Embracing Paradoxes: Navigating Contradictions in the Workplace

Embracing Paradoxes: Navigating Contradictions in the Workplace

Paradoxes are disapproval or problems that ignore common sense and business judgment. They can be devastating, difficult to understand, and apparently impossible to tackle. These pressures show up in all aspects of organizational life. Paradoxes are two opposite ideas or mindsets that co-exist in the business environment. This article explores how leaders can deal with paradoxes in the workplace effectively in order to learn, grow, and gain from them.

The Concept of Paradoxes in the Workplace

Dealing with paradoxes in the workplace involves outlook and behavioral flexibility, moving from a discussion to customer complaints to administrative mistakes and shifting mechanisms accordingly. People who are perfect at this are flexible in situations and with others. They can advance and let others advance too. The ability to think and act in seemingly opposite ways at the same time or when moving from one task to another enhances. They are adjustable and meet the needs of the moment. This requires having some adjustment in approach, tone and style, and then matching those to the demands of the situation.

We think of organizations as a way to organize work and to do things together, which is true enough. But at the same time, every organization is a bundle of inconsistencies and conflicts. An organization should be able to fascinate and retain members, or it will come to an end. At the same time, it must confine people’s behavior, or it won’t be able to achieve its goals. The paradox in the workplace denotes opposing yet interrelated elements that alone seem logical but senseless and irrational when appearing simultaneously. Thus, leaders must deal with tensions simultaneously to achieve long-term effectiveness. As such, dealing with paradox seeks insights into how organizations can support opposing demands, and examine similar results.

What is the Paradox of Business?

In business, you will notice some certain repeated trends; while pursuing more business you sometimes wander from your core business, and find yourself doing some other business that is not your primary business so long as they bring in some cash. You tend to ignore some key elements that can help your business on the long run. Even though you are aware that they are important, but just because they aren’t urgent you keep postponing them till it becomes too late.

While being occupied with the day-to-day operations of your business, you realize you’re no longer paying enough attention to pursuing your vision. You suddenly forget about the change you originally set out to create in the industry. You forget about the very idea that inspired you’re going into business. One gets caught in doing business as usual and forgets about product innovation. While satisfying existing customers, you fail to pursue new ones. While pursuing new ones, you fail to satisfy existing ones. Time and again, you find your business failing in one or more important aspects. These are referred to dealing with paradox in business.

Why should you deal with Paradoxes in the workplace?

The world of business consists many conflicting roles, expectations and functions. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that business is a complex thing consisting of several aspects that are contradictory in nature. At one end is the pressure to do whatever you can to keep the business running, and at the other end is the desire to build your business into something great. Here lies the paradox of business. The bottom-line when it comes to building a business is to focus on the future and the long term. This is how great companies build themselves, they don’t only focus on being relevant today, they create the future. They dream dreams, nurture ideas, create environments where creativity thrives, they form strategic alliances with others and they constantly seek out great talents to hire. They actively allocate their time into activities that helps them to continually remain relevant today, tomorrow and always.

The key to dealing with paradox of business is to create a healthy balance between doing business and building business. Make sure all that you are doing in your business is aligned with and contributes to your corporate purpose. In other words, don’t just do business, do what helps your business to go and grow in the right direction. And discard all other things that you do that doesn’t align with your corporate purpose.

Paradoxes in the Workplace in Management

Paradoxes are two ideas or mindsets that are completely opposite, yet co-exist in the business environment. If you want to succeed at managing a team today, you have to know the art of dealing with paradox. Mentioned below are some paradoxes in management today –

  • Individuals and Teams – Individuals give their best when they work in teams and teams succeed when each individual participates.
  • Success and Failure – For people to succeed, they must first fail.
  • Work and Rest – To give their best, people need to rest and learn to be inactive in the middle of a task, and at the same time very active in calmness.
  • Hard and Soft Skills – Both hard skills such as logical intelligence and soft skills such as emotional intelligence are important.
  • Efficient and Effective - The customer feels satisfied when the organization is efficient and effective when it puts the customer first.
  • Control and Freedom – People need control and they seek freedom which comes along with control.

How to Deal with Paradox?

Managing opposites and dealing with paradox turns management from a science into an art. It requires a different mindset from the management attitudes of old and with it a completely new set of skills. As old as the principles are, for many it is a new way of managing. Paradoxes, also described as polarities and first time dilemmas that can be overwhelming, difficult to understand, and seemingly impossible to address. These tensions show up in all facets of organizational life, including leadership, teamwork, structure and within ourselves. Research and training can help individuals understand how dealing with paradox impacts a leader’s effectiveness. Organizations and individuals that are able to deal with paradox are better performers than others. Common business tools are not very useful in managing paradoxes.

  • Polarity Mapping – Polarity Mapping is a concept for managers and organizations to think about the larger value, or purpose, of balancing two polarities, as well as to determine specific action steps. This concept is useful for comprehending two poles that are competing or are at odds. Explore the drawbacks or fears related to indicate one or the other.
  • Duality Mapping – Duality mapping is based on the concept that everything in the world consists of two opposite elements that are partially conflicting and partially complementary. Paradoxes are interrelated and interdependent. They are not only opposite but also cooperate with each other.

Polarity Mapping and Duality Mapping are both practical and thought-provoking approaches to dealing with paradoxes in the workplace. By blending Eastern and Western philosophies, organizations may find the most effective, transformative solution to handling complex, paradoxical demands.

A Paradox is Balanced

Paradoxes in the workplace is an actual event that has at least two clashing sides and may appear as a conflict. It has two oppositions that can be both right and wrong at the same time. To tackle it, we must change our mindset and wholeheartedly embrace and understand both positions and believe that both polarities are valid.

Contact us if you are interested in a workplace related training program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.