Coping with paradox in the workplace

Paradoxes are disapproval or issues that bypass common sense and business judgement. It can be devastating, challenging, and impossible to tackle. These pressures crop up in all facets of organisational life. At the same time, paradoxes are two contrasting ideas or mindsets that survive in the business world. 

This blog examines how leaders can effectively deal with paradoxes in the workplace to learn, grow, and gain from them. Before getting into details, let’s understand the concept of paradox. 

Notion of Paradox

Dealing with paradoxes in the workplace incorporates outlook and behavioural flexibility, moving from a discussion to customer complaints to administrative blunders and shifting mechanisms accordingly. People in the above category are perfect at this and are flexible in situations and with others. Moreover, they can advance and let others succeed too. 

The capacity to think and act in seemingly opposite ways simultaneously or when moving from one task to another improves. In simple terms, they are adjustable and meet the moment’s needs. Therefore, according to the circumstances, it requires a few adjustments in approach, tone, and style.

We think of organisations as organising work and doing things together. But at the same time, every organization possesses a pile of inconsistencies and conflicts. An organization should be able to charm and retain employees, or it will end. Moreover, it must determine employees’ behaviour, or it won’t be able to achieve its common goals. 

While the paradox in the workplace represents opposing yet complementary elements that alone seem logical but irrational when occurring together. Thus, leaders must deal with tensions simultaneously to gain long-term effectiveness. As such, coping with paradox strives for insights into how organizations can keep opposing demands and study similar results.


The paradox of business: What is that?

In business, you will witness specific repeated trends. For instance, while seeking more business, you sometimes stroll from your core business and find yourself doing some other business that is not included in your KRA but helps bring in some cash. Sometimes, you overlook a few vital elements that can help your business in the long run. Even though you know they are essential, you keep postponing them because they aren’t urgent until it becomes too late.

While populated with your business’s daily operations, you realize you no longer focus on pursuing your vision. Then, suddenly forget about the change you initially set out to build in the industry and the idea that inspired you to go into business. 

Therefore, one gets caught up in doing business as usual and fails at product innovation. While satisfying existing customers, you need to pursue new ones and vice versa. Later, you discover your business falling into one or more critical aspects. These are directed at dealing with paradoxes in business. 

Few mantras to deal with paradox in the workplace

The world of business involves multiple conflicting roles, expectations, and functions. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that business is a complicated thing consisting of several contradictory aspects. At one end is the pressure to do whatever you can to keep the business running, and at the other is the urge to take your business to the next level. 

Here lies the paradox of business. The bottom line when building a business is to concentrate on the future and the long term. This is how great companies stand in the market by focusing on being relevant today, they build the future. Moreover, they encourage ideas, create environments where creativity blossoms, form strategic alliances with others, and constantly seek out excellent talents to hire. They actively assign their time to activities that enable them to remain relevant today, tomorrow, and always.

The key to dealing with the business paradox is establishing a healthy balance between doing and building business. Ensure all you do in your business is aligned with and contributes to your corporate goal. In simple words, don’t just do business, do what helps your business grow in the right direction. In addition, discard all other unimportant things which do not add value to your purpose.

Paradox in management

As discussed earlier, paradoxes are two opposite ideas or mindsets co-existing in the business environment. If you want to thrive at managing a team today, you have to get well-versed in the art of dealing with paradoxes. Look at the mentioned 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 taste failure.
  • Efficient and Effective – The customer feels satisfied when the organization is efficient and effective when it puts the customer first.
  • Work and Rest – To deliver their best, people need to rest and take a break from the task while simultaneously being very calm.
  • Control and Freedom – People need power and strive for freedom, which comes along with power.
  • Hard and Soft Skills – Hard and soft skills like logical and emotional intelligence are essential.


How to deal with paradoxes?

Managing contraries and working on paradoxes turns management from a science into an art. It needs a distinct mindset from the management attitudes of old and an entirely new set of skills. As old as the principles are, it is a new way of managing for many. 

Paradoxes are polarities and first-time dilemmas that can be overwhelming, challenging to understand, and impossible to address. These tensions appear in all aspects of organizational life, such as leadership, teamwork, structure, and within ourselves. Research and training can assist individuals in understanding how dealing with paradox results in a leader’s effectiveness. According to experts, people are better performers than others when dealing with organizations and individuals. 

  • Polarity Mapping – The concept of Polarity Mapping is for managers and organizations to think about the big value, or purpose, of balancing two polarities and define specific needed steps. This concept helps comprehend two poles that are competing or are at odds. Therefore, explore the drawbacks or fears related to indicating one or the other.
  • Duality Mapping – On the other hand, Duality mapping defines everything in the world as consisting of two opposite elements: partially conflicting and partially complementary. Paradoxes are complementary and interdependent. They are not only opposing but also cooperating with each other.

Polarity Mapping and Duality Mapping are both practical and thought-provoking approaches to dealing with paradoxes in the workplace. Therefore, by merging Eastern and Western philosophies, organizations may discover the most effective, transformative solution to handling complex, paradoxical needs.

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The paradox can be balanced

Paradoxes in the workplace are an event with at least two clashing sides and may appear as a conflict. It has two oppositions that can be both right and wrong simultaneously. Treating paradoxes in the workplace as a problem to be solved and selecting any side of the paradox will create difficulties, frustration, and other harmful results. Rather, a paradox must be balanced. So, tackle it, and we must change our mindset, embrace and understand both positions, and believe that both polarities are accurate.

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