Objection, your Honour!

It’s not altogether surprising people get the words objection and objective confused. Sometimes you hear salespeople refer to overcoming objectives instead of overcoming objections (buyer resistance.) Freudian slip?

Most people find it dehumanising to be handed ‘down’ objectives by people ‘above’. The inherent social and emotional threat of someone in power turns the workplace into a game of gotcha and defensive evasion. Many experience a ‘boss’ as a judge, peering down from on high, examining the evidence to adjudicate a sentence. Neuroscience shows how this depletes resolve, inspiration and innovation.

People tell me how exhausting (even futile) the annual budgeting exercise seems. It makes me think there must be a better way for a collective group of smart people to work out their annual plan for collective success.

Many ‘people above’ try to overcome the inevitable battle of wills by throwing the hot potato to ‘people below’, asking them to set objectives. Almost as bad again, it can feel like a trap – somewhat like an organizational game of thrones.

I vividly recall an ‘aha’ moment when I saw two organizational culture flowcharts contrasting a Vicious Cycle from a Victorious Culture. Words to this effect:

External conditions demand higher performance….

  • people below (suppressed by a legacy of command & control) are stressed, suspicious and mistrustful
  • people above view people below as lacking initiative, drive and commitment
  • people below feel unable to reveal barriers
  • people above attempt to solve problems from above
  • people below feel trapped and overwhelmed
  • people above become impatient with people below
  • people above tighten controls
  • people below become more stressed and performance suffers
  • people above tighten controls………a vicious cycle.

Contrast that with:
External conditions demand higher performance……….

  • people are used to problem solving in collaboration with each other – there is no above and below
  • people open up and brainstorm, finding extra capacity to achieve more
  • people make necessary changes and see results
  • people feel excited at the progress, trust grows and information flows more freely
  • people contribute more and achieve more
  • confidence and capability grow and real gains are made in all areas of the business
  • people make more changes and see results
  • confidence and capability grow and real gains are made in all areas of the business…..a victorious culture.

Getting everyone on the same page begins with an appreciation of how smart people are. Just because you don’t see the genius in ‘people below’ doesn’t mean its not there. In any situation where some have more power than others, people are generally selective about where and how they contribute intelligence. The question is: under what circumstances do people empty the tank for collective success? Ask yourself: What does it take for me to get fully behind any venture, and you will most likely quickly identify what is true for most.

Remember: People own their brain. The ‘boss’ doesn’t own it. They alone are the autonomous director of super performance.
(Adapted from quote in Funky Business by Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell A. Nordström)


About Cherri Holland

Fascinated with business, brains and how to use the brains on the payroll to make business buzz.
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