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When to Stop Fighting: How to Have a Great Company Culture
July 3, 2014
Having a truly open company culture can be very challenging these days. It seems like the more "social networked" we become the more employees are aware of what is going on inside the company they work for. You can't stop the spread of technology. With that increased knowledge comes the desire to participate in decisions made within the company.
Like all companies, with serious decisions comes serious debate. Sometimes, there may be heated, passionate debates about what action should be taken. Recently at a company meeting we had one of those debates take place. An issue was brought up. Several in the company were passionately arguing their cases. I thought it was great. I heard afterward, some people were not comfortable with the debate.
I thought about that... What made them uncomfortable? Maybe they grew up in a family that didn't have such debates "in front of the children". Maybe they weren't used to seeing people debate vigorously over an issue. Maybe, I don't know. What I do know is that in the working world you need to be ready for a little passionate debate. If you shrink from that kind of thing or don't participate, your career will likely suffer. Passion comes from caring.
The moment you get two or more employees in a company, you will begin having an occasional difference of opinion. That is fine. A disagreement can spawn a healthy discussion. The best decisions are made after discussion and debate. Welcome it. Debate is healthy, as long as it doesn't get personal and too heated.
Here are some tips on how to keep your company discussions healthy and your team on track...
Attack the problem, not the people. Don't get personal when discussing the issue. Talk about where the problems are. Trust me, the people know who is responsible.
Focus on the interests of the company. The goal is always making the company better. This must come ahead of the individual. Nothing can derail a company faster than everyone acting out of their own self-interest.
Encourage people to speak openly and honestly.
Try to involve everyone. Some people won't speak up on their own. Ask them questions.
Brainstorm and get the options on the table. Identify what actions we, as a company, could take.
Talk about the downsides as well as the positive aspects of each option. Talk about the trade-offs. Every decision has trade-offs.
Identify the impact of the decision. Ask who will this impact? If it has a negative impact, what can be done about that?
Be realistic on the timeframe needed to implement. It stresses everyone out if you budget too little time. Remember, everyone already has a full-time job.
Have the discussions preferably in person. Do Not use email! There are way too many things that can get misread in an email.
Once you wrap up the discussion, make a decision. The danger is, if the decision is postponed, the heated feelings and emotions of the session remain. People will keep fighting. Make the call and be done.
Once the decision has been made, then it is time to stop fighting and come together as a team. As a participant, don't bring up any more negatives. No whispering in the halls. Back the decision 100% like it was your own. This is what is meant by supporting your team and your company. Do everything in your power to make the decision a success.
If you support your team once the decision has been made, you will make many friends. By participating and contributing ideas on the way to the decision, you will have earned your place at the table the next time an important decision needs to be made.
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