Home' HR Monthly : December 2018 Contents 14
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Given this line of thinking, when Lencioni
writes “being smart is only half the equation”
you might expect him to reference the
dichotomy between the head and the heart.
But that’s not him.
‘Being healthy’ finishes the equation, and
‘organisational health’ is the name of his
theory. The author’s choice of such dry terms
tells you a lot about his philosophy. L encioni
believes our emotions affect work, and that
they must be accounted for, but he doesn’t
aim for organisational happiness. His goal is
So yes, he has a book called Getting Naked,
and he deftly teaches readers the ins and outs
of vulnerability-based trust and personality
profiling. But another of his books is about
effective meetings – a romantic he is not.
“At its core,” Lencioni writes in The Advantage,
“health is about integrity, but not in the ethical
or moral way that integrity is defined so often
today. An organisation has integrity... when it is
whole, consistent and complete.”
He breaks it down into what you should see
in a healthy organisation. When talking to
clients, he presents it this way: “We help your
organisation have less politics and confusion;
higher degrees of morale and productivity;
more clarity and alignment; and you’re going
to keep your best employees.”
Lencioni points out that after he presents his
vision, “no executive says that’s touchy-feely”.
It’s the third time he’s used the phrase touchy-
feely. When asked why he’s at such pains to
avoid any hint of mawkishness, he says it’s the
only way to get executives over the line.
“If we say, ‘ I want to do team building with
you. I want to have a two-day offsite where
we’re going to talk about our team dynamics,’
it’s so easy for people to say, ‘Yeah listen,
we’ve got real work to do here.’ I like to tell
them we’re not going to hug, get naked, sing
songs, hold hands or anything like that.”
He says the most common objection to
cultural programs isn’t their cost; that’s
ranked a distant third among leaders’
concerns. Number one is that it’s a waste of
time. The second is that they’re going to lose
credibility among their team.
A key lesson Lencioni is eager to impart
to HR is the need to anticipate leadership
objections before presenting them with any
ideas. To do that you need to know what they
are. Just as importantly, you need to know
what questions you won’t be able to answer.
In our ever more data-driven world, HR has
been asked to track everything and provide
analytics to back up its proposals. Lencioni
agrees this is important, with a caveat.
“Something doesn’t have to be a metric to
be practical. Measurement is a tricky animal.
“Lots of executives say, ‘Tell me what
the ROI of this activity is.’ There’s nothing
wrong with responding, ‘Calculating the ROI
of this is really difficult. In fact, it might be
impossible. Because you can’t isolate any one
variable. But the ROI is massive nonetheless.’
“I’ve gone to CEOs and said, ‘If you ask me
to tell you exactly how much this clarity and
cohesiveness is going to affect your bottom
number. But I’d also be lying if I told you that
you’re not going to look at this six months
down the road and say, it changed everything.’
“It’s as if my wife said, ‘ What’s the ROI
of us improving our marriage? Will the kids’
grades be higher? Are we going to have a
better financial outcome?’” he says, laughing.
“Some things are so fundamental that
we have to do them because we know they
impact everything. A nd just because we
can’t accurately measure it, doesn’t mean we
shouldn’t do it. I say anticipate their objections
about that, and don’t be bashful.”
Answering the final question of our interview,
one about HR professionals in Australia,
Lencioni is true to form. He mixes poetic
sentiment with a plainspoken focus on business.
“This is golden era for HR, if they do it
right. If you really commit to saying, ‘I want
to help the leaders I work with make their
organisations healthier in a very practical
way,’ [HR professionals] can become such an
immensely valuable resource.
“But to do that they must be experts, and
they have to be unafraid.” •••
22/11/18 1:21 pm
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