Tips for Handling the Elephants in Your Project or Business

It sounds simple, but in most cases, the best way to deal with the elephant that may have taken up residence in your business, is to address it directly. The sooner you take control of the elephant by exposing it, dealing with it and freeing it, the less power it has over your project or your organization’s successElephant in room].

Don’t be an ostrich!

It may seem that the easiest route may be to bury your head in the sand, but ignoring the elephant won’t
make it go away. In fact, the longer you let the elephant go, the bigger it grows. Ignoring an issue that everyone knows is there, only multiplies hidden suspicions, rumors, gossips and frustration; and leads to team members becoming increasingly frustrated and unproductive.

Does elephant impact one person or entire group?

There are times when the elephant is (or with) an individual. It may still be impacting the entire organization, but there’s one person who is at the root of the issue. If this is the case, it is usually best to deal with it directly with this person behind closed doors and away from inquisitive ears.

If the issue is more of an organizational elephant, then it’s usually best to address the issue in a group setting.


How do you deal with the elephant in the room?

  1. PREPARE – Think through how the issue may affect your group: professionally and personally, and prepare for that.
  2. TAKE ACTION NOW! – While it’s a good idea to prepare for dealing with the elephant, you must act in a timely fashion.
  3. MEET FACE-TO-FACE – If possible, it’s best to address sensitive issues in person, especially when you’re trying to engage the group in the solution.
  4. NAME THE ELEPHANT – Be specific. Don’t skirt around the issues. When you identify the elephant and give it a name it stops becoming problematic, intimidating & controlling. Once the issue is out in the open and people are able to openly discuss it, it becomes easier to resolve.
  5. USE FACTS TO DISPEL RUMORS – Go into the discussion prepared to provide facts and answer questions. Be as straightforward as possible.
  6. CONSIDER RESOLUTIONS– If possible, get ideas from team members on how to deal with it. Weigh benefits and drawbacks of each resolution.
  7. LAY OUT PATH FORWARD – If possible, get buy-in on next steps.

By talking openly and dealing directly with the elephant in the room, a manager creates a positive precedent for employees to address other potential problems before they become unwanted 12,000-pound disruptive forces on your project and in your business.


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Bridget Waller

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