“Give me the facts of the case” . “What were the specific numbers?”, “Who is saying this policy will not work?” “Where is the data?” etc etc.
We are now living in times that are embodied with variables and complex dynamics which have to be managed for effective decision making. And if in this environment we try and deploy unidimensional methods of decision making, the type that only rely on “Facts of the case” we may be in the danger of oversimplifying matters and ignoring key decision making variables.
It is of course, an imperative to look at all facts in situations that demand decision making, critical thinking etc. Holding back the urge to jump to quick decsions and unearthing data to make better sense of a situation at hand is not an easy skill. And when this is ignored, it is invariably to the detriment of the solution or judgement.
My point simply is that this may not be enough anymore. Not long back, I know of an organization that was considering moving its office from location A to location B. There was every plausible reason and rationale for that change. Everyone agreed with it, including the employees. Effective communication was done over months and activities were planned to include each member of the team. Yet a week before the move, the HR Manager began to hear murmurings of discontent. As these murmurings grew consistently, she realised that this change was triggering discontent which was bringing to surface issues other than the move of office location!!
The feeling of how a lot of things needed to be looked into. Including how they felt about the leave policy, growth prospects in the organzation etc. She reported this immediately, to her boss – the HR director. Her view was that open discussions need to happen to understand & deal with these feelings. The director, known for his maturity, remarked – Who are the people saying this? Give me facts. Have we not taken everyone along? We are doing everything correct. Why talk about feelings? Everyone here is an adult and can deal with their feelings.
Months later, a growing trend of poor productivity and high attrition was observed. The Engagement survey reported much lower levels of engagement. Something had happened because something had been disregarded in favour of the “facts”.
The fact is: Organizations are made up of people who respond to situations logically and emotionally. While most leaders are comfortable exploring facts to get a better sense of a situation – feelings are dismissed and disregarded. This is just one situation, organisations are facing many such situations and not being able to adapt to the new dimension of decision making – the fact that feelings matter!
Would it be a better idea to understand feelings as we understand facts, explore where and why they surface when they do and enable others to deal with them. Maybe ask others what would help them to cope with their feelings, what actions would they like to take etc - after unearthing & understanding the feeling?
So much of what we do is driven by our feelings and not only our logical mind. By ignoring or glossing over feelings, we are certainly not addressing all the facts of the case.
This is Part -1 on this topic. Part -2 will be published soon