End office drama

By Tom Borg

Learn four ways to eliminate work conflicts.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of companies and organizations. Every company seems to have some drama. Some a little, and some a whole lot!

It is normal to have many leaders, managers and front-line team members who bring their different behaviors, personal motivators and emotional quotients to the organization. Once they all come together, the organization becomes a mixing bowl of various tools and baggage.

Some managers and team members do the best they can, while others tolerate the experience until they find something better and then move on.

What is it, specifically, that great leaders do to bring out the best in their managers and teams? Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of leadership consulting firm Zenger Folkman, Orem, Utah, analyzed 3,492 participants in a manager development program. One of the things they discovered is that effective leaders apply four strategies that get quantum results from their managers and teams. Let’s look at each one and see how you can apply that principle in your business or organization.

No. 1: Interact in ways that make the other person feel safe and supported.

What are some of the ways you make your people feel safe and supported in your organization?

One example of this strategy comes from Jeff Wiska, building material distribution center manager for Boise Cascade of Boise, Idaho. Wiska makes it a point to regularly speak face-to-face with all of his salespeople, managers and personnel. He takes the time to get to know them and have down-to-earth conversations with them. This helps to build a feeling among his team of being secure and supported.

As you can imagine, they have extremely low turnover in his center.

How often do you have a face-to-face, one-on-one conversation with your team? It is amazing how far this will go in creating a supportive environment.

No. 2: Take a helping, cooperative stance.

The type of leader or manager who plays the game of “I got ya,” or who constantly looks for things their people do wrong are perfect examples of a person who is not taking a helping, cooperative stance. The best way to live this strategy is to look for ways you can help your managers and team members accomplish their goals. Consistently give them the support they need. Open doors that are closed to people they need cooperation from and cut red tape in the form of policies and procedures that might be preventing them from doing what they are paid to do to get results.

No. 3: Occasionally ask questions that gently and constructively challenge old assumptions.

One of my favorite quotes by humorist Josh Billings is, “It ain’t what a man don’t know that hurts him. It’s what he knows that just ain’t so.”

Good questions are a powerful tool to help change a person’s errant paradigms or assumptions. When a person’s beliefs or assumptions prevent them from seeing new possibilities, ask them open-ended questions that provoke them to see a situation from a different angle.

No. 4: Make occasional suggestions to open up alternative paths.

As I always say to my green industry clients, “There are many roads to the mother lode of gold.” It’s true that some roads will get you there faster and with less expense than others. When necessary, tactfully point out alternative ways of doing things. One way you could do this is by using an example of how someone else was able to accomplish a goal similar to the one your manager or team member is attempting.

Another approach is to ask questions that will draw out from the person alternative ways they could approach the problem they are trying to solve.

As author Daniel Coyle points out in his leadership book titled The Culture Code – The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, the two main things extremely successful companies have in common is that their people feel safe and connected. When these two criteria are present, great things are possible, and the organization functions as a high-performing team.

How about your company or organization? Is it performing as well as it should? As it could?

Here is my suggested action plan for you to follow. Get your team together and ask them these two questions:

  • What do we need to do as a company to make you feel safe?
  • What do we need to do as a company to make you feel genuinely connected?

Then do follow-up one-on-one sessions with each one of your managers and team members. Ask them the same two questions. Then ask them to give you personal examples of what they mean. Take good notes and prepare to take action.

Once you take action, amazing things will happen, including major progress toward the elimination of all the drama.

Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience expert who works with green industry organizations and their leadership teams to help them connect, communicate and work together better without all the drama through his consulting, training, coaching, leadership instruments and job benchmarking tools. To ask him a question, please call 734.404.5909, email tom@tomborg.com or visit his website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com.