“Confrontation shouldn’t only be about pointing out bad behavior in order to stop it. It also should involve reasoning and sound solutions that help your… coworker reform the behavior that is causing the confrontation. Think about possible solutions before you approach the offending party so you can offer suggestions instead of just critical comments about performance or behavior.” – Kay Ireland
I am tired of watching politics in business slow processes down, get budgets cancelled and people fired just because everyone avoided a direct, no-holds-barred discussion of the facts, or were not allowed to have differing points of view.
Is anyone else concerned?
Unfortunately, it appears that playing politics is human nature, but it can be minimized.
To do so, company leadership needs to make very clear that it has zero tolerance of a ‘yes man’ mentality and use of politics. Finessing, politics, and downright lying to get ahead is a demonstration of weakness by the people who believe they cannot advance on their own merit.
It also is a reflection of the weakness of management that allows it. Such allowances going unchecked means the really good people will depart and the organization will be left with the weak, politically motivated underachievers.
Allowing such behavior to permeate a business is lazy, irresponsible and disloyal to your people. It means taking the easy route and not challenging what people say because to do so would take considerable effort, will likely upset people and make you unpopular.
Healthy debate is vital to ensure that all the various views are talked out, and then a decision made. And guess what? Consensus rarely achieves the best decision.
Democracy rarely works in business. Someone ultimately has to listen to all the arguments and then make the best decision they believe they can make. To get to that point, all the views have to be forcefully aired.
Leaders that deliberately surround themselves with like minded colleagues ask for trouble. As Paul Chambers points out in his excellent book “Head Shot – the Science Behind the JFK Assassination” Kennedy felt that one of the reasons the Cuban missile crisis blew up (not literally, fortunately) was because of the like minds of the people involved.
He started putting people on his cabinet who had different and opposing viewpoints and disparate backgrounds so that he would have dissenters and multiple points of views.
As Chambers points out; “when a group lacks diversity of backgrounds, the variety of the input from its members and the range of that input are limited.”
“In order to make meaningful decisions, it was essential to be able to evaluate alternatives. Alternate choices can only arise from a group of people who have a variety of viewpoints and a multiplicity of backgrounds, world views and fundamental beliefs.” More sage observation from Chambers who as a scientist investigating Kennedy’s death sounds a lot like a business consultant.
He argues that Kennedy surrounded himself with such people, so that a disaster like the Bay of Pigs never happened again and that such a strategy probably saved his Presidency and the nation when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred.
Issues must be confronted and questioned and looked at from all angles by people with different ideas and they must be given the freedom to be able to hold and argue opposing viewpoints than the ones leaders and management possess, with no fear of reprisals.
Confrontation should be passionate, well argued, committed and short. Once a decision is made, it’s over and everyone is expected to back and commit to implementation and execution the decision, whether it was your viewpoint or not.
So, argue, confront, plead passionately and encourage people to have different views. Healthy organizations promote this and as a result have focused, guilt-free people committed to the same cause.
For more on Confrontation, Kay Ireland has written a great article on Confrontation Techniques.