Last time I shared the beginnings of a list of rules you could use to simplify your work life. A way to spend less time refereeing differences between employees.
Today I’m going to continue that list and make a small change to my SELF Map.
Rule #8: Don’t let the sly ones drip gas on the fire.
When describing issues, some folks like to slyly add fuel to the fire. For instance, let's assume marketing splurges on an off-site meeting and accounting thinks it wasteful. Accounting might describe it as a "boondoggle" or “vacation”.
It's great that they're questioning an expense that they consider questionable. That's their job. But it's wrong that they're dripping gas on the flame with childish name calling.
So shut'em down. Make it clear that their argument loses merit when they amp up the language. They become part of the problem rather than the solution.
Only big kids get to sit at the big kid's table.
How do you win by behaving this way?
Rule #9: Only Person A can know Person A’s motives.
“You disrespected me and my input on the topic BECAUSE you don’t value the accounting department.”
“You agreed to provide this service to the customer without thinking about the hours involved BECAUSE you don't respect our time.”
Discussing the first halves of these sentences is fine. Have at it. But everything after the BECAUSE has to go. Person B does not get to tell person A why they did something.
This makes the argument way too personal and is a path to nowhere. I've seen groups use this kind of crap to try to destroy each other. Refusing to work cooperatively for DECADES and no one for sure remembers how it all started. But they sure do love ripping on each other.
And the person at fault here is the business owner. You get an F minus for letting this kind of crap take root and blossom on your watch. You deserve all the aggravation that comes from not standing up to the problem.
But that changes today when you shut this garbage down. Zero tolerance. If the offender is a manager, and a repeat offender, move them into another role. They aren’t showing the maturity required to manage people.
How do they win by behaving this way?
Rule #10: Don’t let folks exchange blows.
“You did this and it’s unforgivable.”
“Well you did this similar thing so it must also be unforgivable.”
And on and on…
Zero listening. Zero forward progress.
Stop the discussion immediately. Both parties get to air their grievances, but they need to do it one at a time. Let person A completely exhaust their frustrations, facts, accusations without interruption. Once they’ve punched themselves out, it’s person B’s turn to speak.
Your odds of a meaningful discussion skyrocket if you do this.
Special caution: Person A - the victim or the one making the initial complaint - will despise letting person B make their counterpoint. Their skin will crawl when they have to listen to a competing reality. They will also lose their mind pointing out that person B’s counter argument or parallel situation is in no way comparable. One is an act of terrorism, the other a simple oversight. It’s your job to keep reality in the room.
There is no progress when folks are taking turns at each other's throats.
How do they win by behaving this way?
Rule #11: Sore winners must move forward.
Some employees tend to be vocal about real problems. That’s a good thing. As a business owner, you want folks to make suggestions that improve culture, safety, efficiency, profitability…
So you listen, fix the issue if possible, and then everyone moves forward.
Sometimes folks get stuck.
"It took you long enough. You must have character flaws to have been blind for so long. Even though you fixed the problem, I’d like to hang on to my complaint F O R E V E R.”
This is not OK. Donny Darkness needs to be put on the spot. Does he want to be part of the amazing success we’re building or would he rather be the anchor that holds us back?
If you hope to improve your business you need folks that can embrace the light. Appreciate the progress. This is how you build momentum and energy and reinforce a culture that supports change.
So ask Donny how he wins by behaving this way?
Sit everyone down and come up with your own agreed to set of rules. And then live by them. Especially you, the business owner. If you don't set the right example this is all a waste of time.
You get what you model and you get what you tolerate. If folks know they'll be immediately shut down for violations then the violations will stop. Or, they'll have to find another place to work.
Either way, you win.
(This site is all about building a Map that will help me do work and life better. So at the end of each post I check in to see if any changes / insights come to mind.)
As I was writing these last two posts and thinking about my SELF Map I decided to make another change. The current map, shown here….
includes one of my favorite insights - PURGE WRONG STORIES - as part of my IF. (Head to the ARCHIVE and see posts 28-33 if you want to review my posts on this topic.)
We all, me included, tend to stifle our own growth because we have too much incorrect crap floating around in our heads. So I love this concept, but I want to change one word. PURGE suggests that we can permanently remove stuff from our minds. But I'm pretty sure that's not how our minds work.
Even though we might try our darnedest to get rid of a thought, our minds refuse to throw emotional stuff away. So we can’t just discard these WRONG STORIES, we can’t PURGE them. What we really have to do is CONFRONT them every time they rear their ugly head. It’s a continual battle that we have to win over and over if we want to move forward.
So on my SELF Map PURGE Wrong Stories is out and CONFRONT Wrong Stories is in.
Here's a picture of the NEW MAP....
Now be clear here, I'm not suggesting that we become patsies - ignoring obvious slights and insults and shoddy treatment. What I'm saying is that we can't win by keeping this stuff front and center in our minds.
Maybe they have a different function in the organization that has different priorities.
Maybe they have access to information that we don't see and thus we can't fully appreciate the substance behind their decisions.
Maybe they just have a different, but equally valid, way of looking at the world.
Maybe our well-being isn't their number one priority because they're looking out for the well-being of an entire group or organization.
Which is why I think it makes great sense to actively and consistently question our unhelpful thoughts. To CONFRONT our WRONG STORIES.
Until next time….
***Note: This site works best when you read the posts in order. So please head to the ARCHIVE to get started.