RSS Own Each Other’s Issues

As a parent, there are times when you must strictly enforce “house rules” in such a way as to help teach a child an important lesson. I can think of many such personal examples while raising my three daughters, each of who, have become terrific young women. One lesson that needed to be reinforced with each of them was the matter of a curfew as they became teenagers. Now, I’ll admit I was not the most liberal parent in terms of allowing my daughters the freedom they felt they needed.  However, neither was I the most conservative either. I didn’t mind them hanging out with friends, having fun, but I did mind what time of night (or morning) they came home, and whether or not what they were up to was both safe and legal. Hopefully I’m not the only parent that worries about that. 

Anyway, it is interesting for me to look back now and reflect upon the types of conversations I had with each of my daughters around the curfew issue. If I were to do it all over again, rather than simply communicating with them to seek a common understanding of the related issues (worried parents and a lack of parental trust) I might go a step further and try to get each of us to “own” each other’s issues. To be more specific, I wonder what type of outcomes might have been realized had I spent more time teaching the importance of embracing the opposing perspective, than I had simply enforcing my parental responsibilities. 

It’s not so different in the world of business. Frequently issues arise where opposing views, differing opinions, and even interdepartmental strife can adversely affect the productivity or profitability of an organization. In commerce, it’s not always easy to say one perspective, opinion or department is better or more valued than another. Business just doesn’t work that way. What can happen when these types of issues develop in the workplace is that the individuals involved may often go to other individuals in the organization to “make their case,” which can create unnecessary ill will. 

In my view, business leaders cannot tolerate these types of issues, or the individuals who tend to perpetuate negative cultural influences. Leaders must expect open and honest dialogue within their organizations, departments and teams, such that the internal “issues” are owned by the affected parties and dealt with expeditiously, so as to not have a lasting impression on the organization. Let me share a specific example that might be happening in the business world today as a result of the difficult economic environment. 

Many businesses have had to cut staff in order to remain viable, however it’s possible that different departments within an organization are impacted differently. Jealousies may develop within the organization when one department is perceived as not “hurting” as much as another department, which may or may not be the case. The fact that this perception has been created isn’t the real problem. The problem becomes an “issue” when these perceptions are fostered or not addressed with immediately by the leaders of each of these teams. They need to communicate with each other to the point that they “own” each other’s perceptions and realities such that each department can be successful. 

In my personal example above, the end result is that both the parent and the child achieve a greater sense of happiness or peace. In the business example, it’s all about creating or sustaining individual and organizational success. In both instances it’s all about strong communication, and about a shared mindset that your issues are my issues. Come to think about it, I wonder what the world might be like if our governmental leaders had this same perspective?

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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