Following are a few “how to” steps from the Responsibility for Choices section of the new workshop I have designed around Leader’s Digest: Timeless Principles for Team and Organization Success. You might want to share and discuss them with your team.
Identify common “victim speak” used within your team. This might include blaming other departments or groups, “we have no time/budget,” “‘they’ won’t let us,” “it’s not our responsibility,” cynical or snide remarks, and the like. Naming this learned helplessness is the first step to reducing it.
Develop a more “leaderful organization” of Navigators by giving people more responsibility, involving them in key decisions that affect them, openly sharing information and the big picture, lots of face-to-face open dialogue, training and support, identifying barriers or frustrations and working together to remove them, and the like.
Challenge, involve, or problem solve with those people who are making negative comments and living in Pity City. Managers who let those comments go (or even worse, join in) allow the naysayers and cynics to set the organization’s emotional tone.
Brainstorm a list of issues or changes you and your team need to make in your organization. Cluster similar ones together until you have no more than seven clusters or groupings. Identify which ones your team directly controls, which clusters it can influence, and which clusters or issues it has no control over. Set action plans to tackle those issues you directly control. Set priorities and action plans for those things you can influence and how you will do that. Agree on how you will all let go of those issues over which you have no control.
Help a team member infected with Victimitis by listening and empathizing. Look for specific things you can analyze, comment on, or reframe their perception. Focus discussions on solutions and the future, not the past. If needed, tell them that complaints without solutions are unproductive and harmful to the team. If they insist on remaining a victim, you might offer to help them find another job.