News coming from Washington these days reflects the discord of\n\npoliticians arguing over issues from judicial nominations to Social\n\nSecurity. Civility and collaboration among political adversaries\n\ngreased the wheels of the American political process for much of the\n\n20th century. No longer! Given the polarity of the American electorate,\n\ncompromise has come to be equated with selling out. Comity between\n\nadversaries has gone by the wayside \n\nBy contrast, business demonstrates in many ways how to prosper through\n\ncompromise. In a free market society, conceiving, developing and\n\ndelivering a product or service is filled with hundreds of compromises\n\nthat balance the needs of the consumer to obtain value with the needs\n\nof the producer to make a profit.\n\n\n\n\n\nCreating UnityCompromise is not a betrayal of values. It is\n\nan agreement over a position where both sides come away with something\n\nto their liking. Not every compromise is a good one. General Motors\u2019\n\ncompromise with its unions over health and pensions in the late 1990s\n\nhas resulted in legacy costs today approaching $2,500 per vehicle,\n\nwhich the company can ill afford to absorb. On the other hand,\n\ncompromise between oil producers and the environmentalists has resulted\n\nin the implementation of drilling methods that are more ecologically\n\ncompatible, in addition to the creation and preservation of natural\n\nhabitats. \n\nCompromise ensures the common interest, and so is a valuable practice\n\nfor managers to learn and implement. Why? Because compromise is a means\n\nby which the talent and skills of a diverse team can be harnessed for\n\nthe completion of a project. Compromise ensures that people participate\n\nand their collaboration overcomes not only inertia but also resistance.\n\nHere are some ways to encourage compromise.\n\nInsist on collaboration. Reflect for a moment on your most positive\n\nteam experience. It may be something that occurred in high school\n\nathletics or you may be experiencing it right now in your workplace. If\n\nyou consider why the team succeeded, it is due not simply to the\n\nindividual proficiencies of teammates, but it was everyone\u2019s ability to\n\nmeld together, not always as friends, but as collaborators who respect\n\none another\u2019s talents and abilities. That\u2019s teamwork. In a larger\n\npicture, it is the collaboration of individuals for the greater good,\n\ne.g., producing intended results in the form of winning games or\n\nwinning in the marketplace. How can managers insist on collaboration?\n\nThe first way is through example. Make it known that you are willing to\n\nshare the hardships, be it longer hours or more difficult assignments.\n\nA second way is through open and honest communications. Set clear\n\nexpectations and be available to listen and learn from others on the\n\nteam.\n\nLeverage dissent. The job of employees is not to agree with\n\nthe boss 100 percent of the time. Employees should feel free to offer\n\nalternate points of view about how the work is done, or about the\n\nintended results. At the same time, the managers have a right to expect\n\nthat the work will be done on time and on budget. Managers may also\n\ninsist on adherence to standards of quality and practice and exact\n\ndiscipline when those metrics are not met. But within that framework\n\nthere is room for dissent. Creative tension over ideas provokes good\n\nthinking and rigorous analysis. The development of marketing campaigns\n\nresembles a laboratory for collaborative thinking. Product offering and\n\nresearch are combined with lots of clever minds to develop strategies\n\nand creative that make the offering desirable, accessible and available\n\nto the consumer, be it a company or an individual. Managers can\n\nencourage dissent through the process of appreciative inquiry \u2013 that\n\nis, the asking of questions designed to elicit different ideas as well\n\nas affirm rights of people who want to ask questions.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSeek comity. One of the reasons people shy away from\n\ncompromise is that they feel it is not worth jeopardizing team harmony.\n\nTrue to a degree, perhaps, but team unity is threatened more seriously\n\nby failure to compromise. When individuals on a team are competing\n\namong themselves to deliver on a project, it is psychologically\n\nwearing. As mentioned above, creative tension can be a positive, but\n\nemotional tension erodes comity and provokes disagreements and disputes\n\nthat are directed at personalities rather than projects. It therefore\n\nfalls to the manager to assuage egos and soothe over hard feelings.\n\nCompromises where parties share in the process as well as share in the\n\nrewards will make the workplace more harmonious. Sometimes\n\ngratification will be deferred. Surrender on one point may not deliver\n\na personal gain, but it will demonstrate that the individual has the\n\nstrength of character to be a good team player. Such recognition may be\n\nthe most valuable outcome of compromise.\n\n\n\n\n\nComprise as a Sign of StrengthAs valued as compromise may be\n\nto organizational health, there are two instances, at least, where\n\ncompromise can be damaging. The first instance is ethics. When you\n\ncompromise over hiring someone with a questionable background, or look\n\nthe other way over a suspect invoice or inflated expense report, you\n\neat away at the integrity of the organization. Just as one bad apple\n\nwill spoil the barrel, one bad actor can damage the reputation of an\n\norganization and do it irreparable harm. A second instance is values,\n\nwhich are defined as the truths and beliefs that bind people to an\n\norganization. When athletes dope themselves to enhance performance,\n\nvalues are thrown by the wayside because dopers violate the spirit of\n\ntheir sport as well as the sanctity of competition. They un level the\n\nplaying field to the detriment of fellow athletes, spectators and\n\nthemselves. Everyone loses.\n\nCompromise is considered an art because it does not result from a\n\nprocess diagram or an employee handbook. Genuine compromise emerges\n\nfrom looking to the hearts and minds of your people to find best\n\npossible solutions. Ideally, compromise creates win win situations, but\n\nnot always. Very often the one who compromises the most is the one who\n\nhas the most to lose. For example, a project manager who is willing\n\nstep back from the team and allow others to add their ideas, as well as\n\ntheir labor, to make the project come along may sacrifice her own pet\n\nideas for the good of the whole. That is compromise of the highest\n\norder. And it is also known by another name \u2013 leadership.