[Updated: September 12, 2017]
Going against the grain
By VINESH NAIDU
Psst… hey, you. Yes, you, the leader. I heard that you have been thinking about your team and the dynamics that come with it.
Every leader wants to ensure that their workplace is united and cohesive in achieving a common goal. Come on, where is the fun in all that goodness and kumbaya?
Let there be chaos! Let there be disharmony! Let there be unhappiness! Let darkness prevail!
Leave the goody two shoes in HR (human resources) to deal with the burden of creating a united organisation.
Let’s go have some fun. And to accelerate that process, let me share with you just a few nuggets of wisdom on how to ensure you create a legacy of disunity at the workplace.
Go on and read on – you know you have come to the right place to enrich your management repertoire!
1. Clarity is overrated
The fastest way to ensure you disrupt unity is by not providing enough clarity. Why?
Because when there is a lack of clarity, it creates space for people to interpret what they consider to be the best way forward.
This in turn enables multiple assumptions to be made.
The recipe becomes that much more potent when you ensure that you do not provide space for people to ask questions and clarify end objectives.
Be strong. Do not give in to those pesky questions that the minions come up with. They are supposed to just DO. Not ASK.
So to ensure there is sufficient disunity in the organisation, your job as the leader of disunity is to be as unclear as possible.
Say different things to different people at different times. It is their job to figure things out. That’s what they are being paid for, aren’t they?
You are the genius with the wonderful mind brimming with wonderful ideas. How can you be expected to be clear on just ONE thing?
“I think, therefore I am… confused.” – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
This is the best way to ensure there is turmoil in the workplace. Ensure you spend enough time talking about other people and their perceived shortcomings to as many other people as you possibly can.
You don’t have to have seen or heard anything in person. It is enough that you might have overheard just a part of an ongoing conversation to pass it on.
And you know what the best part is? You don’t need face-to-face meetings to gossip. The eternal space that is social media is awaiting your juicy stories!
It doesn’t censor; it doesn’t judge your input. It is an amazing enabler of gossip to permeate your whole organisation.
So ensure you wholeheartedly take to gossiping to ensure the organisation is always kept in excited chitter chatter!
After all, it is the leader’s role to ensure that there is excitement in the workplace.
“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” – Socrates
3. Criticism as the new inspiration
Dealing with difficult people, a.k.a. people other than yourself, is a tough job. As a result, you have no choice but to be tough about it.
And what better way than to be point blank about what the situation is with your team? So, criticise.
Emotional quotients are for the unadventurous. Be direct and do it in public. That saves you the trouble of having to repeat yourself the next time someone decides to make the same mistake.
Do not worry about an employee’s development nor the fact that their emotional wellbeing might be affected to the extent that productivity is impacted. Life happens.
There is no need to have two-way conversations. After all, the leader’s role is to give feedback, and criticism is feedback.
Recommended for you: Authentic Unity Comes With A Measure Of Divisiveness
4. Ensure you have a favourite
Nothing fosters disunity like segregating the subjects that you rule. And once you have segregated them, make sure the next step of choosing and then favouring the chosen few is highlighted to the rest of your subjects.
Use all the tools and power at your disposal. Promote them without reason. Pay them more than anyone else.
Ensure they are the only ones that get special privileges like having flexible hours at work. And don’t forget to ask if they would like fries with that.
This is a foolproof way to create disunity amongst the masses as jealousy and resentment will become the overwhelming emotions that prevail.
This might interest you: Where Did Our Unity Go?
5. Avoid fun
Last, but not the least, avoid allowing any opportunities for fun within the team. This is a surefire way to create unity.
When people have fun, they form camaraderie, and when people enjoy camaraderie, they tend to want to look out for each other.
And when people start looking out for each other, they start forming bonds. This allows unity to become a building block of growth for the organisation! No, no, no!
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
Now take all of these sage words of advice and ensure you stay strong in the face of resistance and demonstrations of employee pushback.
The end objective is to create as much disunity as possible and there is no better mix other than to bulldoze your way through using just some of the aforementioned tools.
For the uninitiated, our contributor Vinesh Naidu has found yet another way to jolt us to attention by turning conventional wisdom on its head. Do read on!
Unsticking the tongue from the cheek
If, on the other hand, you actually want to be a purveyor of unity in the organisation, then please ensure you do the EXACT opposite of the advice so clearly articulated above.
Without unity, everything crumbles. Humans are social beings and therefore unity is a default mechanism of existence. But why then is unity so elusive?
Simple. It’s not easy to bring people together.
Everyone comes to adulthood with a fully developed ego regardless of personal achievements; power struggles; negativity; a natural tendency to play politics; and a misplaced sense of entitlement.
When coupled with weak leadership and mismanagement, this prevents any team from uniting and performing at their highest level.
The unfortunate truth is that there is an overwhelming number of forces that are always willing and able to throw the proverbial spanners into the work of your organisation, teamwork, unity and success.
Comrades of unity
Unity can only happen when leaders are committed to and engaged in the process of building a united, winning team. This is not as simple as it may sound, however good the intentions are.
Creating and sustaining unity requires focus on the bigger dreams, as well as dedicated time and energy towards realising those dreams.
Unity occurs when team members place their own agenda secondary to the vision, purpose and health of the organisation. Mindset and paradigm change are essential steps towards achieving unity.
The leader’s job is to ensure that each person on the team can clearly see how their personal vision and effort contributes to the overall vision and success of the team.
This involves meaningful conversations. It calls for a clear communication of ideals across the organisation.
It calls for a culture of empowerment and feedback, rather than gossiping and criticism. And it most definitely requires that people are treated fairly.
At the end of the day, justice and unity are two ends of the knot that simply cannot be cut.
See also: United We Stand, Divided We Fall
So this Malaysia Day, let’s reflect on what truly bonds us as Malaysians.
What are the building blocks of unity that has brought us this far in our journey, and what is going to allow us to continue to go forth and leave an impact on this earth?
We might not be able to push unity through at the national level overnight, but a nation is after all the collective psyche of its people and their socio-economic organisations.
Therefore you do have a circle of influence that you can work on to ensure unity becomes part of our national identity.
Happy Malaysia Day, my fellow Malaysians!