An elephant left to roam free in a workplace can cause a lot of damage to the organization.
Even more importantly, it can cause a lot of problems for the people involved.
When we allow an elephant to linger:
- Distrust increases, and trust decreases.
- Team members grow disengaged and disheartened.
- Creativity and innovation can’t thrive.
- Ongoing stress can harm a person’s mental and physical health.
This list is not comprehensive.
In fact, one of the most simple, direct costs of not freeing an elephant is the loss of time.
Years ago, I worked with a team member, Adriana. She had received feedback from her manager that surprised her. She felt like he was questioning her intelligence.
Adriana needed to have a conversation to clarify and free that elephant. However, it took her a month to take that leap.
During that month, she spent a lot of time thinking about the impending conversation.
In fact, when I asked her later, she figured she’d spent 20 hours thinking about it!
Adriana isn’t an exception.
People spend on average six hours a day dealing with “drama” according to Cy Wakeman. So, if there’s an elephant in your workplace, think about freeing it. Doing so can have an enormous positive impact on productivity, happiness, and wellbeing.
Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.