I’ve had a very happening week and thought it would be nice to share that part of it with you which really gave me a lot of food for thought. The incident got me thinking and made me come up with my version of organizational effectiveness. Yes, I’m not talking about the organizational effectiveness that you find in organizational development and learning and development books. This is my take on the subject and what I feel about it!
So let me start by telling you about the incident that got me thinking.
It all started with a team building session that took place earlier this week.
This was a session where we were going to bring back to life an old game that we had played with one of our clients more than 4 years back. Back then, it had been hilarious and a lot of fun and we were determined to bring it back with an even bigger bang this time. So we went through each and every instruction of the game and made changes to make it appropriate for the current team. The four of us actually sat and discussed it multiple times so that we could catch on to all those instructions that were either missing or seemed ambiguous. We wanted it to be perfect and spent a good 2 to 3 days time on the game. Finally after innumerable discussions, we came up with something that looked really good and strong.
The day of the session then arrived. We were as excited as the participants were and also confident that we had done a good and thorough job on the game. We were really excited to see how it was going to unfold.
We gave the instructions to each of the teams and they started deciphering them. It was all going smoothly and we were able to easily answer all the questions posed by the participants. It was only when my colleague started explaining one of the levels in detail to the entire class that I realized something was wrong!
While he was explaining the level, I realized his explanation was different from what I had understood of it. I could immediately feel a rush of emotion and a strong reaction bubbling up within me. I wanted to immediately tell him that what he was saying was wrong. It was different from what we had discussed and he was going to make a mess of the game with his explanation!
It was then that luckily my years of practicing Mindfulness came to my rescue and prevented me from creating any kind of disruption. On one hand I could see that I had an intense urge to speak and on the other I knew speaking wasn’t going to help in the current situation. I had a war raging inside me and had to really make an effort to hear the rest of the instructions whilst my mind was giving me other instructions! Again and again I urged my mind to listen to this ‘different instruction’ or else I would be at a loss if the team I was in charge of asked me any query on that level. I had to now go with what my colleague was saying to ensure that we were on the same page and there was no confusion. I had to really make an effort to listen rather than get carried away by the emotional hijack my system was going into , where I would land up blaming my colleague for messing up on the instructions. It was really difficult but eventually somehow I was able to pull through.
This brings me to my first learning from the incident:
- Resist the urge to react
We all are like little volcanoes, ready to erupt and blame each other. Resist the urge to do that. I don’t advocate suppressing your reaction but only say that you must try to control it at that moment. Once you calm down you will be in a better condition to deal with the situation. Saying things at that moment can cause disruption and may make you say things you really didn’t mean and may regret later.
I also learned another thing:
- Learn to be flexible
Sometimes you may need to adapt to what others are saying even if its against what your mind is telling you. Again am not saying that you need to keep giving in to others, am just saying that sometimes you may need to adapt to others. Imagine what would have happened if I had refused to go with my colleague’s instructions? We would have had a very poor game with different facilitators giving different instructions and the participants being really confused.
Now guess what happened next? When I finally heard what my colleague had to say, I realized that what he was saying was also right! He had seen the same activity in a very different light and derived a different meaning out of it. There was nothing wrong in the meaning that he had derived. It was only different, different from the meaning my mind had created.
This brings me to my third learning:
- Let’s respect our differences
We need to realize that we are all wired differently and interpret things differently. We have had different past experiences which give rise to differences in our perceptions. These make us understand the same thing in different lights. We need to remember that it’s alright if someone thinks differently from us and need to appreciate the diverse and holistic understanding it can bring about. After all, we all have constricted views and really can’t see all the views on our own!
If we can implement just three learning’s we can really go far as an organisation and it will really contribute to organizational effectiveness. We will learn to first hear and then accept each other’s opinions. I realize that very often other’s have really good views but its because of our humongous reaction capacities that we tend to miss out on them!
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