Success is always powered by truth. In business, you can only be successful if you’re looking at your business truthfully. And of course, every business will have those many moments where things are simply awkward. For other businesses, things are constantly awkward.
As tempting as it might be for purist business owners and managers who like to focus on only the work at hand, there are several reasons you should never ignore the elephant in the room.
– It’s inevitable that a small elephant will remain an elephant; in fact, in time it’s sure to become a bigger elephant. In other words, your problem isn’t going away. There will come a time that you’ll have to deal with it and you’re better off nipping it in the bud. It’ll cost you less time and hassle if you treat the problem with effective precision from the get-go.
– While you’ve been trying to ignore the elephant in your office, you can be sure that it hasn’t been sitting still. Any figurative elephant is usually a situation out of control – and a situation out of control is like a downward spiraling plane. It’s going to crash at some point. It’s going to be a disastrous scene. And it’s going to cost you heavily. Keep in mind that while you’re trying to ignore the problem, it’s busy creating a stampede in people’s minds and making a mess of your business.
– Depending on the nature of your little Dumbo, you can also pretty much calculate that company morale will quickly plummet while you keep busy with blinders. While your staff or co-workers may not talk to you about the problem, they’re definitely talking among themselves. If you’re in a position of leadership, this move undermines your authority. If you’re a small business owner, you simply can’t afford dissenting employees.
– Not taking care of the grey bottom of this plump little elephant ensures that it’s going to eat up your bottom line. An elephant in the room is going to cost you money. Whether it’s through poor PR, lowered morale, miscommunication, rumors or most likely a continuation of the problem in the future and perhaps even in other areas, not dealing with a problem ensures its growth (and often its duplication). A business that cannot see itself truthfully certainly can’t inspire confidence in clients – which will cost you in profits and reputation.
Before you can act on the problem, you have to understand what the problem is. If your office is rampant with politics, it’s probably because the situation grew beyond control; all current complaints and grievances however can be found in one or two root causes, which is another reason why it’s crucial to nip them in the bud.
Understanding the problem is key. Most office politics arise out of discordant employees, poor management, preferential treatment, workplace dissatisfaction including environment and limited growth opportunity, and finally poorly managed talent.
Whatever shape or form your elephant may come in, show leadership and set the bar for what you expect of your team members by addressing the problem head on. If you’re dealing with one individual, you can always speak privately to address the issue. If it’s a bigger problem or client-related issue, try collaborating as a team. This is a good time to solicit team concerns and proposed solutions. You’ll likely be impressed with the level of creativity and input, which inadvertently teaches you a lot about your own team and helps spot rising stars. And lastly, if it’s a company wide issue, try conducting a workshop to help people understand a specific problem (including how to cope with it in the future).