nontroversy in the workplace

Want more engagement and less knee-jerk decisions? Eliminate nontroversies.

A nontorversy is a controversy that isn’t. It’s artificial, manufactured, or falsely amplified. It’s a non-issue that is given more time and energy than is due. It’s making mountains out of molehills.

Nontorversies are easily seen in the political arena and talk radio. They are used as daily distraction and attempt to discredit opponents over non-issues.

Nontroversies are created in the workplace by the rumor mills, passive-aggressive people, complainers, people who create unnecessary drama as a hobby, or those who play cutthroat corporate politics. Some common examples:

Continual complaining about issues they don’t really care about.

Inflating the severity of other people’s mistakes so it goes several levels up the chain of command before everyone discovers it was very minor.

Creating new rules and policies before investigating how prevalent and persistent an issue is.

Over-reaction to pending legislation. Panicking before even knowing what it’s going to look like in real life.

Focusing on the fad and buzzword of the day.

Continually positioning oneself (or department) as the hero whenever anything goes wrong, no matter how minor.

Two faced complaining and finger pointing.

Finding flaws in other’s work to make oneself look better.

Over-labeling events. Forever referring to that time five people got laid off as “Black Tuesday.”

Harboring anger and resentment for issues that happened years ago and have long since been resolved.

Trauma and drama sell. People seem to love to gripe and find flaws and complain about any change. Nontroversies thrive wherever there is a lack of transparent, authentic, honest communication but they can pop up anywhere. That is their nature. Yesterday’s nontroversy is today’s old (yawn) news. Today’s nontraversy will be replaced with another tomorrow. Nontraversies don’t need substance. They don’t need logic. They don’t have to have a long shelf-life. They just need to give us something to overact to today.

High performing teams and companies can’t (and don’t) waste time and energy on non-issues. What are you doing to eliminate drama ? How do you keep the nontroversies at bay?

what the workplace needs now

Some days I’d love to just tweak the workplace a bit. Do less of some things and more of others. Little stuff to improve things. Below is a wish list of what the workplace really needs right now. Wouldn’t it be great if we could each do our part and contribute to creating a workplace where there’s:

Less doing, more talking.

Fewer problem solvers, more problem spotters.

Less direct feedback, more gossip.

Less honesty, more passive-aggressiveness.

More “I tried” and less “I did”.

Less personal responsibility, more entitlement.

Less guidance, more rigid rules.

Fewer innovators, more bureaucrats.

More doom, gloom, and threats and less optimism and celebration.

More blame, less accountability.

More talk about generational differences, less consideration for individual differences.

Less reward for merit, more reward for gut-it-out longevity.

Less team, more hierarchy.

More time spent figuring out what we can sell to customers, less time spent figuring out what our customers want and value.

More subjectivity, less objectivity.

Fewer facts, more rumors.

Less communication, more silos.

More personal fiefdoms, less big picture integration.

Less time spent studying how the world and consumers are changing, more time spent copying the competition.

Less concern about authenticity, more focus on branding.

More using social media for one-way information dumps, less two-way conversations.

Less asking customers, employees, etc. what they want, more guessing.

More jargon and buzzwords, less communication.

Less unity, more schisms.

Less focus on long-term issues, more focus on management fads.

Far less emphasis on helping people be their authentic best and far more emphasis on helping people create a plastic façade.

More yelling, less development.

More micromanaging (please!) and less leading.

More tantrums, fewer attempts to work out issues.

More learned helplessness, less empowerment.

Less training, more sink or swim learning.

Less planning, more last minute emergencies.

More talking at each other, less talking to each other.

More surprises, less strategy.

Less focus on getting things done, more focus on why we can’t.

More emphasis on personal glory, less concern for the team’s success.

Oh sure, we could do it the other way and reverse all of these, but it’s much easier to continue down the current paths. Reversing things would take vision, persistence, and continuous effort.

And that’s what the workplace really needs now.