Elephant in the room: An issue that everyone is aware of, but nobody wants to confront it.
We often find ourselves sharing dining rooms, classrooms and even conference rooms with the proverbial “elephant”, often unsure of how to go about noting the “elephant’s” presence. In the fast paced business world where time is always of the essence, it’s vital that we address the elephant in the room and personally escort him out the door before he runs amuck in our space.
Jeffrey J. Fox addresses this problem midway through his must-read “How to Become a CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization”. In short advice: nip the problem in the butt ASAP, always. “The longer you wait the more you increase the severity of the problem”. Never try to throw a cloak over the elephant, seek out who you feel is best fit to handle the issue and speak out. We can find parallels in the advice offered by the nationwide public awareness terrorism indicators campaign, “If you see something, say something”.
Fox finishes his short chapter likening the crises managers involved in the Watergate scandal to “children trying to save sandcastles from the tide”. He then speaks of the success story of President John F. Kennedy in his handling of the Bay of Pigs ordeal. Kennedy very nobly took full blame- “my fault, we blew it, any questions?”. People who turn a problem into an opportunity to shine like Kennedy allow for a more efficient workplace environment.
This advice is easily transferable into our everyday workplace environment and will help create a better working world. Throughout the business day, we are all faced with certain decisions that lead us to that dreadful fork in the road. Do not be afraid to address certain situations to management. It is always beneficial to seek more experienced advice on how to handle certain issues that can potential negative impacts on the task at hand. Sometimes items so small can potentially have huge impacts, in which I can speak from personal experience.
Recently, I was looking through the meeting schedule for the day and noticed there was no conference room booked for one of the client meetings (which included senior executives). At that point in time, I had two decisions. Wait for the person who booked the meeting to notice the issue and maybe fix it themselves or immediately escalate the problem to the appropriate person. With my decision to immediately escalate the issue, the problem was quickly eliminated. Not only did it save our team embarrassment from being unorganized, it also provided me with the opportunity. This situation allowed me to be a better team member and further develop my relationship with my colleague I helped out. Sometimes it’s the small things that go overlooked that have huge repercussions. There is no problem too small for anyone and take every opportunity to support the team and help out the people around you.