The Dirty Work of Double Agents

May 1st, 2012  | 

Published in Organization Health

In your battle of the bottom line, there are double agents inside your organization working against you.

These modern-day Benedict Arnolds are undermining organizational and individual effectiveness.

And like any savvy double agent, the ones inside your organization can be hard to spot. That’s why I provided clues in last month’s bulletin to help you identify these saboteurs (see The 12 Culture Crashers).

When you take a close look at the people on your payroll, you’ll likely find many of your people making promises they don’t keep.

That’s what makes them double agents. They’re saying one thing and doing another.

Unlike a fictional James Bond or real-life Mata Hari, the double agents inside your organization probably aren’t passing trade secrets to your competitors (although it’s been known to happen).

The double agents inside your organization are blowing up your plans to perform at a high level. They’re trading profitability for cost over-runs. They’re substituting productivity with wasted time. And they’re sabotaging morale.

Broken promises reflect your culture

Every organization I’ve ever worked with – profit and not-for-profit – has cited the pursuit of customer satisfaction as one of the by-products of the organization’s ability to deliver on its promises. There’s often a “Whatever it takes” mindset that comes into play. That’s the promise you and your company make to your customers and prospective customers OUTSIDE the company.

While those promises are not always kept, there’s a bigger problem. And this bigger problem is the by-product of your double agents. Promises being made INSIDE the company – deadlines, commitments, agreements that colleagues make to one another – are being broken every day.

When promises are broken, it’s an accountability issue. Somebody has dropped the ball somewhere. And somebody else – perhaps you – has allowed that behavior to repeat itself. When promises are broken again and again, that behavior becomes the default culture of your organization. As a leader of your organization, you may be unwittingly creating a culture of double standards rather than a culture of accountability.

To assess your organization’s culture, you’re invited to take the free, 10-minute accountability survey. Just click here. This free survey is a $100 value I’m making available through the end of the month. Once you’ve completed the assessment, you’ll immediately receive a brief summary of the findings. If you indicate that you’d like to receive a more detailed report containing specific recommended action to take to improve your organization’s performance – another free report plus a free tool – this report will follow within a couple of days.

In my May 11 webinar – Keeping Commitment in the Organization: Are We Two-Faced? – we’ll examine three of the most significant and puzzling paradoxes of business that undermine leaders’ ability to achieve high levels of performance.

We’ll provide insight to help you identify opportunities for improving accountability and the results you’re getting.

The dirty work of double agents is happening because you and your colleagues are allowing it to happen.

If 007 has a license to kill, remember that you’re giving the double agents inside your organization a license to steal time, money and momentum – right before your very eyes.

About the Author: Greg Bustin is an executive coach, consultant and speaker who has delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. Greg advises leaders at some of the world’s most admired companies, and his views about leadership have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, Leader to Leader, and other major publications. He’s written five leadership books. His newest book, How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices (Sourcebooks), examines decision-making in history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies. How Leaders Decide

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