We often think that giving the benefit of the doubt is a good habit: It means we assume the best of intentions when others do or say something that we don’t like, or when their actions go against what we’ve agreed to. Team members will often show their loyalty by agreeing in principle to never doubt each others’ best intentions. This is a good habit for those who are quick to criticize, quick to judge intentions as evil,
I’m coaching a leader who feels he’s become a nag. His team is dispersed across the globe, but even those located in the same building rarely see him because of travel. A group of dedicated professionals, they are intent on doing good work. Still, he finds that deadlines are missed, and output doesn’t meet his quality standards. He doesn’t want to be a micro-manager – he hates that idea – but he’s at a loss for how to change it up.
I’m working with clients who are interested in building certain cultures in their organization. “We need more accountability” or “we need more innovation”. Almost immediately, this becomes performance talk: i.e. if we hire people with these attitudes (and get rid of those who don’t have them) we will naturally build them in the workplace. Not so fast! It’s tempting to simplify the complexity of human dynamics this way. But anyone who’s joined an existing team finds out pretty quickly what works – and what doesn’t.
Clarify Authority not Mandates
One of the most pressing concerns in the workplace is confusion over who does what. When this is unclear, turf battles erupt and onlookers can be paralyzed into inaction. Some will blame their confusion about accountabilities on the speed of change – although I have yet to see a job change or promotion happen overnight. It may be that the call for clarity is often met with continuous circular discussions. Eager to be empowering and non-directive tones,
It’s frustrating for leaders to find themselves in conversations that don’t seem to end. These circular encounters, whether with a direct report, a peer or a boss (even a customer) waste your time, and leave you feeling unproductive. You know there is problem when you actively avoid people. Notice your sinking feeling of déjà vu when certain people show up in your office. “Here we go again, the same old story.”
When the storytelling is prevalent and familiar, you may be caught in what is commonly called a drama triangle.