INSTANT MBA: Thank People For Bringing You Bad News

joseph jiminez novartis

Novartis

Today’s advice comes from Novartis CEO Joseph Jiminez’s interview with the New York Times:“behaviour is a function of consequence. We had to change the behaviour in the organisation so that people felt safe to bring bad news. And I looked in the mirror, and I realised I was part of the problem. I didn’t want to hear the bad news, either. So I had to change how I behaved, and start to thank people for bringing me bad news.”

In a position he held before he was CEO of pharmaceutical giant Novartis, routine underperformance stumped Jiminez until he figured out (with the help of a psychologist) that his team didn’t believe they’d achieve the goals they set from the get-go. From there, he realised, a more open office culture — where it’s OK and even encouraged to bring (even bad) news to him — would ease the entire operation.

And he was right. When staffers believed they have the freedom to be honest, they proved more successful. The role of the CEO in cultivating that sense was not lost on Jiminez, and it’s a lesson he carries with him. Now, he makes a distinct point to connect with as many of his whopping 120,000 employees as he can, largely through weekly blogs.

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