Remember the Empty Chair

March 1st, 2019 by Kelly Kienzle

Internal politics, personal drama, and conflicting viewpoints are what most often drain our energy at work.  We feel dragged down by the heaviness of trying to keep the peace, find middle ground or push our agenda through the sticky cog wheel of internal decision-making.

Finding Common Ground

Yet what if you found common ground on which everyone agreed?  How much easier is it to discuss strategy if everyone agrees on the outcome?  The common ground to be found in any successful organization is the dedication to the people your organization seeks to serve: your client, customers, or members.

Most everyone in your organization can agree that the best answer is the one that serves the client best.  Serving those individuals is what drives the success of your organization.  Thus, their viewpoint, experience and mindset about your organization is critical to keep front-and-center for every decision.

How do you keep that shared goal visible to everyone on your team?

Keeping Purpose Visible

Experiment with placing an empty chair at the table at your next meeting that represents your clients.  Label or mark it in some way that reflects the group of people you are serving. Perhaps even give him/her a name and a personality!

Seeing that empty chair will remind everyone that the voice of the most important group is not in the room.  That empty chair will remind them to give voice to that group.

The Chair Comes First

Then, if the conversation starts to devolve into one side versus another, revert back to the common ground that all sides share: We exist to serve our clients. What do they want us to do?  What is most important to them?  How will our decisions today affect them?

Then the conversation shifts away from personal grievances and ideology-clinging and towards a united, compassionate team moving towards the same goal.


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