April 9, 2014

The trouble with black holes

In January we ran an AXIS initiative with the senior management team of a global manufacturing company in India. The results were surprising and inspiring. But there were also critical lessons learned in the importance of balancing tolerance with corporate wellness.

One of the executive leadership team members was quietly thought of as a "black hole". Everyone avoided him as much as possible because he was so negative that it was, at best, difficult to work with him and, at worst, exhausting and debilitating.

When we conducted his AXIS debrief, there was this pivotal moment when he realised the impact he was having on others. That wake up call sparked such a deep insight that he became a positive, contributing member of the executive team. Three months later and he's still great.

So many organisations tolerate bad behaviours without realising the impact on others. Often this is because interventions seem just too hard. People hate those difficult conversations. 

But bad behaviours are like Leprosy - contagious, but treatable. Those difficult conversations can actually be tremendously productive, when conducted within the right framework. That's where AXIS has been proven to offer invaluable assistance...taking the difficult out of conversations and facilitating an unbiased examination of behaviours and perfomance that enables people to reflect, learn and change.

Just like people with Leprosy, our human black holes are often isolated, tolerated, managed or criticised. Some actually do need to be moved out because they just aren't willing to make a change and their actions are too destructive for the culture to tolerate.

Most though just need a non-judgemental, unbiased conversation to initiate reflection and learning. 

Companies need to keep a watch on the wellness of the culture and be aware that one or a few can have a fundamental effect on a large group of people. But any conversation needs to come from a neutral place. That's how you initiate powerful change.

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