In-fighting. Stonewalling. Grandstanding. We are all painfully aware of these problems in our political system. As outsiders looking in, we can see how subversive behaviors like these impede progress and keep the nation’s work from getting done.
The problems that plague our political system exist in the private sector as well.
When members work together for the greater good, progress is made. But when they pursue personal agendas and become polarized in their opposition to each other, work stalls and the organizational culture is poisoned.
Here are a few couple of questions to consider:
- Would you recognize this problem if it were happening in your own organization?
- Would you have the courage to out this kind of subversive behavior?
- Do you personally contribute to creating gridlock within your organization?
It’s most dangerous at the top
While there will always be the random, difficult employee, when that person is in your top management team, it can be fatal to success. Your executive team must work together well in order to meet and exceed performance goals. If they can’t communicate effectively with each other, then they disable the organization’s ability to tackle problems and obstacles with the appropriate sense of urgency and effectiveness.
As a result, financial performance will suffer.
So how do you know if you have a problem? Here are warning signs to watch for within your executive team:
Subversive and/or disruptive behavior that undermines the team’s efforts.
Reticence and/or apathy in meetings – not contributing or challenging ideas.
Lack of candor and courage when discussing performance related issues.
When the leadership team engages in these behaviors, the effects are frequently devastating to a company’s financial performance.
Recognizing you have a problem is half the battle.
You can’t fix a problem that you don’t acknowledge. However, fixing the problem is arguably the tougher half of this battle. First, it’s not enough that you recognize the problem. The offending person also needs to acknowledge the problem.
Frequently, the person in question believes that the problem lies elsewhere. They think they are not the problem. They are frequently the person who sees fault elsewhere, while being unwilling to accept responsibility for their contribution to the problem. So, getting an individual to accept ownership of the problem is priority one.
If your management team is plagued by legacy issues that pre-date you, or the whole team has become dysfunctional, it’s going to be challenging to change their behavior. In fact, when negative behaviors have become entrenched, it’s best to seek the help of a skilled facilitator. An outside, objective perspective may be the only thing that will help when there’s too much history or too many complicated dynamics at work.
Every company struggles with communication and relationship issues. And while challenging. issues such as these are difficult to overcome, it is worth the effort to address them. Companies that work to cultivate effective communications and relationships will succeed and thrive over those that don’t every time.
Avoid corporate gridlock. Lead by example. Make sure that open, honest, respectful communication starts with the leadership team.