Let’s face it: we live in an either-or society. You’re either with Us, or you’re with Them. You are either for it, or you are against it. How many times have you heard—or maybe even said to yourself!—that “It’s my way or the highway.” Is it any surprise these same divisions are present in the workplace too? Think about it: sales versus production, service providers versus support staff, baby boomers versus millennials, first shift versus second shift, management versus employees.
During our day-to-day interactions in the workplace, when we are not careful, it is all too easy to get embroiled in a debate with co-workers. Sometimes, even when we realize that we are not in the right, we dig in and defend our positions. Pride obscures our perception until we can’t see the truth, even though it’s right in front of us.
Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, people like to classify things. Life is easier when we see things as extremes opposing each other, keeping the world “black and white.” But life isn’t so easily classified. We need to take some time and develop more appreciation for The Gray Zone.
So, what’s The Gray Zone?
The Gray Zone is the place between. It’s not who is right in the workplace, but instead what is right.
Good communication in the workplace brings out the gray areas between the polarized black and white. When a solution is a Gray Zone solution, it will instantly help organizations improve relationships and achieve results. After all, there are few things as bulletproof as collaboration!
Here’s a quick snapshot of how Gray Zone solutions can function in your workplace:
Have you ever heard an employee say, “I did my share. I did my job.” Or maybe they say, “I did it last time.” Or, when things have gone wrong, try to pass the blame along, saying, “No one ever told me!”
Many leaders might write these employees off as simply having a bad attitude. But if this is a pattern, then that leader has not done their job in clearly assigning work to their team. After all, if everyone is responsible, then no one is. Instead of writing employees off as lazy or ill-mannered—turning your team into the them—find the Gray Zone. Leaders have an obligation to ask or tell their team how a job or assignment will be broken up. The leader can then hold individuals personally accountable for not carrying their weight. It stops being a question of who is right and becomes a question about what is right.
Change won’t come quickly unless you bring your team and yourself into The Gray Zone. People are naturally resistant to change. They want to know what’s in it for them if they go along with the change. Your employees and team are no exception. They’re biased! Make sure you communicate with your team so that they realize even if they are not directly benefitting from these changes, they are still benefitting indirectly. Again, it’s not about who is right, but what is right. And sometimes that means the business comes before the individual.
If you would like to learn more about my newest presentation, “The Gray Zone: It’s Not Who is Right, but What is Right,” contact me today! I welcome the opportunity to help you and your organization begin to benefit from improved workplace relationships—and see better results.