Are you protecting something even though no one else wants it?
Grace loves her marrow bones. It’s one of her all-time favorite treats. So when Oliver and Dodger even throw a glance her way, she goes into protection mode.
Those cats could care less about a beef bone. They haven’t once licked it or attempted to play with it (despite the fact that every single item in our home becomes a cat toy at one time or another). So it’s with great amusement that my husband and I watch this encounter. Grace will run across the room to get in between the cats and her bone. Lots of energy and emotion are spent on a fruitless exchange. Dodger is a frequent instigator, and poor Grace is left feeling drained from having to watch over the bone.
Do you have an employee who can push your buttons like that? Perhaps you’re setting the stage by hoarding information and/or access to open dialogue.
One of the most unproductive exchanges in the workplace is when someone holds on to an idea, or process, or project only because it’s their idea or they feel inappropriately protective of it. Having too narrow a focus on any one thing will not allow the best ideas to surface.
Letting go and opening up the conversation about all angles of the situation brings out the best. Of course it takes time and commitment to engage more voices in the discussion. It may seem like it will slow you down, or open up a can of worms that you aren’t too excited to get into.
But rest assured, if that can of worms exists, it will be opened. And it is much easier, faster, and more effective, to address it earlier rather than later. For one thing, if ideas are offered earlier, it’s simpler to address them and/or react to them. If one person, or a small group, is hell-bent on moving in one direction before those who need to implement it are on board, it will take longer — especially if they don’t want to get on board!!
If you have a project or task that is not being accomplished as you thought it should be, ask yourself how it started. Did you give a directive about a change and just assume everyone will follow along with clear explanation and exploration of all the options? What roadblocks exist for them to accomplish what you have asked them to do? Do they agree with this new direction?
To be clear, you can still decide on a course of action that differs from the feedback. Explain to everyone what you heard and the rationale for whatever choice you have made. Then ask the team to give it a shot and provide feedback as things develop. Continue the two-way dialogue to track how things are going.
Grace would never consider asking Oliver or Dodger why they stare at her while she’s chewing her bone. That’s a mistake. They might tell her that they like the smell and want to be near it. (OK, that’s an unlikely answer, but we don’t know what they might be thinking until we ask.)
Don’t hold on to something for fear of losing it. Engage others and it will likely come back to you with a better perspective.
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