Defense! Defense! is great for a sports team, but can be bad for an organization. Organizations are a sum of many parts and to ensure organizational success, it is imperative that everything, and everyone, functions at their best.
When you are going for the gold, defensive employees are bad news.
Defensive employees can be impossible to reason with. They can be blinded by ego or anger and driven by an insatiable need to be right. They can perceive questions as threats and lock horns at the first hint of a challenge.
Collaborative problem solving comes to a halt, organizational goals are subordinate to personal agendas and when allowed to continue, the repercussions of defensive behaviors are felt across the organization.
There's no denying that every organization has a defensive employee (or two) and that they are a problem however, if you look hard enough at the crabby, stone age rock heads, you can uncover a few gems.
Watch for the employees who attempt to or are able to respond with a level head to retorts by defensive employees. Watch for the ones who see through the bluster and who do not get into the muck. Take a look at those who take the high road and know when to sort through the junk, when to steer clear of the madness, and when to simply shake their head and sigh.
They may not get it right all the time but they are aware and they are trying. Find them, dust them off and shine them up. Encourage them and mentor them. They are your diamonds in the rough.
Although organizations can uncover some gems when dealing with defensive employees, they don't need the defense present to do so. It is poison to your organization and must be addressed directly. Some employees will respond and others will not.
For those that don't, send them to the mine to pound rocks, to your competitor to poison their organization or to any other place of your choosing . . . as long as it is outside of your organization.
You need to make room for your diamonds to shine.
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