30/07/2009 - 00:00

Crystal power

30/07/2009 - 00:00


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Crystal power

MODERN medicine undoubtedly has many benefits and has saved many lives, but despite what some medical practitioners might tell you there are many ailments and diseases that they do not know the cause of or the cure for.

And despite what many of the chattering classes might like to believe, doctors are not infallible.

On the other hand, so-called alternative medicine models, such as naturopathy, have many followers who sing their praises. On the downside, alternative medicine has attracted a plethora of today's equivalent of the good old snake oil salesmen (or women, in fact, more women then men).

There are a number of alternative 'fixer-uppers' that use the power of crystals as a healing technique. The power of crystals in this context I can't comment on, so I won't. But this preamble is to lead into a derivative of the word crystal - crystallisation or in the past tense, crystallised. They are nice words when you get to know them and embrace them. And to their power I can testify.

Once again I hear you grinding your teeth in anguish as you question what the hell this has to do with management. And quite rightly, the questioning that is, not the grinding, that just wears your teeth down.

From the Collins English Dictionary, to 'crystallise' is to give a definite form or expression to (an idea, an argument, etc) or (of an idea, argument, etc) to assume a recognisable or definite form.

Now can you see where I'm heading with this?

On your position description for your role as a manager, one of your key results areas should be crystallisation. A manager is a key agent for the process of crystallisation in the minds of his or her workgroup. Your role is to help shape the mindsets of your people. Not to brainwash your people, but to help inform their thinking.

One mistake many of us still make is to think that other people think about things the same way we do. They don't. Their mindsets are shaped by their experiences, their awareness, their learnings, their context, their motives, their information, their beliefs, their perspectives, their interpretations, their fears, etc - not yours.

No wonder things often come unstuck when there is an assumption that because we all work for the same organisation or work in the same workgroup, we all have the same view of the causes of problems, the best ways to resolve them. We don't.

Your mindsets and the mindsets of your people will be similar on some things and different on others. Yeah, well you know all of that, right? But I'll bet you London to a brick that you actually carry on as if you didn't.

Well ... not you personally, but others you know, right?

The process of crystallisation takes additional time and effort. It is quite hard to actually make the time and effort because it goes against the grain of what we want to do. None of us has any spare time - we're too busy. And there's the rub, the catch 22, we have no time to stop wasting time. We don't make the time to address the things that cause us to waste time.

Staff can become frustrated, confused and inefficient when they are attempting to make sense of things where they don't have all the information, when some pieces of the jigsaw are missing, where they haven't considered the various perspectives applying to a situation or where their interpretation of information or events is lacking.

When the manager takes time out to provide that information or to explain other perspectives or to broaden their interpretations, that's when the magic of crystallisation occurs.

I have seen this time and time again through exploring the perceptions and rationale for those perceptions of a workgroup. What once were problems and causes of conflict and waste of time and effort disappear nearly every time that crystallisation takes place. When this happens, new mindsets replace the previously held mindsets and individual motivation and efficiency are enhanced.

A first step as a manager is to convince yourself of the benefits for you and your staff of using the power of crystallisation and removing the catch 22.


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