Getting Collaboration Right

Getting Collaboration Right  Your group didn’t get a report in on time and you need to figure out what caused the lack of collaboration. You want to challenge the assumption that the most important thing is getting along. Raising the issue with Megan and Jean won’t be an easy conversation but it’s necessary. Challenging the lack of collaboration 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…

Teamwork Gone Wrong
Dark Side for Employees / August 20, 2018

Teamwork Gone Wrong What happened? In the last post, you returned after a week off to find that an important report hadn’t gone out. You thought you could have counted on Megan for her teamwork. You need to talk to her. Talk to Megan After discussions about the state of your father’s health, you get down to brass tacks. You Skype her. YOU: I was disappointed the report wasn’t finished on time. Megan: I sent you what I could. I didn’t have all the data. YOU: Did you bug Jean? She’s not great about deadlines. Megan: Every day. Wednesday, she said she’d do it but it didn’t come in time. YOU: Why didn’t you call me? Megan: I didn’t want to bother you. After all, your father and all. YOU: You could have left a message. Megan: I guess so. YOU: Come on, Megan, what’s really going on? Megan: (sigh) Jean’s a nice person, I didn’t want to get her into trouble. YOU: But that meant we didn’t meet our deadline. Megan: Well, I knew it would be better for you to talk to her as you’re the boss. Why didn’t Megan call you? Here is an example of where…

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…

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities You, of course, never do this. You are totally objective and above all such pettiness. Un-huh. And when you get over yourself, you can be welcomed back into the human race. In the workplace, companies demand everyone make decisions based on what’s good for the company and not themselves. You’re a team player if you do and a selfish, ambitious, and self-serving person if you don’t. So, it’s natural to present yourself as the company wants you to be. But your own needs can get in the way Unfortunately, companies aren’t entirely wrong (even though they are entirely self-serving) in their view. Enterprises generally work better if people think of the bigger picture rather than of their own advantage. Which still doesn’t take away from the very human need to try to get what is best for us (i.e. me) versus the balance of humanity. Everybody wants things to go their way. The issue is compounded for managers because they often have within their power to decide questions in which they have a personal stake. For example, in deciding holiday schedules, you have the final say and it turned out the…

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink?

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink? In the last post, I covered whether to deal with underground, and often incorrect, employee perceptions. I think you need to as a manager and doing so will help address one of the most pernicious undercurrents: groupthink. What is groupthink? Groupthink is one of several undercurrents of which most people are unaware but which can materially affect their careers. Specifically, groupthink is the tendency of a group to seek consensus even if it doesn’t produce the best solution. It is a major bar to innovation. In future, I’ll discuss the phenomenon in more detail but right now, I think it is sufficient to say that groupthink comes from an almost overwhelming need of most people to get along with their colleagues. This need can sometimes lead to papering over issues which should not be, or even starting to believe that you are in error because  of the group’s differing expressed views. This is what happened in the post on deciding holiday schedules. I realize that in the panoply of management responsibilities, deciding holiday schedules is right down there, but I chose that situation precisely because it is minor to show that undercurrents can…