|May 28, 2012
from the desk of Chuck Violand...
Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—
In Part II of this series Dr. Bognar and Scott Tackett join me in discussing how Garbage Truck Behavior affects the people in our organizations, and the unintended consequences it so often produces in our companies.
THE LAW OF THE GARBAGE TRUCK, Part II
How our Behavior Affects our People
by Chuck Violand...
As an owner of a small business it’s easy to take privileges when it comes to handling our emotions. We might write off emotional outbursts as an example of our passion or entrepreneurial personality, but our people usually aren’t as forgiving and quickly become impatient with this type of behavior. They’re more inclined to view us as a knucklehead with power and authority; out of touch with how our actions affect them and the company.
The problem is we don’t see it, and it’s the rare employee who’s courageous enough to actually point out our shortcomings. Nor can most of us resort to a reality TV show like Undercover Boss to spotlight just how our behavior and decisions play out in the trenches. But make no mistake about it― our employees make sure their views are heard, through their actions if not always through their words.
Dr. Bognar: Chuck, Garbage Truck Behavior and Amygdala Hijackings characterize not only what I have personally experienced while working for organizations, but also one of the main reasons I am engaged as a consultant. It all boils down to relationships in the workplace and how those relationships are either supportive or damaging.
Allow me to share a personal experience that illustrates how Garbage Truck Behavior and Amygdala Hijackings affect employees and teams. Some years ago while employed in a small organization, I sat smack dab in the middle of two Amygdala Hijackings. While in a meeting with the two most senior leaders, the discussion escalated and there I sat horrified as two Amygdala Hijackings were taking place simultaneously. Talk about Garbage Truck Behavior! Not only were voices raised and accusations lobbed back and forth like the ball in a tennis match, it escalated to the point where one of the leaders threw a chair across the room.
Chuck: That had to be alarming! I thought chair throwing was confined to basketball courts. What did you do?
Dr. Bognar: What did I do? I sat there frozen with fear; hoping I wasn’t the next person in line to receive some type of violent behavior. After the argument subsided, I returned to my office in a state of shock and disbelief.
Based on my experience, and the experiences of my consulting clients, what do you think the long-term effect of this meeting was on my performance in that organization? If you guessed that my performance dropped and I kept my head down to stay out of trouble, you are right. Why did I resort to “head down” behavior? I was afraid that if I questioned either of those leaders and/or disagreed with any of their ideas, there would be another Amygdala Hijacking resulting in more garbage truck dumping and this time, it would be me under the pile of garbage!
Chuck: That wouldn’t be a fun position in which to be and I can’t imagine you would have been very effective doing the work you were hired to perform after that incident. I would also think it would make you question your choice of employer.
Dr. Bognar: I resigned four months later. As I reflect back on my personal experience, and hear stories related by my clients, it reinforces how Garbage Truck Behavior and Amygdala Hijackings impact organizations. It illustrates how fear can cripple our workplaces, resulting in employees not being fully engaged with one another and the clients and customers they serve.
Chuck: That was a very expensive argument those two business leaders had, Holly. I shudder to think how many other employees were affected the same way you were, and the incredible loss of productivity that resulted.
In Part III of this series Scott Tackett shares his own stories of Garbage Truck Behavior.
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