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…

Consequences of Taking a Stand

Consequences of Taking a Stand Sometimes, you must speak up to maintain self-worth. In previous posts, we’ve discussed how to do that. However, no matter how successfully you pilot through your initial conversation, there will be consequences which you need to prepare for and accept as part and parcel of deciding to speak out. Consequences you might face Depends on your boss and how open your company is to change. The following list is generally in order of severity. What consequences you have to undergo will depend on how big the problem that you raise and how much your boss and/or company wants to avoid dealing with it. This list is adapted from the one published in Creating the Innovation Culture: Leveraging Visionaries Dissenters and Other Useful Troublemakers in Your Organization, Chapter Five. Ignore. Silence—a powerful weapon. When you raise the issue, no one replies. The conversation continues as if you’d never spoken. Made invisible. Funny things start to happen. Somehow, your name gets left off distribution lists. Important and interesting work is re-assigned. Decisions are taken without your input. Forbid. If you continue to push your unpopular views, your boss will say: “Focus on assigned projects, not on the…

How to Take a Stand or Challenge Convention

How to Take a Stand or Challenge Convention Whether you take a stand on something is entirely up to you.  Only you can decide that. But how you challenge convention can lower or increase the chances of continuing to earn a pay check. Plan Don`t do a spur of the moment, blow your gasket thing. It`s too important. Take a moment to think through what to say. Be clear. Sometimes, moral outrage can be diffuse. What exactly is bothering you? Is it the problem or the cover-up? Can be both but get it clear in your mind. Limit the scope. `You always do that!` is not a way to create the right conditions. There may be various transgressions but either find an umbrella term (e.g. management style) and use the various issues as examples, or cite the most egregious item to focus on.   Plan the conversation. You can’t determine exactly how the conversation will go. But keep the key points in mind: A concise and clear statement of the concern Any hard facts you can use to support your contention The resolution (specifics, please) which would satisfy you The conversation to challenge the status quo As discussed previously, pick…