Getting Along Can Do You In—The Need for Harmony

Getting Along Can Do You In—The Need for Harmony The need for harmony Having harmony in your working life is a good thing, as is a harmonious personal life. It is stressful, unpleasant, and even injurious to your health to work in tension or conflict. A group which gets along is usually more productive. However, the need for harmony can sometimes be so overwhelming that everything else goes out the window—such as being innovative, avoiding failure, or telling the truth. Let’s use the example below to explore this. Missing data The executive group reviews the strategic plan annually. You supervise putting together the report. You research trends, gather data, and model different scenarios for the plan. Your meeting with Jean, your employee You: Jean, have you seen how Megan’s company did their report? I like it. I think we should use it this year. Jean: Hey, we took over Megan’s company. She should do it our way. You: We should use what’s best from both. Jean: (Silence) You: Anyhow, because Megan is with us, we can spread out the work. Jean: She’s three hours behind us. It’ll be impossible to work together. You: There’s a way it might. You like…

Power Matters to You

Power Matters to You In the last post, you were vying for the power to develop a new company service. Despite your and Sarah’s best efforts, Mike positioned himself as the only one to do it. Why should you care about power? So, why does this matter? You may be thinking that you’re not power-hungry so this undercurrent can’t or shouldn’t affect you. (My definition of power is later if you’re interested.) After all, you’ve got a job. Who cares who gets the power? You do or should. The scenario in the last post showed why. Not only will Mike increase his profile but possibly at your expense if the money Mike needs is diverted from your budget. If so, you can’t meet your commitments but can kiss your year-end bonus good-bye. You not only don’t advance your career by creating the new service, you may actually lose ground. So news—even if you just want to do your job, power can and does affect that modest goal. Without it, you can’t prevent yourself from being at the whim of those who with it. What you do, how you do it, when you do it, who you work with, who you…

Power—The Hidden Engine at Work

Power—The Hidden Engine at Work As I mentioned in a previous post, there are at least five undercurrents in organizations. Power is an important one. Here’s an example of how it’s used at work. Power at work Your company manufactures greeting cards. You are meeting with your boss Galen and your peer managers. Galen is a nice guy but to your mind, too much under the influence of Mike, one of your peers. Galen: Alicia [Galen’s boss] wants a new service to let customers customize their cards. They access our files on say, birthdays, to pick the wording and picture. We combine them to print or send by soft copy. I’m looking for the right person to take this on. Mike hogs things Mike: Well, obviously, since I manage the writers, it would be best if I took it. Sarah: Why, Mike? I’ve got the artists. People buy cards for the illustration, not the words. I should head up the new service. You make a bid YOU: Well, since my guys ready the illustrations and text for production, I should get it. Mike: You’re just the back end. You put the files together so production won’t screw up. YOU: Exactly,…

Wouldn’t It Be Better if I Made the Management Decision Myself?
Dark Side for Employees / April 30, 2018

Wouldn’t It Be Better if I Made the Management Decision Myself? Well, depends on what you mean by ‘better.’ Faster? Yes. More efficient? Yes. More effective? Hmm—maybe not. In all the areas under your authority, you have the right to make decisions, with or without employee input. And if there are compelling operational reasons (e.g. certain skills must be available, etc.), it’s probably appropriate to do so. Similarly, relatively trivial decisions don’t need employee input.  But be careful here. Decisions like holidays, although in the grand scheme of things, trivial, are not seen so by employees. Re-arranging office space, replacing office furniture, and other housekeeping items which affect the employees’ personal space or degrees of freedom will not be seen as unimportant. Why can’t I make the decision myself? Again, you are within your rights to do so. And often that is the way to go.  But sometimes it is better to take the admittedly more time-consuming approach of consulting employees. When does it make sense to do that? Beyond decisions which get employees where they live, there are: When employees can choose how well they implement a decision. Some managers (particularly senior ones) have the charming belief that once…

Does your company have undercurrents?
Dark Side for Employees / April 2, 2018

Does your company have undercurrents? It can be hard to imagine that your company has undercurrents, especially since, as I say, they are not well recognized by even the most astute office politicians. Undercurrents quiz To identify if your company does, answer the following questions: Who is influential/who gets listened to? The person with the best argument, however expressed The one whose words fit the latest strategy Whoever shouts loudest or longest? Who gets promoted? The one who: Has the right skills and aptitudes Is one of our kind Plays golf /racket ball or drinks with the right people? How is dissent handled? Acknowledged even from nut cases. Debated Politely listened to and then ignored Shouted down Ridiculed Listened to only from well-respected people Which is true of your company? I can say the unpopular without being ridiculed or punished It’s better to have an iffy decision than piss people off by insisting on the right one I avoid telling my boss how things really are Unless you have picked the first option for every question, you have undercurrents. And frankly, if you didn’t, I’d have trouble believing you. All organizations have them, some tow more than others, some are…