There is lots of talk about “getting on the same page,” but in most work situations some level of conflict persists and can vary from subtle differences in opinion to diametrically opposed views. We all know that maintaining cordial working relationships is a must, yet too much focus appeasing diminishes our results and too much focus on our agenda carries the risk of losing status as “a team player.”
It can feel a bit like walking a tightrope and constantly balancing between
- Being self assured, but not belligerent.
- Being accommodating, but not spineless.
- Being ambitious, but staying realistic (Picture a “stretch goal” snapping our rope!)
Maintaining forward momentum while maintaining this “balance” is also tricky. There are three large areas of attention that can help:
How am I seeing the situation (and should I look at it differently)?
With reams of data at our disposal, it is very easy to arrive at very different evidence-supported answers to the question “how are we doing?” Those closest to the situation tend to have a really good read on how things actually work, but once performance measures are imposed, these same people can start to question their gut feelings. Taking time to gather a different perspective on your own may be more effective than simply taking in the perspectives of others. One part confidence; two parts humility.
Who do I have to work with (and how are those existing relationships)?
We have relationships to manage that are up, down and across. Our group of stakeholders will vary in terms of stature they maintain in the organization, but individual differences in style almost guarantees interpersonal challenges amidst the organizational politics. In practice, we have to navigate a complex web to get what we want for us and for others. Efforts are building/rebuilding relationships can make the tightrope seem a little wider (or maybe not so high).
What are the real priorities here (or, at least, what should they be)?
Sticking with the “rope” metaphor (why abandon it now?), what happens when tightropes turn into tug-o-wars? Such situations tend to consume lots of effort, but provide disappointingly little in the form of results. Many of us are not in the position to impose our views on the organization, but we all can exert a degree of influence. Even when things are at cross-purposes, speaking truth to power can be scary. Is asking power for a small clarification any better?