Coworkers won’t communicate? Break out the Tip Cards

February 20, 2015

Evie Racette is a straight shooter.

Bred in the Midwest, she was raised to speak her mind. But these days, as the new town manager of Pinetop Lakeside, a resort town in Arizona’s White Mountains, she finds herself in a communication conundrum. How can she introduce necessary change if she can’t talk freely with her coworkers?

“I just took the position in October, and I’ve felt resistance,” she explains. “In the southwest you couch everything you say, and that’s been hard for me.”

Then she came across Unstuck’s new Tip Cards, and it dawned on her that the cards might tackle the elephants in the office using a process that suited the culture.

“I thought it would be a great resource for the staff. I saw it as problem solving in a removed way.” Evie says. “We all have interpersonal issues, and sometimes that’s not easy to share with your manager. The cards are a non-confrontational way to work on your own issues.”

The secretary at the town office is now charged with keeping the four different decks at her desk so employees can sign them out. Evie also gave an extra set to the local library.

After six weeks in circulation, the cards are making an impact. “People think they’re fun,” she reports. “The cards get used a lot.” Even by Pinetop Lakeside’s municipal judge. When one of his staff had a blow-up with a coworker (it wasn’t the first time), the judge mandated that the employee use the Stop Your Negative Thinking deck regularly to adjust his thoughts and actions.

In addition to solo problem solving, town workers use the tip cards for shared obstacles. For instance, Evie and a colleague recently pulled out the cards to find a way to break through the different perspectives held by elected officials and town employees.

“What I love about the cards,” she says, “is they have specific tasks that you can take to get unstuck and get out of that habit. They explain what to do and why to do it. It’s nice to have a good why. Otherwise, people think it’s fluffy.”

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