One recent client crisis provided a strong case study for new learning. Many challenges in the workplace don’t get an opportunity to bloom into new and better strategies. Great leader-managers are watchful within the cycle of challenges, obstacles and change for those “teachable moments.”
Of course, we can learn and grow from stable environments, free of dysfunction, as well. If you’ve been in the workplace for even a short time, you’ve probably watched a crisis or two unfold. Crisis in this context could be two individuals getting into an argument or a team losing their synergy over some misunderstanding. The point in this blog is that we can extract great teachable concepts from these crises.
Another recent crisis that I’m aware of in a company caught some great managers off guard. They got some tremendous news about some new business. The leader on the new business was out of the office and virtually inaccessible when the new business announcement was made. There arose some assumptions and misunderstanding as the announcement of the new business circulated. A few key leaders got their feelings hurt just because of the process and timing by which the announcement was made.
This real scenario has some great components to prepare for the next “unexpected crisis.”
1. The team should preemptively plan for these unexpected times with a messaging or communication plan when unexpected announcements occur.
2. Clarifying role definitions and assigning Primary and Secondary tasks for some predictable crises during the normal rhythm of a project, is crucial.
3. As a team, conduct some team meeting exercises that allow for all team members to describe and discuss various crises and then present solutions.
4. Discuss, as openly as possible, the human behavioral aspects of a crisis: (1) egos, (2) overlooking a team member’s efforts on a project, (3) hurt feelings because of getting into someone else’s role and (4) predictable stress behaviors, weariness and long hours that can occur.
We all can calculate certain major and minor crises in the workplace. Work would be easy to manage if it weren’t for people and their feelings. In actuality, we lead behaviors not just work or people. The great news is we can learn from all circumstances – good or bad. It is just a matter of some predictability and open and honest team discussions before and after the challenges of doing business.
Rick Forbus, PhD
CEO – Trove, Inc.