Recently I did some 360 interviews for a client named Heather. She was experiencing high turnover in her team and knew she was too harsh and demanding. What I discovered in the interviews is that her team loved her! They consistently said things like, “Oh yeah. When we are at off-sites and Heather is relaxed, she is amazing! So much fun! If she could only be like that more of the time.” Despite being identified as the future of her organization, Heather was so anxious and worried about her goals and performance that she spent most of her time focused on what still had to be done, and what her team wasn’t getting right. She’d lost them.
We focused on letting “Off-site Heather” show up more consistently in her daily work. She shared with her team that she was working on changing her intense behavior. She practiced smiling more and using her sense of humor, saying things like, “Uh oh, here comes the General. Better take a moment and step back.” In those step back moments, she and the team said one or two things that were going well, then moved on to discussing the work at hand.
We also worked on having Heather feel more confident and less defensive. She spent time writing down her wins and learnings. She also spent some time writing down what she feared might go wrong. Just to get it out of her system.
So. Much. Better. Remember, her team wanted her to be fun more of the time, not all of the time. Her efforts meant so much to them. They learned not to take her intense moments personally, and those moments shifted to how much she cared about their collective success. With that, they were much more willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with her.
Being real doesn’t have to be weird or end in a pile of public tears. Being real is different for everyone, but here are a few things to get you started:
- Smile more;
- Share about your tough weekend;
- Apologize! If you overreacted or were unprofessional, say you’re sorry;
- If you need alone time or a break, say so. It tells the team you are real and lets them stop wondering why you look unhappy or dissatisfied;
- Write down the stuff that you are afraid of/worried about, so it stops derailing you.
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