“a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deductible from those of the individual words (e.g., rain cats and dots, see the light).” ~Oxforddictionary.com
The past two days were ones best described in idioms:
A seemingly minor issue (in my humble view) soon became a situation that took a life of its own. I had done a little research about an issue that had cropped up recently in terms of the preferred method of handling incoming mail (fax, email or snail mail). I listened to what some of the issues were with the various methods we were using and I heard what people were looking for to make their jobs easier. Armed with that knowledge, I made a decision that I believed was a simple and effective mode of communication for day-to-day correspondence between internal and external parties.
Little did I know that out of the blue, reactions to this seemingly innocuous change would create a mountain out of a molehill. Emails were flying with comments that were a bit over the top and things quickly went to hell in a hand basket! I was thrown for a loop, that making a request to move from one form of communication to another would create such un uproar and it felt like some people really had an axe to grind for some reason.
I attempted to try to find the answers about what tipped everyone over the edge and as I started to unearth the sequence of events, I could see that I did not do a good job at the front end of this whole decision-making process by explaining the method to my madness. I did not effectively communicate from the beginning. I assumed since I had done my research, asked for solutions from several fronts and was able to come up with a simple solution that I was good to go…
I failed to effectively communicate because I missed a stakeholder group who would have to change their mode of communication and unfortunately how the message was delivered to them was not in a way that I had intended (as it became much more directive and inflexible as it went down the communication chain). The outcome is that it left a few people foaming at the mouth.
I bit my tongue as I was trying to get to the bottom of where the upset was coming from but it felt like people were beating around the bush. I am a straight shooter so when I get the sense that people are not being candid for some reason, it drives me up the wall. I knew I had to keep my chin up and to try maintain my composure while dealing with something that I frankly felt was an over-reaction… the little molehill in my back yard had become this huge mountain looming over my shoulder.
As one of the new kids on the block, I sometimes forget that there are more stakeholders than what I was used to in my old life and what may seem like a little blip on the screen may be a heart attack waiting to happen from someone else’s view.
So how am I going to climb this mountain that I unintentionally created? I am going to tether myself to the top, pulling myself up one foot at a time. I am going to be diligent in my assessment of any loose rocks to avoid throwing all of my weight on a precarious situation. I am not going to climb solo but surround myself with the team who can guide and throw me an extra rope if I need it…
As leaders, we will all stub our toe at times because we are the ones out front paving the trail. Stubbing our toes on roots or rocks is a way to remind us to be more observant of our surroundings. As leaders, most of us moved into our roles because we are good at making decisions and fixing things that may not be working so well. However, we need to be careful that we don’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes we get caught up in the little details and we forget to take a look from a higher vantage point to make sure we can understand the big picture.
What great idioms have you faced lately?