Alex leads a team of strategists and planners working to mitigate any issues that might arise as a result of policies to be introduced into a highly successful international manufacturing company.
The team is made up of great minds, thinkers, strategists, statisticians, all highly regarded in their field. The team tests every scenario to ensure that new products or services introduced meet client needs, do not compromise existing services or products and conform to any regulatory requirements worldwide.
Alex is preparing to have a difficult conversation with Jay one of the top strategists whose behavior has become difficult to manage. Alex is structured, formal; not big on conflict and realizes he has allowed Jays authoritativeness, self-reliance and frankness to cause issues throughout the team and distract them during a particularly pressurized time.
Alex realizes that he has avoided talking to Jay whose behavior is now creating problems; he doesn’t want to have this difficult conversation but is aware that the team are talking about Jay and not talking to him concerning the impact his behavior is having on them. Jay is one of Alex most gifted strategists; his ability to make quick yet informed decisions makes him very valuable to the team.
A side issue that concerns Alex is realizing the team is dismissing input from Jay for no reason other than frustration about his ongoing behavior.
The issue came to a head when one of Alex key team members offers their resignation citing Jay as the cause, adding that Jay was taking charge of every aspect of their work; was dismissive of input and responding harshly to attempts to challenge not only his input but also his communication style.
Alex prepares for the meeting with Jay; making sure that the meeting format is well set out in his head. He knows the outcome he wants; he doesn’t want to lose Jay nor any other staff member. But he also does not like conflict and tends to close down and retreat when people are blunt.
From the outset Jay appears defensive; Alex begins by acknowledging that there will be differences in how each person communicates and sees things. Differing perspectives is what makes the team great. He goes on to acknowledge successes, not just Jays but the team as a whole. Alex explains to Jay the impact of his current behavior, making sure to frame it in the behavior he, Alex, has observed and not in the he said, she said’.
Immediately Alex can see the confusion on Jays face. He asks Jay for his response to which Jay replies he had no idea his communication style was affecting and impacting his colleagues or Alex in this way.?He states that causing issues such as this was never his intention. He further states that he had indeed become frustrated and harsh in some of his responses simply because he viewed the current project they were working on so important and didn’t feel the others realized the implications to the business of getting their findings wrong, but his responses were never intended to be personal only ever about work.
Jay began to realize the implications of what Alex was saying; he could now see why the work atmosphere had become so negative towards him; why his suggestions and even concerns were being rejected.
Seeing Jay response, Alex immediately moves the conversation onto finding a structured solution.
The reality of the situation is that Jay, Alex and the team were operating from their natural zone, and they did not have the awareness to adapt. Alex realized that the solution lay in getting the whole team to complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process. Alex had completed this himself as part of a DNA Behavior International conference he attended. Alex realized that if Jay and the team completed this process and share the outcomes, they would have an insight into their communication and behavioral inherent styles. Alex puts this suggestion to Jay who quickly agrees.
The team complete the Communication DNA Discovery Process and along with Alex share the outcomes with each other.
- No long stories, keep to the point
- Keep meeting agenda short and focused
- Prioritize objectives around their goals
- Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
- Lay out the options so a decision can be made
- Provide bullet points
- Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
- Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
- Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
- Recognize them with referrals to other influencers
With this knowledge, Alex and the team would have discovered that Jay communication style was not intended to be personal. Any harshness stemmed from his frustration to keep the work on track. The team members realized as they shared that Jay would not have taken offense had they pointed out his harshness and asked him to identify the source of it. Jay would have realized from reactions that his behavior was causing his colleagues to pull away from him, reject his input and he should have asked why.
Avoiding difficult conversations at work can grow to become a major barrier and obstacle to excellent performance. In this case, if everyone understood communication and behavioral styles it would not have escalated so far. However, insight into inherent communication and behavioral styles quickly put this team back on track.