Prefer to read? Transcript is below:
The Two Systems
Hello. I’m Doug Beckley. Most of us understand that our organizations have two kinds of systems. The business systems and the human systems. The business systems are the core work that must be done - delivering a product or service to the customer or end user. Every organization has human systems as well. These are the dynamics of the people and teams that cause the business system to run and produce this core work.
As a management consultant, I am rarely called on to help a company improve their business systems. My clients are the expert in their business - not me. Where organizations usually struggle is with human dynamics. Breakdowns with people are often seen as: lazy or unengaged employees, workplace conflict, poor judgment from key managers or just bad morale and productivity.
The reality is that these are lame excuses. If business is suffering because the human systems are failing that is the responsibility of the leader. It usually results from a failure of management practices, hanging on to the wrong people, or not taking the time to develop team and interpersonal effectiveness.
75% of the human system problems I encounter can be solved by shoving two people into a conference room and getting them have an uncomfortable conversation. Sometimes one of these people is the leader themselves. Poor individual or team performance is usually a result of broken trust and bad communication.
Communication exists on a continuum. Both ends of this continuum are dysfunctional and in the middle is an effective communication sweet spot. On one end is passive or avoidant communication styles. People that can’t or won’t be direct and have the tough conversations. On the other is the aggressive or domineering style. People that push their own agenda at the expense of others. Both styles are equally destructive in the workplace. Both styles result in broken human systems.
The next time you have a performance problem with a person or team, do some diagnosis. What’s the root cause of the problem. Who isn’t communicating? Is it a manager who fails to hold someone accountable because it’s uncomfortable or they fear losing the employee? Is it a team who places their individual goal above company goal thus sabotaging cooperation. At the heart of most broken human systems are people that need to sit down and find the effective communication sweet spot.
This sweet spot is found by taking three simple steps:
- Get all the facts and issues on the table. Develop a common understanding of the situation. Many difficult conversations are simply misunderstandings because people had different information or saw only a piece of the whole situation. The key is to gain a common understanding of all the factors and information to make sure we are solving “the same puzzle”.
- Seek first to understand the other's point of view. Make sure each party fully understands what is important to the other. You can’t resolve a difference if you don't know the concerns and needs of the other party. Put yourself in the other person's shoes and fully comprehend their concerns and viewpoint before you force your own solutions.
- Find a win-win solution. Discuss and agree to a solution that meets both parties' needs. Win-win requires all parties let go of preconceived solutions and search for alternatives that genuinely meet the needs of all. Win-win is not giving up your own point of view, or conceding your position. It is finding a way of getting what you want by helping others do the same.
You may be thinking, “Well yeah, of course.” This IS simple – it’s just not easy, and it’s not practiced by most people. 90% of people breakdowns exist because one or more of these steps is neglected. Repair communication and rebuild the human system. Rebuild the human system and the business systems will operate with new levels of ease and performance.
If these are issues that you or your organization faces, feel free to give me a call. I'm happy to sit down and discuss it with you and develop some potential solutions. My number is 702-838-8413.