Culture & Community | By Scott Schulte,

How Do You Deal With Your Elephants?

Do you have dangerous things happening in your organization? Is there something you are constantly climbing over, ducking around or just plain avoiding?

Maybe it’s an underperforming sales team, an absent leader, or a cranky customer service rep.

Is your problem painfully obvious— like an elephant in the office? Or are your workplace issues more like snakes in the grass, just waiting for the right moment to jump up and bite you?

Both are equally dangerous. And they must be dealt with.

They say the first step to fixing any problem is recognizing that it’s there. But what matters most is what you choose to do at that point. Labeling a problem and then doing everything you can to avoid it only enhances your chances of getting stomped on by that elephant. Or bitten by those snakes.

So what should you do instead?

Speak up. And be persistent.

How many times have you brought up a concern only to have it rationalized as temporary, not worth fixing, or not as bad as you think? Sometimes you might even get sent away with a little pat on the head. “Relax,” they say, “That’s not actually happening.”

Maybe you’ve heard that others have tried to fix things in the past and have gotten nowhere. This might be true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep quiet or stop trying. Sometimes a problem needs to be identified multiple times, by multiple people before it becomes a priority. You could be that person who tips the scales or addresses the problem in a way that finally hits home. Or maybe you’ll just get lucky and catch the right person on the right day.

Finding the courage to speak up can be difficult, but it’s important to point out behaviors and processes that are causing harm.

Don’t let it pile up

We get it. Your therapist says you should let the little things go. And this can be great advice! But when you’re talking about bad business practices, little things can become big things very quickly.

If your company’s policy is to look the other way and let things slide, there could be serious trouble ahead. Not just for you, but for the entire organization.

If little things are piling up, they need to be addressed.

It’s not about complaining

No one likes a tattle-tale. But everyone loves the UPS man. Why? Because he delivers the stuff you need, when you need it.

Simply pointing out weaknesses or ranting about everything that’s been bothering you since the dawn of time isn’t the method you want to use. Approach your conversation in a professional manor, and put some thought into ways to fix the problem or improve the situation before you start the conversation.

Deliver your message like the UPS man would: quickly, efficiently, and with the best intentions.

Tackle that elephant!

Running a top notch organization isn’t for the faint of heart. If you see dangerous behaviors happening in your organization, find your inner fortitude and speak up.

Identify your concerns and the effects they’re having— or could potentially have. Then offer ideas for solutions. If you’re a company leader, listen to what your staff is saying, then summon the courage to make those difficult, but much needed changes.

Create and track performance indicators to get that sales team back on track.

Re-train your cranky customer service person.

Reel that absent CEO back in— or help him write his resume.

Make this your new normal now. Before the elephant tackles you.

Got an elephant that needs tackling? At Sonus, we help clients all throughout the Midwest identify organizational challenges and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to human resource management services, we’ve got you covered.

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