Are You Creating an Avoidance Culture?

by Chris Young

creating an avoidance culture

Perhaps you have worked for a boss who was difficult to approach – a person you actually came to avoid.  I have.  I had a boss who not only was difficult to share an idea with, he “loved the ladies” and from a personality perspective - we were "oil and water".  Despite my best efforts to “win him over” with my hard work and ideas, I could not make him happy.  He shot down practically every idea I had. 

I soon gave up.  I avoided him and started going to his boss. 

Perhaps you are currently or have experienced the following:

  • An inability to connect with an employee team member.
  • A conflict that never quite goes away.
  • The sense that the best ideas are not being shared.
  • You sense that your team members are not sharing bad news with you.

There are four things that I worry about with a business.  The talent, the systems used, the Culture, and what is not being said.  A culture of avoidance reduces creativity, accountability, trust, and productivity

Assuming you are in business to serve your Customer, create a meaningful work environment, and make a profit – you need great ideas – you need the creativity your employee team members have to compete effectively and take your business to the next level. 

More importantly – you need your employee team members to feel safe – to trust you and one another enough to share what they are thinking.  Anything that gets in the way of that safety and trust will hurt you, your team, your Customers, and your bottom line. 

At The Rainmaker Group – I have been the single greatest destroyer of ideas.  I have done so at times without realizing it by being the hard charger that I am.  I have done so because, at times, I failed to honor the greatness in others. 

Chances are, the single greatest destroyer of ideas in your company and team is you.  The good news is you can do something about it. 

Following are five things that you can do to reduce a culture of avoidance:

Begin With You

All problems start at the head and if you are the head - it is indeed your fault.  Your culture is a direct reflection of you, what you allow, and what you do not allow to occur.  It is up to you to shape it. Shape carefully.

Quickly Remove Low Performers

The greater the job mismatch, the more likely you need to “swoop in” to correct actions.  When other employee team members see you addressing one of their colleagues on an issue, it creates stress and anxiety.  The longer you retain a low performer – the more likely some or many of your team members see you as difficult to work with – the more they will avoid you. 

Gain Behavioral and Value Awareness

The less your employee team members understand themselves and one another’s behaviors and values, the more likely there will be conflict and avoidance.  Create that awareness to help each team member reshape their thinking about themselves and the intentions of others. Learn more about behavioral and value awareness here.

Create Conflict Norms

Every team has those who run towards conflict and those who run away.  It is important to get everyone’s concerns and ideas on the table.  To do so, you must have conflict norms that create dialogue purposefully.

Create a Strong Personal Vision to Overcome Your Vices

Perhaps like me, you are a hard-nosed human being.  I run towards problems and conflict.  I have an idea for everything.  I squash great ideas that are born or about to be born by sharing my opinion more often than I should.  There are two philosophies I have that help me “take the edge” off.  One is “Honor the greatness in others.”  The other is “There is truth in everything being said by others.”  Both philosophies are part of my personal vision and enable me to be a better leader and team member. 

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