Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The community organization had bogged down. Its membership was stagnant and there were few programs that would attract members.

One faction wanted to launch a series of programs that would bring in members and raise the organization's profile. Another faction claimed to want the same thing, but continually found ways to hobble the outreach efforts. It quickly gained a reputation of negativity with the first group.

What the first group finally realized was that the second really didn't want new members, but instead preferred a low-key organization which would focus on smaller projects and not have to grow.

The lack of candor on the part of the "low-profile" group had avoided direct conflict while wasting sizable amounts of time of resources. Their passive-aggressive approach was not adopted with any ill intent. Its practitioners thought that once the outreach programs failed, then a less energetic approach would be more appealing.

What they didn't count on was that the outreach efforts worked. The programs did appeal to members and generated an excitement the organization had not experienced in years. All of that was regarded with silent horror by members of the second group since it did not fit their definition of success.

The ultimate conflict could have been prevented if, from the beginning, the second group had simply been candid.

The workplace contains frequent reminders of the relationship between basic virtues and decent performance.


Cultural Offering said...

Give me a good argument (debate) to get the issues out on the table and discussed.
I think that we have stigmatized disagreement.
As a result, too many people are left guessing what too many other people want.
Thanks for posting.

Michael Wade said...

You're absolutely correct.

Far better to have an honest disagreement than a fake peace. Far too many people hide their feelings when they should be saying, "Hold on. I have a problem with that. Let's talk some more about it."

The Engineer said...

I don't know that the conflict would have been avoided but it could have been addressed much sooner.

Michael Wade said...

I don't think the conflict would have been avoided had the disagreement surfaced earlier but there would have been much less damage to trust. By pretending to agree while indirectly resisting the outreach projects, the dissenters assumed the appearance of saboteurs.