27 Nov Get In or Get Out
I work with leaders and teams to help them get clear on where they are going, and strategize on how best to get there. Often I get called in to assist when a team has derailed, and the pain of floundering or conflict has gotten too much to bear. Recently I was working with a team that was feeling an acute sense of pain: lots of turnover, too much work, inexperienced leaders, lack of clear direction, and lots and lots of blaming and shaming. Yikes. And, this is not all that uncommon in my experience.
Assessing the source of discontent and dysfunction is always the first step. I look at the layers of the system – the individuals, the leadership, the team interplay, the organizational rules and processes. I get a read on the culture or “how things are done around here.” I name what is in the way of moving towards better – better relationships, better communication, and ultimately, better results.
But, naming the challenges is the easy part. Doing the work of change and moving forward is the hard stuff. This is where the people within the organization have to roll up their sleeves and get real. I, as the consultant, will impart my good advice on how to move forward, but whether anything gets done, and in a lasting, sustainable way, is up to the people inside. This requires ownership of the problems and the solutions from bottom to top, plus accountability by all to do their part. This means that all the blaming on “them” has to cease, and the narrative of “us” put in its place. This means no more whining, unless the whining is followed with reasonable solutions and ownership of action.
Moving forward through change and conflict requires systemic and individual efforts that are pointed in the same direction and aligned. From the system perspective, organizations must have structures, policies and leadership in place that reflect the values and vision towards what really matters.
At the individual level, I say: Get in or get out. Employees and leaders are free agents. Although, there are situations where employment options are limited. Staying stuck in a workplace that feels toxic, where individuals lack a sense of agency or hope for change, can lead to diminished personal health. If you are not happy with your organization and you are not able or willing to make the changes you can make, then get out. Or, get in. Get in the game. Consider what changes you can make and are willing to make towards a better team and organization. Whatever your choice, just own it, and move forward.
Accountability for a better workplace comes from the top, the bottom, the middle and the sides.