It’s easy to get trapped, stuck, locked in an argument with passions running high on both sides. The harder you push, the stronger the push back. The issue escalates and so does the mood. Lots of heat, not so much light. Where do you go from here? Who’s going to blink first? If this scenario sounds familiar, if like me it’s something you have witnessed or experienced, this piece is for you!
I got stuck in an organisation when a different team tried to impose new systems and processes without consultation or explanation. It created extra work for my team and it felt cumbersome, bureaucratic, over-engineered and pointless. I felt annoyed and frustrated and my instinct was to challenge, to resist, to rebel. Instead, I took deep breaths and tried a different approach.
I arranged to meet with the leader of the team who had introduced the changes. My first question was to do with goals: ‘What’s important to you that you’re trying to achieve?’ She explained the legal and regulatory rationale behind the changes, what was driving them and why they were necessary for the organisation. It also provided her with space to articulate her own vision.
My second and related question focused on values: ‘What matters most to you in this?’ After a moment, she explained her team needed accurate, accessible information in order to ensure accountability. It opened the door for us to explore different methods to ensure they had the information they needed whilst, at the same time, to reduce the burden on other teams.
The simple approach I’ve outlined here can help build awareness, collaboration, mutuality and trust: ‘This is what’s important to me that I’m trying to achieve…what’s important to you?’; ‘This is what matters most to me in this…what matters most to you?’ It brings goals and values to the surface and creates a useful platform for conversation, negotiation and win-win solutions.
Nick is a psychological coach, OD consultant and trainer, specialising in developing critical reflective practice.