Healthy: Limit Unnecessary Upset in your Team

Healthy: Limit Unnecessary Upset in your Team

Sid Smith

People: Limiting Upsets

Some entrepreneurial leadership teams seem to be well-oiled machines at creating chronic upset with their people. This by definition is not healthy and stalls productivity.

Most leaders that cause consistent upset in others frequently have no idea what it is they do in their interactions and communications that cause this upset. They struggle mightily to mitigate the upset they are causing and often give up trying due to a lack of success. Some improve but never achieve consistency.

The source of upset in human beings is simple but not easy. In my experience, upset is caused by just three things:

  • Unmet expectations
  • Thwarted intent
  • Undelivered communications that lead to one of the first two

Unmet Expectations

Expectations come from two major sources: expectations that you set knowingly or unknowingly and assumed expectations people generate on their own from their life's perspective, values and the role they have in the company. And yes, all too often people do expect you to read their mind.

Your fix is to control what you can control and learn to predict to the best of your ability the other expectations that are likely given the individual and the context.

An example would be when the company's profits soar quarter after quarter, year in and year out but wages remain flat. You may have been clear about your pay plan and your policy on raises and still get upset people that feel they are not sufficiently participating in the profits that they help generate.

There can be many fixes for a circumstance like this. One possibility is that the team may not understand that heavy growth requires that most and maybe all of the profits are plowed by into the business to fuel the growth. The average employee doesn't understand how this works and will leap to conclusions if you don't communicate with them. This falls into the category of "undelivered communications" as the source of the upset.

Thwarted intent

An employee has three Rocks that they intend to accomplish by the end of the quarter. They have improved their efficiency on all of their baseline job description tasks and develop a reputation for getting things done fast and ahead of schedule. Due to this reputation leadership keeps piling on the extra work… work not getting finished by lower performing team members. The upset comes in that the person feels their ability to get their Rocks to 100% completion is threatened.

The fix here is again just communication. Simply ask if they would be willing to take on the extra work and if doing so will compromise their ability to meet their overall objectives.

Here it is imperative that the person feel safe and fully respected if they say no because it will likely prevent them from achieving their Rock. If they don't feel safe then they may take it on and get upset when they miss their Rock.

Undelivered communication

This is the granddaddy of all upset. It is hard to remember to do in all cases - you will never get it right all the time. The key is to progressively get better. Putting things in writing is essential. People just don't hear, process or even listen well enough for one verbal exchange alone to get the job done. This is especially true when the issue at hand is a no-recovery item. Low burden of recovery items can be missed when the burden to write is just impractical but should not be relied upon for the big issues.

Avoiding upset is a skill that develops over time. Being consciously aware of the fundamentals of what causes upset is the first step in a long journey. In time your prediction skills will sharpen and your organization will get progressively healthier in direct proportion to your ability to limit the amount of unnecessary upset in your organization.

The good news is gaining mastery with the 6 Key Components™ of EOS and the Leadership Abilities will go a long way towards limiting upset with employees, other leaders and customers. It is also one of the key ways to get more of what you want from your business.

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