Monthly Archives: January 2017

information-hoarding

information-hoardingJeannie worked at ACME Corp in a field with government regulation, and although the regulations were slow to change, she and her department were expected to keep on top of them.

Jeannie was pleasant and fun to work for. She always had a kind word and a question or three about the family and other topics of importance to her colleagues and direct reports.

After several decades with little change, a variety of factors both political and economic, prompted rapid and swift change in her industry.  Regulations changed. ACME Corp needed to change too.

A team of six people reported to Jeannie during this somewhat turbulent time of changing regulations. Over the years, Jeannie had divided up tasks and responsibilities among her team members in such a way that none of them could clearly understand the “big picture.”

Her employees were keeping abreast of the changes in the industry and regulations and that, in turn, prompted questions from them. They needed to see, more and more, how their work was interrelated and how the changing regulations impacted the processes they followed.

“No problem, don’t worry yourself about it,” was always Jeannie’s reply when her team members asked even routine and basic questions about the bigger picture. “It’s my job to worry about those things.”

But it became more and more clear that if Jeannie was worrying about those things, she wasn’t letting on.

She held the purse-strings on organizational knowledge tight and her emotions even tighter.

The more the industry and the organization changed, the more tightly wound Jeannie became.

Senior leaders at ACME became aware of the situation. It was the perfect storm that they hadn’t seen coming: Jeannie was heavily invested in the organization (her professional identity hinged entirely on her current role and ACME) and she was faced with significant changes in her field and she hadn’t kept up.  Her tenure with the organization and her information hoarding yielded power disproportionate to her position.

Senior management feared firing her because of all the organizational knowledge she held.  They feared the status quo even more: a breach in compliance could cost them their license to be in business.

So they coached and prodded and pried. But they could not crack Jeannie. She was a tough nut.

And she was a liability. So they “re-organized” her right out of the organization.

Withholding information, the tactic Jeannie clung to in hopes of job security, was eventually what “done her in.”

Where do you see information hoarding? How is it compromising your team or organization’s success?

  • 0

    obstacles

    obstaclesRandall was ten years into a job that he thought he’d retire from. Everything was perfect . . . except for the past six years, when he’d been miserable.  He’d finally come to grips with his dissatisfaction on his most recent birthday, one with a zero on the end.  He’d realized it was easy to stay put in a job he didn’t like anymore.

    Easy, except for all the complaining to his wife and friends.

    Easy, except for his irritability that showed up in how he treated his kids.

    Easy, except for the impact on his health: high blood pressure, weight gain and disturbed sleep.

    Not so easy to stay put after all.

    So, Randall started applying for jobs, a daunting task, given he’d not updated his resume in a decade. After numerous false starts in his job search, he found his groove. He was networking, interviewing and growing hopeful.

    The perfect opportunity emerged.  It felt like the job description had been crafted expressly for him. Randall applied, was invited to interview, and knocked it out of the park. After three rounds of interviews, where he shined, he was convinced the job was his.

    Until he found out that it wasn’t.

    He rationalized that he didn’t want it anyway, the commute was too long, the industry wasn’t a perfect fit, and that he’d be better off without that job.

    In fact, he thought, his current job wasn’t so bad after all.

    Randall was full out compensating for the cognitive dissonance he felt. His desired state (new job) didn’t match his current reality (no job offer).  And his brain did what our brains are programmed to do: protect us. Except denying Randall a career where he can feel fulfilled and one that doesn’t compromise his health isn’t really what is the best for him.

    Many of us, like Randall, follow our instincts to avoid similar situations.

    The result?

    We deny ourselves the opportunity to want what we want, to go after our dreams, and stay where it is safe.

    Big dreams don’t always come to fruition the first time at bat. Or the second or the tenth.

    Connect with your dreams and don’t let the inevitable setbacks hold you back.

  • 0

    How do you explain someone’s irrational behavior or failure to deal with reality? Watch this week’s (video) blog to find out.

    Your choice: Watch the video or read the transcript below.

    VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

    Have you ever been in a situation where you’re attempting to make a decision with someone else – maybe in a group or just between the two of you – and the other person is clinging to outdated information, or worse yet, refusing to acknowledge the veracity or relevance of new information – information that would make a significant difference in the decision you are working toward?
    Maybe it is a new sales lead management system that’s going to replace a series of spreadsheets. And a colleague is adamant that the current system works just fine, the new system is an unnecessary expense and so forth.
    When people ignore or deny information that conflicts with their existing beliefs, they are experiencing cognitive dissonance.

    Their brain is grappling with the difference between the new information and what they believe to be true. When there is a gap, especially a sizable gap, between new evidence and what someone deeply believes, it is uncomfortable . . . and the brain seeks to make that difference go away. This can produce counter-productive behavior, and sometimes even irrational and bizarre behavior. Denial, excuse making, failure to see the obvious.

    So what do you do when someone is exhibiting these behaviors? How do you get them to see the new information as valid, and integrate it with their existing knowledge base?

    Start by stating what they do believe – at least to the best of your ability. Something like this: “If I understand you correctly, the sales process we’re using now works just fine.” Starting from their baseline makes them feel understood, it validates their position.

    Next, point out a problem with the current state, one that directly impacts them. “With our current system, senior leaders have to rely on self-reported data when determining who has exceeded their sales quotas.”

    Get agreement to the problem and then point out how that specifically impacts them. “You and I both know that others have received bonuses when they shouldn’t have.”

    And then, make a clear link to how the new information, or system in this case, can solve the problem. Finally, if at all possible, give them some time to think about it. Suggest you meet again in a few days and regroup.

    When cognitive dissonance runs deep, it will take a bit of time and patience to integrate the new information into their reality.

    So the next time you run into erratic, unreasonable or bizarre behavior from someone, take a moment to consider whether there is a significant difference between new information and their existing belief structure. If so, you’re dealing with cognitive dissonance. Use the tips presented in this video, and a dose of patience, to reduce the gap between their beliefs and the new information, so you can make a decision that’s in the best interests of all, and that everyone can buy into.

    That’s today’s video blog.  I’m Janel Anderson with Working Conversations.

  • 0

    You will never amount to anything.

    Self-talk, or the thoughts you think to yourself all day long, can do more damage than good. In fact, that self-talk can outright crush your dreams, especially if you are not listening closely to it and identifying whether it is fact or fiction.

    Here are six ways that self-talk, or how you communicate with yourself, can crush your dreams.

    1.  You deny what you want. You got close to that ideal relationship/career move/new car/dream home once.  And it fell through. So you convinced yourself you really didn’t want it anyway.

    2.  You compare yourself to others. Don’t try to fulfill on someone else’s dream. It won’t make you happy. Wanting the car your neighbor has, or the new job your former coworker just landed, isn’t going to make your dreams come true.

    3.  You listen to the (2%) negative feedback. If you weight the one or two pieces of constructive – or even outright negative – feedback more heavily than 98% of the feedback that said you did a great job,

    4.  You put other people’s need in front of your own. You had an intense day at the office and you are looking forward to relaxing in the evening. Except your spouse needs you to proof-read a work report that is due the next morning. Do you honor your need to relax (and your boundaries), or do you compromise your self-care and help?

    5.  You listen to voices from the past. What your parents thought you should be, where your brother thinks you should live or when your college professor said, “You’ll never be a writer.” Those are other people’s voices that need not have any bearing on who you are or what you want to be or do or have. Leave them in the past where they belong.

    6.  You sell yourself short. Excessive humility, when it comes to your skills and talents, is a major impediment to your success. If you are the smartest person in the room on the subject, let people know. If you read six books on the subject last month or follow all the top industry experts, don’t be shy. Confidently state your expertise and show your stuff.

    What will you do to get out of your own way and stop crushing your own dreams?

    Use the Comments below to proudly declare how you will get out of your own way and let your dreams come true.

  • 0