Harmony through Silence

Harmony through Silence An option is always to keep your head down when the big guns of conflict come out. Sometimes it’s a good idea and sometimes not. Let’s talk about this possibility. Why it’s a bad idea You wouldn’t be representing your group well. A potentially good idea will get lost. A sub-optimal solution might be adopted. You might be wimping out by not speaking up. It’s good for the company The reasons above are about the company. That is, if you speak up, the company benefits by getting closer to the right solution. Even the last one fits. You’re wimping out by not helping the company be its best. The organization is usually better off if knowledgeable people occasionally ruffle feathers. But is it good for you? Depends. Depends on how you feel about the issue under discussion. I care deeply. Meaning, it is related to your own values and ethics. Not speaking up will do your sense of self-worth damage. I don’t care. E.g. a change with no impact, or any solution works for you. You might want some visibility by speaking, but if your comments are seen as disturbing the peace, you might want to back…

Benefiting from the Need for Harmony

Benefiting from the Need for Harmony In the last post, you attempted to table a proposal but were left hung out to dry. You hadn’t realized that the need for harmony trumped support for a good idea. Are you doomed to let Tod run the show? Not necessarily. You can be aware, respect, and even use the need for harmony. Let’s rewind and redo the meeting. The second meeting (reprise) YOU: I’d like to table my proposal. Tod: We have to deal with Finance’s first. YOU: How about hearing mine so we can compare? (turns to group) Who’s for that? Show of hands. (all hands go up) Tod: (grumpily) Fine. Let’s get it over with. Using the need for harmony Okay, very clever. You used the need for harmony to move your agenda forward by: Sidestepping a direct confrontation. Last time, you went head-to-head with Tod, disturbing the need for harmony and making everyone uncomfortable. They punished you by silence when you needed them to speak. Asking the group for something minor and non-verbal. In addition, rather than asking them to speak and risk Tod’s sharp tongue, you just asked for a show of hands.  Much easier, especially if you…

Challenging Fighting Words

Challenging Fighting Words Challenging Tod In the last post, you had an ugly meeting. Tod from Finance tried to grab the whole contracting process and went ballistic when people objected. You’ve had an idea you think would work. But the way things are going, it’s likely to be tough to get the idea heard. What can you do to get your idea heard? If you try to table it over Tod’s singlemindedness, it’s likely to descend into another shouting match. But if you gather support before the meeting, you’ll up your chances of swinging things your way. You spend the rest of the week talking to Sarah, Lilianna, Irwin, and others. They’re reluctant but, in the end, concede that it’s a better idea than Tod’s. You’re pleased. The second meeting YOU: I’d like to propose an approach to meet our needs and still be responsive to customers. Tod: Wait a minute, we didn’t finish discussing Finance’s. YOU: We did discuss it. Tod: No way. All I got was roadblocks. Nobody tried to make it work. YOU: Let me present my idea and then we can compare. Tod: (voice rising) Are you trying to cut Finance out? I bet you want…

Fighting Words

Fighting Words Streamlining the contracting process Your company makes women’s wear for the lower end of the market. The clothes are made off-shore but dealing with store buyers is local. The big buyers have complained that renegotiating contracts takes forever—up to six months. Finance draws up the contract. Then it needs sign-offs from Marketing, Strategy, Overseas ops, Material management, Sales, Customer relations, and again Finance. Things have come to a head because your biggest customer is threatening to use a competitor if your company can’t fix this. Your boss has chosen you to represent Customer relations in  a cross-departmental group to streamline the process. The first meeting Tod (Finance): The solution is clear. Finance taking the lead will speed things up a whole lot. Sarah (Ops): How do you figure? Tod: We write the contract and give final approval. If we had the whole thing, it’d be done in no time. Sarah: Without Ops input? When we have to deliver what you negotiate? Tod: We can’t have a million approvals. We have the budget, so we have most at stake. Sarah: So do we. If you negotiate below costs, we’re in trouble. Tod: (face gets red) Why would we negotiate…

Getting Harmony and Teamness Right

Your group didn’t get a report in on time and you need to figure out why. You want to challenge the assumption that the most important thing is getting along or teamness.Raising the issue with Megan and Jean won’t be an easy conversation but it’s necessary. YOU: So, guys, I wanted to talk about the report not going out last week. Expect avoidance Jean: But it went the Tuesday after so no harm done. YOU:  I’d like to discuss why it didn’t go on Friday. Expect sniping Megan: (undertone) Because the data weren’t there. Jean: I heard that! YOU: Let’s stick to the issue. Jean, you didn’t get the data to Megan on Wednesday. Why? Jean: I wanted to make it right. YOU: Megan needed it. Expect defensiveness Jean: Crummy research can’t go out! YOU: But what could you have done? Jean: Huh? Suggest solutions the first time YOU: Why not tell Megan you were going to be late? Jean: She knew when it didn’t arrive. Megan:  I needed a heads up. Jean: Wouldn’t have made a difference. YOU: But you two might have worked something to meet the deadline with good data. Jean: She could have called any time….