Mixed messages are actions that don’t match words, promises made but not kept and expectations set but not met. Mixed messages occur at all organizational levels and damage the credibility of that level and the entire management team. When employees and people in management receive mixed messages about priorities and what is acceptable for problems not solved, their trust in higher organizational levels drops. After years of mixed messages, most people feel that al most no one can be trusted. They are not sure who cares about the status quo and are not comfortable bringing up problems that could have been fixed a long time ago. When people finally stop talking about problems, their hope for improvement fades and morale sinks to lows only understood by those experiencing it. Often upper management can go years without understanding the level of desperation and depression in the workforce and lower management because people believe that no one cares. Performance suffers because of low morale but is seldom tied directly to these issues.
With a change in leadership, it is possible to pull people out of a depressed mindset and the work starts with acknowledging the truth about the current situation. Exciting turnarounds in morale can occur in just a few months, people will begin looking forward to coming to work, and trust will be built within departments and between organizational levels. This kind of transformational change does not cost millions of dollars but does require courage and commitment at all management levels.