In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” its international word of the year. In a new world order where politicians openly propagate “alternative facts” when the truth doesn’t fit their desired narrative, it’s hardly surprising that people are becoming more cynical and disengaged than ever.
But politicians aren’t the only ones at fault - organisations can fall into the post-truth trap at times too.
The post-truth organisation
Unwilling or unable to involve people in an authentic corporate narrative, organisations often push out propaganda that reflects a distorted version of reality. Statistics lost in spin often reveal a corporate “truth” that fails to recognise the reality that employees are experiencing day-to-day.
The result? Instead of feeling involved, people check-out because their experiences feel unrecognised, invalidated.
Personal experience will trump statistics every time. In the post-truth crisis statistics are widely discredited. People respond to qualitative evidence, to stories, to photographs, to experiences that they can witness with their own eyes, feel with their own hearts.
So what can be done?
So what can we do as leaders of teams and organisations to involve people in the creation of narratives in which they feel like an active participant, rather than an ill-fitting statistic?
We need to be encouraging story sharing at every level of an organisation, and we need to pay attention to what people are saying. Not only does it drive engagement, it’s also a rich source of management information that can effectively inform future strategy – the people at the coalface understand better than anyone the impact of decisions made at board level, and they’ll help you identify and overcome the bottlenecks and blockers to productivity.
So let's get people talking, sharing their stories and see the effect that feeling heard and empowered has on them – and on the bottom line.