Recently, we worked with an IT Director who had been trying to deal with several staff members whose performance had been marginal and whose interpersonal style was particularly thorny. Not much that he had tried had worked – yet! And he’d grown frustrated and was even questioning his own competence. The usual framework for such problem solving is to emphasize the organization’s compelling need for his dealing with performance problems, which is important.
However, in this case, it was clear that the Director was focused only on the organization’s need; we helped him to recognize that he had a personal interest that was also legitimate and important! We discussed that his effectiveness and resulting reputation were at stake with other direct reports, who were all too aware of the performance problems with their colleagues. His reputation was also on the line with his peers and his own manager. We helped him to get beyond reservations that in broadening his focus to include his own interests he was being inappropriately selfish or small minded.
We urged him to realize that he himself is an important organization resource and that his credibility is not only in his own interest but also in the organization’s – for the present and for the future. In essence, we helped him to discover the inter-connectedness of his personal self interest and that of his organization. By focusing on himself as part of the picture, he was able to tap into new clarity and new strength, which helped him discover the best direction to pursue with his staff members, which guided him to more effective managerial action to resolve the performance issues.
Sometimes, being focused on oneself is exactly what will get positive action to happen!