Famous example: When Stonewall Jackson had to retreat, he said: “We’re not retreating; we’re advancing in a different direction.” No lie. Jackson kept his troops together, stringing out his attackers as they pursued him, then turned around and assaulted the thin enemy line.
Less famous example: At a car parts manufacturer, a small group of workers griped that one new employee took too much sick leave. The worker kept receiving salary and benefits while the rest of them had to work extra hard to make quotas.
After letting the workers vent, their supervisor pointed out that the company offered them a generous health care policy, so that if any of them became ill, everybody—the company and their co-workers—would pitch in until they returned to health. She also pointed out that most companies don’t commit to taking care of their employees, especially new ones. Heads nodded and a veteran worker acknowledged that she was right.
See if you can figure out how to reframe these setback situations:
1. You have to lay off 20 percent of your team. Possible reframes: Those who remain will benefit from cross-training and expanded skills. They will carry more responsibility and become more visible to the top brass.
2. Your boss tells you to stop work on a project your people like. Possible reframes: You can look for even better projects. By giving up this project without a fuss, you gain a negotiation advantage over your boss on other matters.
3. The hierarchy has flattened, doubling the number of people reporting to you. Possible reframes: You will have far more influence in the organization. Fewer layers of will lead to better communication.You can streamline those cumbersome annual job evaluations.