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Archive for September, 2013

Monkey Business

Most of my clients believe I work alone. But they are unaware of my three assistants. They reside in my office and are quietly perched on the end table next to my couch ready to be called on at a moment’s notice.

They are the patron saints of conflict avoiders—the monkeys See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. I often call upon them when I see a manager or employee who is engaging in one of these time-honored behaviors.

See No Evil

“What elephant in the living room?” might be the cry of the See No Evil crowd.
These are the ignorers. Certain employees are continually late to meetings. Didn’t see it. Project due dates are routinely missed. Don’t know what you’re talking about.
Or maybe it is a boss who clearly shows favorites. It’s as if it never took place.

Hear No Evil

The tree falls in the forest but doesn’t make a sound so nothing happened. At least that’s what the Hear No Evil people want us to believe. Disgruntled clients complain about employees who don’t return phone calls or emails. Didn’t hear it. Employees complain about peers who are not reliable or dependable. Huh?

Or maybe its employees frustrated that their bosses don’t ever seem to act when confronted with stories of coworkers not pulling their weight. What was that again?

Speak No Evil

“I don’t know what to say.” “It’ll just open a can of worms.” These are some of the classic lines of the Speak No Evil folks. Clients make inappropriate comments. Nothing is said. Subordinates are argumentative or even insubordinate. No comment. Mangers publically ridicule and embarrass staff. No mention is made of it.

Addressing the Problem

How one chooses to avoid confronting unhealthy and dysfunctional behavior is not the issue. None of the three approaches outlined is more or less unhealthy than the other. But all of these behaviors must be confronted. When you see or hear it, acknowledge and address it. When someone doesn’t speak up, say something. When you speak, though, speak about the behavior not the person. Tell the individual what you want them to do rather than what you don’t like. Practice correction not criticism. Be sure you are responding to the situation and not reacting.

Status quo is a lie.
Left unattended things get worse.
There is never a good time to make a tough decision.
Fail to address wrong when we see it, and we become part of the problem.
See the “evil.”
Hear the “evil.”
Speak to the “evil.”
Do it tactfully and appropriately.
Pick your spots—but do it.
What is at stake may be nothing less than the health of your organization.
Addressing these behaviors in a timely fashion is the only way this “monkey business” will truly stop.

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488