A few months ago I received a request from an Executive Manager at a Fortune 500 company. This manager called me in to do a third-party strategic analysis of his team under the auspices of improving communication and performance amongst his direct reports. His chief complaints were nothing out of the ordinary: interpersonal conflict amongst team members; lack of mid-level leadership; no team follow through; and significant performance declination from the team as a collective group. During our initial assessments, it became quite clear that the manager was the direct cause of a significant majority of the strife within the team’s operating environment. He was completely disconnected from those he was supposed to be leading.
At that point I was left with two “right” options for handling the situation. As the manager was the one retaining me to assist his team, I could have certainly completed the contractual services for his direct reports and placed my observations in the exit report in hopes that he would read and implement my recommendations, and that would have been a “contractually acceptable” thing to do. Yet in my eyes, I wasn’t the “right” thing to do. Instead of brushing it under the table, I went with option two- the direct approach. I scheduled an appointment with him at his office, and arrived ready to take heat from both barrels.
I relayed my observations about his inability to effectively communicate with his team and the impact that was making on his employees’ abilities to perform. He immediately began to give a lengthy defense of his skills as a supervisor- to include what he referred to as “impeccably personal” communication skills. In realizing that our meeting was going to run long, he asked me to wait for a few moments while he moved the staff meeting back by thirty minutes. As all of his direct reports were located in cubicles in direct sight of his corner office, I assumed that he would get up and walk over to tell them about the change. Instead, he flipped on his monitor and began to type an Outlook calendar request modification. With a smile, I asked him if he considered that to be an impeccably personal form of team communication- to which he paused, thought, and consequently hired me.
Monday Morning Perspective:
“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” – Unknown
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” -David Star Jordan
There will eventually come a time in life where both choices you are presented with are “right” in their own respect. The challenge lies in deciphering which choice is most right. In the instance above, I had to ask myself what the real goal of the project was going to be: 1. Giving that leader a “check-the-block” development course that would produce only marginal results that were outside of his range of influence, or 2. A program that would revolutionize his team and their performance if he’d actually get on board and make the same changes in himself that he expected of his employees. The answer was obviously the latter, although conveying that point to the client was the tricky part. He could have chosen not to hire me and to bring in someone else who was happy to placate him with a fluffy team program. Instead, he recognized the path I’d chosen and decided to take a stroll down development lane with his team. He made the tough, “right” choice, and his team benefitted greatly.
This week I challenge you to stop avoiding growth opportunities that you are presented with just because you have a lighter, fluffier “right choice” available to you. Dig in, do the work, and reap the rewards!
Have a wonderful week!
© Crystal Dyer 2011. All rights reserved.