Recently, we held a webinar with VitalSmarts about Crucial Conversations and its effect in the workplace. I was astonished to learn about the staggering cost of silence in an organization. As Chase McMillan pointed out, there are two immediate responses to conversations involving high stakes, strong emotions, and opposing views: violence and silence. "Silence starves the discussion; it decreases the collectively IQ of the group. There is less buy-in for the discussion,“ Chase noted.
According to a VitalSmarts survey, the problem is much more pervasive than one would think. 72% of workers fail to speak up when a fellow worker fails to pull their weight. 68% don't speak up when they see someone disrespected, and 55% fail to speak up when there is confusion about decision rights. Silence is not only pervasive, but it's also extremely costly. Each failed conversation costs an average of $7500 in time and resources, and employees waste seven days or more.
Wow! I told you it was a shock to the system! So, how do you combat such an enormous problem? The first thing is you need is to have a system in place to see most problems before they hit you like a freight train.
At Rhythm Systems, we use Red-Yellow-Green success criteria for all of our priorities, KPIs and initiatives throughout the year. We can see the status of the priorities every week during our weekly meetings. If we see a yellow or red on any priority, it's time for a discussion. We also encourage priority owners and other team members to comment on the priority so they can collaborate to solve problems.
We try our best to create a safe environment with a shared pool of meaning so we can get things back on track. During our weekly meeting, we share victories at the beginning and then we delve into what needs work. We even created a fun video highlighting the differences between bad meetings and good meetings.
We also have an employee health index, which measures how employees feel about their workload and stress level. Like I mentioned before, if anything comes up yellow or red, it's time to discuss what is going on.
Of course, we are not perfect, and sometimes we have to sit down and have a crucial conversation. I would highly recommend checking out the webinar and VitalSmarts. Do you have any conflict tips you could share? How does your organization deal with high-stress conflict?