Welcome to the July 2009 issue of Alignment Solutions! We are pleased to announce that our next teleseminar, "Organizational Self-esteem: You Can't Succeed if You're Hiding Under the Desk," will be held on Thursday, July 23rd at 9 a.m. Pacific time (noon Eastern). We will discuss the connection between an institution's self-esteem and its success, and identify ways to minimize the obstacles to collective high self-esteem. To register for this event, please click here.
On July 8th we issued a press release containing tips about how to prevent employees from becoming collateral damage in the labor-management battle. A copy of the statement is posted on the Business Alignment Strategies web site.
Our article series called Research News You Can Use selects findings of academic research that are applicable in the workplace, and suggests how you might implement them in your organization.
Premise:Research shows that the #1 reason why employees leave organizations and why they join unions is dissatisfaction with their immediate supervisors. Find out what specific behaviors affect this important measure of employee well- being.
This month's theme is "optimal communication." Much of the work I do with organizations has its genesis in communication issues that arise from behaviors ranging from a total lack of communication, to a breakdown in communication, to an inability to communicate or interact appropriately with others. Lack of clear boundaries and respect seem rampant (e.g., cell phone users who talk loudly and/or about personal matters in public places). The specific aspect of communication dysfunction that we address this month is the unwillingness of many people to confront unacceptable or inappropriate behaviors.
The Feature Article, "Is the Political Correctness 'Elephant' in Your Workplace?," contends that avoiding difficult situations and conversations has serious negative repercussions on the work environment, and lists some of the benefits of a culture of candor.
In "How to Drive the Political Correctness 'Elephant' Out of Your Workplace," the Business Solutions section lists four ways to help create a healthy environment in which individuals regularly engage in productive, realistic, and candid conversations.
In the Personal Solutions section, "Are You the Only Person Who Can Do That?" passes along some sage advice designed to result in a dramatic increase in your well-being.
I invite you to visit my web site at www.BusinessAlignmentStrategies.com to find other articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!
Is the Political Correctness "Elephant" in Your Workplace?
Note: "The elephant in the living room" is a common metaphor for situations in which people refuse to confront or even acknowledge a major issue even though everyone knows about it and it is causing serious problems.
Recently an executive asked me, "Is it okay to speak directly to my peers and subordinates? By that I mean is it good management practice to speak in a candid, forthright way about sensitive, difficult, or contentious issues with them?" Although the answer may seem intuitive, the question really goes to the struggle many individuals have in putting theory into practice. That is, while most people would concur that difficult issues such as disagreements over a course of action or poor performance should be addressed clearly and directly (the theory), the reality is that many are not comfortable doing so. It's so much easier at those moments to revert to the "politically correct" indirect methods that are the norm in many organizations (the practice). As a result, we find the proverbial elephant in the living room - or in this case, in the workplace.
There are many reasons why people engage in the indirect, "politically correct" approaches to problems. Do any of these explanations sound familiar to you?
- Our self-image is at odds with direct communication because we think of
ourselves as "nice" people and we believe "nice" people don't upset others.
How candid are the conversations in your workplace? Do people feel they can speak freely and honestly with each other, or do they fear real or imagined negative consequences, such as being labeled a troublemaker? In one organization I was called in to help, individuals who challenged or questioned decisions or policies often were told, "You're not a team player." I quickly learned that phrase was a code for this message: "If you don't keep your mouth shut, you can kiss your career goodbye." Imagine the chilling effect that practice has on candid conversations! It also has very real adverse consequences in the workplace. Here are a few of the ways that a lack of candor can hurt organizations:
Conversely, here are some benefits of a culture in which candid conversations are the norm:
For ideas about how to rid the workplace of the "elephant" of political correctness and create a healthy environment in which managers and employees regularly engage in productive, realistic, and candid conversations, please see the article "How to Drive the Political Correctness 'Elephant' Out of Your Workplace" in the Business Solutions section of this newsletter.