Tuesday, June 14, 2011

7 Steps to Stop Finger-Pointing in a Crisis

After any crisis -- like the economic crisis we now experiencing -- there is a lot of finger-pointing. Any tips on how to help my team avoid finger-pointing when we face a crisis?

You are making a great point. I have seen massive amounts of finger pointing on TV and on the internet this week.

Concerning our economic crisis - I have seen 'experts' blame the President, the Congress, Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, the free enterprise system, bankers, consumers, economists, regulators, deregulators, 'rich people' and even other competing 'experts.'
Strangely enough, I have seen very few people pointing the finger of responsibility at themselves!

It was be so refreshing to hear at least one person say, "One of the main reasons that our country is in trouble, is because people like me screwed up. I was really wrong on this one."

My suggestions to help your team avoid finger-pointing in a time of crisis:

1. Encourage everyone on your team to remember four words that can help all of you get though your crisis in the best way possible: help more, judge less. Reflect upon these four words. Aside from work, how many of us have friends and family members at home who might be happy if we 'helped' a little more - and 'judged' a little less?

2. Try to get team members to focus on a future that they can impact, not a past that they cannot change anyway. Have you ever made a fool of yourself in front of important people before? It was bad enough when it happened. Having others make you relive this 'fool making' experience is usually not that helpful.

3. Try to get people to take responsibility for their own behavior. Sometimes it is easier to see our own mistakes in other people than in the mirror. We may not be able to change what other people have done, but we can certainly change ourselves.

4. Ask each person to reflect on the question, "What can I learn from this crisis?" Anyone can provide leadership when times are easy. Great leaders - and great teams - step up when times are tough. Rather than get lost in whining, have each team member focus on how he or she can grow from this experience.

5. Ask everyone on your team to reflect on the question, "What can we learn from this crisis?" After each person's individual reflection, encourage your team to engage in collection reflection. Find ways to improve cross-team communication and build teamwork.

6. Encourage each team member to avoid speaking when angry or out of control. We all get angry. That is natural and completely appropriate. We just don't have to talk until we settle down and can collect our thoughts. Plenty of research has shown how our 'angry mind' can lead to irrational behavior that we later regret.

7. Before speaking don't just ask, "Am I correct?" - ask "Will this help?"Just because we believe that something is true, we don't have to say it. If our comment may be hurtful to individuals or destructive to teamwork, it can sometimes just be left unsaid.

Life is good.

Marshall

My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.

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