Workforce Performance Solutions - May 2006 - (Page 18)

WP0506_A.qxd 4/27/06 11:49 AM Page 18 viewpoint eutralists: Silent Killers of Productivity and Innovation Vincent M. Cramer investigative processes to uncover Neutralists are spreading like a virus me, I decided to take the small step data and to establish facts. Not only throughout the body of corporations over the linguistic chasm from posi- do events leave evidence after the and government agencies. They act, tivity to double negativity. After all, fact, there are usually clues that might rather they in-act, independently and double negatives cancel each other, have forecasted that an event would stealthily from an embedded position resulting in a positive statement, take place. There is a universal in the organization. They reveal them- making the phrases synonymous. example of this point. Before an auto- selves only when they speak with So, what is the harm? mobile engine seizes and dies, it words that are comforting and seduc- might have leaked oil. If the tively reassuring. But beware: they leak and its cause were undermine an organization's efforts As a leader, the three to be effective, productive and innovative. Neutralists are most important components of detached, nonaligned and non- committal. Having no particular responsibility are to unify the team, affiliation, their detection is difficult. make decisions and meet objectives. I Don't Disagree I clearly remember the first time The harm is that corporations will that I heard the phrase, I don't dis- detected before its harmful effects experience poor performance, and it agree. A member of my team were felt, serious consequences might be the first step on a slippery uttered those words during a deci- could have been avoided. slope from which organizations sion-making session. My first reac- The leaking-oil metaphor in the orga- begin their demise. That's one non- tion was to recoil from the phrase as nizational engine is poor communi- committal step for man; one giant if I were an English professor. It is a cation and ineffective collaboration. leap for failure. I view the double double negative and not grammati- Allowing neutralists to impact collab- negative as the proverbial canary in cally acceptable. Because the per- orative workgroups is analogous to a the mineshaft. It is a sign that por- son making the statement was in mechanic ignoring the shiny wet spot tends danger, disaster and defeat. my organization, I felt compelled to on the garage floor during an engine bring the faux pas to his attention. As a leader, the three most important tune-up. Effective leadership and components of responsibility are to To my surprise, he told me that he decision-making cannot allow neu- unify the team, make decisions and intended to state his position that tralists to blow the engine! meet objectives. I always believed way and that he had no intention of Before you can do something cor- that the first and last are anchored by rephrasing his remark into a declar- rectly, you must first stop doing it the middle. How can a leader ative statement. He said that he did- incorrectly. If you are the leader of achieve this team trifecta if the foun- n't agree with the statement made a group, or the manager of a team, dation of decisions is based on non- by another member of the team, so it is critically important that every- disagreement? Such decisions have he could not say that he agrees with one in your organization be a certi- two dangers. First, everyone on the her, but he can say that he doesn't fiable contributor. Do not let anyone team reaps a reward for an effective disagree with her. I thought that his May 2006 hide behind slippery phrases such decision but neutralists have per- explanation amounted to a differ- as not disagreeing. Ensure that sonal and professional deniability for ence without a distinction. everyone in the organization is fully a failed decision. In failure, a neutral- I felt that he was parsing his words engaged and contributing at every ist will remind the team that he or she WORKFORCE a little too finely for my liking. To my stage of collaboration and deci- did not agree with the decision, but in surprise, no one else in the group sion-making. fact, didn't disagree with the decision. took issue with the phrase, leaving When the votes are counted, be me isolated in my own world of Fix The Leak performance SOLUTIONS sure that the total yeas and grammatical precision. nays is equal to the number of Forensics is a fascinating science as people on the team. It is important we have seen in the television series Decision-Making that you don't disagree with this CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. That Leaks Oil N recommendation. Forensics is the use of science and With the numbers stacked against Vincent M. Cramer is the author of Cramer's Cube. He is also the founder of Winchester Consulting Group, an organizational development and training company spe- cializing in the principles of Cramer's Cube and its application to leadership, innovation and diversity asset management. He can be reached at 18

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Workforce Performance Solutions - May 2006

Editor's Letter
Table of Contents
Change Management
Human Performance
Strategic Alignment
Advertiser's Index
Editorial Resources
Full Potential

Workforce Performance Solutions - May 2006