… before you conclude that it’s a “Behavioral Pattern.”
Your employee is constantly having a problem with the rest of the team? You cannot afford to spend more time on that and want to eliminate the problem once and for all?
Whether you want to simply justify it to yourself or use it as ammo in the conversation with your own manager/HR, you can easily call it a “Behavioral Pattern” that you have identified in this person. Simple as that. Then hammer it on your way kicking them out.
You’ll probably live happily ever after too. However, …
Stop listening to your subconscious for a second, please!
… your solution has been: “elimination.”
It’s an effective one — especially when you have the authority to make the call on your own. It’s also very simple.
Believe it or not, dictators all around the world, big and small, do this a lot. Then, since the problem is gone, you will not have any data-point to evaluate what you have missed by this decision. There is only one single outcome here. Later, it will be simply only you and your self-affirming mind that will try to enjoy the much less stressful weekend ahead. If you are unlucky, you might have a little bit of guilt/doubt which gets washed away in a couple of weeks anyway.
The thought process behind that, also, might look so scientific to you! It might even bring some little sparkly joy to your detective self by finding out a pattern to find the root cause. But, is it?
Yes, the person in charge has had conflicts with three of her peers. Again, scientifically speaking, the likelihood of the problem being on her side is three times more than on the peers; if not mathematically by the power of three. So, you decide to go with the probabilities to pick the least inconvenient/risky option.
It all happens in your subconscious throughout the decision-making journey. That’s how the human species has survived tens of thousands of years in the wild nature — by staying safe and put.
However, as a manager in the 21st century, you are probably more than just your subconscious.
Doubt the probabilities
What if it’s not just her. What if it’s two teams, of different size, equally one team versus the other?
What if, going with the majority, makes the whole team have the same vision, which ends up being only one vision. Eventually, when the definition of “good” is becoming “don’t be different.” Doesn’t this look like dictatorship? So, at the root of it, you are basically eliminating democracy too.
Democracy is not just about allowing people to wear different shirt colors. Just the way “Diversity and Inclusion” is not only about different skin colors or restrooms people choose to attend. It’s about accepting the difference, and letting it be a value!
Different vs. Bad
So she is coming late to work every day. She brings up random excuses, that after a while are no longer creative. Is that a healthy “difference”? No!
If something is against the core values of your team, the constitution, then it can fairly be labeled as “bad.” Explaining it to people shouldn’t be hard most of the times, as the values are what they have agreed to when they signed up for this job.
But often times, it’s a challenge when it’s not about kinds of stuff in the constitutions. It’s about something “Different.” It’s exactly the type of problems in real life that makes lawyers rich! Actually, it’s a fun, and probably accurate, saying that whoever gets the best lawyer usually wins the case. Alas, in our situation, we cannot afford a prolonged case with years of prosecution and incarceration; we need to do something “fast, good, and cheap” as usual!
Being wise, and respecting democracy, the first step should be at least identifying whether we are talking about “bad” or “different.” Then we should be dead conscious about it and not let our laziness take the control of the moral compass!
Understanding, Valuing, and Promoting the Difference
It’s becoming a wonderful world that people can easily express their sexual differences and even celebrate that and have a parade in the street for that. At the heart of it, if we go below the skin, it’s a call for being proud of who you are. Why can’t we have it everywhere?
Certainly it shouldn’t be a tool in the toolkit for people to abuse. Not every a**hole employee deserves to promote their own unhealthy and uncool way of difference! But, a different opinion, raised politely with respect, passion, and positive intent definitely deserves being heard and acknowledged.
No matter if it’s 1-vs-3 or 1-vs-50, it must be heard. Please don’t let the identity (who we are) of your team be decided by “the majority.” Your “we” can be a winner unless it’s alive and dynamic.
As the most basic practice, you need to dedicate some portion of your time, either daily, weekly, or monthly, hearing a completely different opinion, and encourage people to feel safe to raise their voice, even if it’s one again all the others.
Set up a process, not a trap!
Open door policy, blah, blah, is sexy. Generally speaking, it’s probably less than 5% of the people in any organization that ever have the guts to go and talk to the CEO. From your side though, yes, you have made it effective by setting up policies for a policy. Good for you. But please don’t fool yourself.
Such an open door policy can easily lead into a trap; whether it’s unconscious favoritism by you, or childish (but true) jealousy by the peers, or the internal chaos with skip-reporting. Valuing “diversity” should be more than letting people pass that sacred door.
In fact, uniformity can happen in groups with open door policy too. Because the door shouldn’t be just your CEO’s office door. It should be everyone’s ear door.
Remember that as long as it’s only one door, even if the top leader is genuinely open-minded, we are still having micro-dictatorship in smaller groups.
That’s why “diversity” should be a value by itself. You should have a process for it that plants the seed in the mind and hear of every single manager, and ultimately every single member of the team.
Final word, Where to Start
Be honest with yourself. It’s okay if you or your whole team still cannot afford it. But at least please don’t feel good about it!
Hear both parties. “Because that’s the way we have always been doing this” or “Because that’s who I am” are not an objective way of defending against a challenge that comes from a warm heart and positive intention. It is, in fact, hostility in a rigid form, against care. Acknowledge that, be alive, and do something about it.
No matter if it’s 10 senior employees versus 1 passionate new member of the team, give it a chance — a fair and unbiased chance.
Yes, some people are not great at maintaining the exterior of their emotions or coming up with the most constructive wording of their ideas. Ask them and guide them to be as objective as they can.
In fact, it’s in supporting diverse opinions that you can let your team have a real 360 degree vision in many different angles.
It’s exactly what can let your team be a sun, brightening every path and direction; and not a flashlight, just helping you walk the predetermined path and miss a lot in the darkness!
Happy truly diversifying. : )