Tagged: colleagues

Eliminate Smoke Blowing


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I feel one of the toughest things to do in a team is pull someone up for exaggerating or fabricating the truth to make them appear hard working, professional or with greater expertise than may in fact be the case or indeed to cover up the reality they may not understand the expectations whatsoever.

I just read this post by Dan Rockwell where he identifies 10 tactics that produce brilliant solutions.   The two that stood out for me were the following;

Ask tough questions. One of the saddest things I’ve seen leaders do is listen to bull crap. Exposing smoke-blowers motivates people to prepare for meetings and discussions.

Terminate drifters and butt kissers. They just take up space and drain vitality from real workers. Spend time with honest hard thinkers.

It actually takes me back to a lecturer I had at University back in the mid 90’s, as a group of students we knew that we could sabotage the entire 2 hour workshop by setting our lecturer off on an unrelated tangent by prompting him with different ethical issues.  He loved to talk and we took absolute advantage of this, and rarely ever had to complete our readings because we were never accountable to respond of reflect upon them. Two hours would be over before he had a chance to ask any questions about our required tasks or homework.

The same can happen though when people within a team take up air time sprouting fanciful accounts minimising the opportunity to actually get on with the real work, in an attempt to avoid the tough questions. Especially if they’re allowed to.

So here-in lies the challenge.  We work with people, with sensitivities, insecurities and different mindsets including the need to be admired by peers. How do we create an environment where people can be challenged to be honest both with their peers and themselves, by asking tough questions in a supportive environment where it then becomes more acceptable to respond “I have not done that”, “I don’t know how to do that”, “I need help to understand what is expected”.

How do we make it more admirable to admit that we are having difficulty or don’t know what to do, as opposed to affirmed for making stuff up to avoid “being found out”?

Perspective Matters

Huge Blinders by emilio labrador

Huge Blinders, a photo by emilio labrador on Flickr. cc

Recently I reconnected with an educator I hadn’t seen for a while.  I cherish these opportunities because a fresh set of eyes can betray the things you take for granted.

It is so easy to become complacent in our actions, behaviours, standards and expectations especially when we work in a busy environment where it is a constant challenge to keep our eyes on the big picture.  When an “outsider” comes in and can feel the culture, see the interactions, hear the conversations and see the environment without the blinkers we develop over time, it can open our eyes to things that have become “part of the furniture”.

I consider myself a passionate professional, whom does not shy from a challenge nor turn a blind eye to things I deem destructive or inappropriate. Yet I was surprised to acknowledge that my own complacency over certain things was potentially being detrimental to myself , my staff and my school. Huge wake up call and one I am extremely grateful for.

So who is providing you with a fresh perspective?  Is it adequate to discuss your professional practice only with those within our own schools?