Dealing with “Friendly Fire” in the Workplace

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

For corporate employees with an entrepreneurial mindset, frustration often comes from dealing with internal obstacles. External business challenges are a battle to be fought and won, and it’s easy to get everyone onboard. But large, successful corporations got that way by mastering the day-to-day and quarter-to-quarter tasks efficiently and without error. That can become a problem when you need to grow, innovate, and change the business.

A recent Harvard Business Review article tackled the topic of “friendly fire” in the workplace. Investors demand predictable and profitable results from businesses. So, when introducing new concepts, your peers can be your biggest critics. You’re all working towards the same goal–increasing the value of your company–but bringing an element of uncertainty into the mix can put you in the middle of a pitched battle between change and stability.

The article recommends a couple of courses of action for internal entrepreneurs (intrapreneurs) to keep their passion when presented with challenges:

Persist: Like external entrepreneurs can’t simply blame the market for being unreasonable when their ideas don’t take off, intrapreneurs must take all the internal feedback, incorporate it into their plans, and re-present their concepts. They refer to the feedback as “friendly fire” because you should keep in mind that the opposition is coming from a common business goal, not an adversarial relationship.

Diagnose: Understand where your opposition is coming from and why. There are several stakeholders in any decision-making process: you, your manager, the corporate executive team, and your organization. Think about each stakeholder’s opinion and viewpoint, and cater your message and expectations to the different perspectives and experiences that each stakeholder has.

For internal entrepreneurs, fighting friendly fire can be frustrating. In an article about Intrapreneurship, Susan Foley interviewed an employee who said she “felt like she was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers.” Those sorts of misalignments will happen when presenting ideas in the workplace, but taking feedback, adapting it, and catering your message through the lens of an intrapreneur can help you avoid frustration and get ideas off the ground.

Everyone in your company should be working towards the same goals. You just all have different ideas on how to get there.


photo credit: Simon & His Camera via photopin cc

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