite sets the company vision, it’s also your job to keep asking how you can make everyone else’s job easier. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Wouldn’t it be great if every meeting with your boss began with, “How can I help you?” rather than “Here’s what I need you to do now.”
For example, if you know the methodology for improving a process, showing up to straighten it out won’t go over well unless you first take time to get to know the process, and most importantly the people associated with it. If you build a relationship with these process owners, they feel like they’re part of the solution.
At the same time, corporate needs to set an example, in order to build a strong team. If the company is cutting costs, be seen visibly doing the same thing. Fly commercial. Bring a brown bag lunch. Don’t keep talking about the amazing vacation you just had in Europe.
And on the subject of setting an example, don’t miss our Uniquely Columbus on Motts Military Museum, a Groveport jewel that is preserving U.S. military history and memorabilia.