Virtual teams can work but this particular member of a virtual team didn’t feel like she was part of a team at all. The meeting was the first time the eight people had met in the same room for a year. Each of them performed the same role at their individual business units, but no one knew why they were in the room together or what they were supposed to achieve. There was no sense of connection to each other or the company. This one drawing set the agenda for the rest of the meeting. Often one person has an insight that crystallizes general discomfort to a specific actionable issue
It is frustrating to be the one collecting data. Quality and Safety managers don’t know what works if they can’t measure results. Personally I hate people measuring me, and I have a gut resentment against those who think I need measuring. The person who drew this map drew it for people like me. I look at it and it helps me remember to chill out. All of us can do with a reminder that the people that get on our nerves don’t wake up early to plan new ways to make us crazy. They are usually just as concerned about achieving the vision as we are.
Guess who drew this map? If you need a tip, the only people who can stop the whole world from exploding is management. Management has the scissors, the fuse is on their side and instead of cutting it they are spending time fighting. All the damage of course will be to the “field.” Headquarter and Field are natural adversaries. HQ makes rules and policies to keep things fair and quality high (a/k/a consistency) while people in the field need the flexibility to adapt and see fairness as related to work ethic or talent instead of some HQ policy. Both are right. This dilemma has to be rediscovered by each new team that has begun to think it is about personality differences, or to accuse the other side of not understanding the real issues. This map was a message to the boss. And for reasons I can’t explain, she took it much better than a year of complaints.
“I’m the HR director standing on stilts because I have to talk to the director, but I don’t really have any power. Labor Relations (L.R.) and Personnel (Pers) are about to make me fall down.” This was a state government organization. Notice that “Labor” is in a turret with a fence around it with a window but no door. The central turret is open at the top with a person clearly “available.” The stance of this person reminds me of the woman behind the desk when I needed to change a class in college. She was the one person who could make it happen, but she really was sick of students asking to change classes. “Administration” the place you go when you are a problem…have a problem…same difference. THEN..look at IT. Information Technology was considered invasive at this agency and they talked like “aliens” thus the UFO. Try to understand with lots of stupid questions and you get “You don’t need to know that. Just (insert jargon) and you will be fine.” This one picture created insight for the HR person about balance and boundaries. The HR guys who kept agreeing they had to stop using jargon, finally “got it” from seeing themselves portrayed here. Notice also they are portrayed as lazy. IT guys simply have a different definition of urgent than most employees. Fixing your laptop does not equal a system-wide failure.
“The progression of a career in leadership”
I keep threatening to write a book titled “Leadershit.” This drawing is a great representation of why!
image New hires are sucked into the vortex of organizational leadership theories about white water, chaos theory, flexibility, doing more with less, participative decision making, strategic thinking, reliability and clear focus without any regard to the massive internal conflicts these impossible-to-maintain and mutually exclusive values set up.
Eventually being flexible can be interpreted as unreliable and white water is going to mess with people’s expectations for clear direction and focus. Simply reading most organizations’ list of leadership competencies is enough to make the most competent person feel incompetent OR to feel compelled to lie to himself or others (or both) about who she/he really is.
Good intentions created these “reach for the stars” lists of leadership qualities, but they have encouraged systems designed without regard for the fallibility and flawed nature of human beings. This creates a situation where every honest human being (who says, “Oops, I screwed up” every now and then) can easily be rejected in favor of the more image conscious less-competent individual who blames someone else. I taught leadership for years, and yes, I know that we have a “new definition” of leadership.
But the problem remains – even the leading leaders model is unrealistically positive. Facing the shadow side of human nature is scary, but incredibly valuable. The place where our common humanity can be revealed is the birthplace of compassion and tolerance. True cooperation does not occur between people who feel they must hide their flaws from each other.
This hiding separates them so much that ideas don’t flow freely, information is bottlenecked, and hesitation chokes their voices. Creative collaboration require strong connections between people that can only be born from a “warts and all” authenticity.
“We give 100%” is less believable than, “We give 100%, except for when we don’t.” If a group wants to develop trust, a good place to start is for EVERYONE to be honest about who they are and who they aren’t. In the best intentions to pursue high standards we have created a culture that doesn’t tolerate human flaws very well.
No wonder people are burning out and leaving their jobs… and it is the most creative, authentic and courageous ones that we lose as a result. Let’s try to make our workplaces safe for human beings and maybe we’d have more around when we need them.