Do Executives “Get It?”

The other day I attended a seminar on the importance of corporate wellness programs, and the positive ROI that can be gained from their implementation.  To get to the seminar from the lobby, there were 2 choices – a flight of about 40 steps, or an elevator.  I took the steps, after all this was a seminar on “wellness”.  While walking up the steps, I noticed an elevator packed with “executives” from various local organizations with a line forming for the next ride.  I thought – “They’re attending a seminar on corporate wellness, and they can’t even walk up a flight of steps… they just don’t get it.”

So many times executives spout the importance of new initiatives like wellness programs, safety programs, or improvement projects like Lean, Six Sigma, etc.  They talk about how great they are and how everyone should embrace them so the company can improve, but when push comes to shove, their actions indicate they really don’t believe in them.  Instead of becoming a new way of operating the company, a true change in the company culture, it remains simply just a program to try to improve profitability, either through reduced healthcare costs in the case of wellness programs, or operating costs / revenue in the case of Lean/Six Sigma.  They “talk the talk” but can’t “walk the walk”.

When starting new initiatives it is essential to clearly understand the purpose – the reason why you are starting the initiative and be able to articulate it to every employee, board member and customer as needed.  Then comes the relentless constancy of purpose – which comes not only through articulating the purpose, but in living it.  And that’s hard because it means change – not just the organization changing, but personal change from the executive.  It requires constant re-evaluation and “looking in the mirror.”

So how do you “get it” – by getting up each day and asking yourself, “am I getting it?” then by going out a proving it in words and deeds.  Remember, actions speak louder than words.  So when implementing the new wellness program, next time, take the steps.

Let me know your thoughts!


4 thoughts on “Do Executives “Get It?”

  1. You are right on the mark about missing the opportunity to model the message. I think this goes well beyond new initiatives, and it’s always clear as to which executives “get it” and which don’t – simply look at the overall financial wellness of their organization, and the behavior of their employees when dealing with customers. It seems this is business/life 101, and yet so difficult to find.

  2. The great Dr. Drew has a line “You can’t give someone ‘get it'”.

    If people don’t get it, decide if it really matters or not. If you think it really matters and they don’t get it, then that’s a pretty clear indication that it’s time to look for better pastures. If it doesn’t matter, then don’t burn more calories on it then the executives who don’t care.

    If you burn more calories on it then they do, that’s your problem, not their problem.

    Love ya man,


  3. I think this is about an in-process measure of the wellness program and management system. When you have in-process measures that indicate the system is not performing well, those provide an indication they process needs to be fixed. I agree that you are wise to notice such negative in-process measures. Often people want to just blithely assume yeah we had problems before but we not have this wonderful new idea. They then proceed to ignore warning signs for 18 months. Then the boss says this isn’t working, everyone quickly agrees and a new fad is found that everyone agrees is wonderful for 18 months until they then all agree was a failure. And then repeat.

    To actually improve management you need to engage in continual improvement which mean doing the hard work. Not just ignoring that the words are not actually carrying through to changes in behavior.

  4. Pingback: Engage in Improving the Management System » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

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