A Demotivating Remark To Avoid

“We’re not curing cancer.”

It’s something I heard a lot working in the beauty business.  

“First world problems!” is another one you hear.

Makes sense. Managers want to relativize situations that feel stressful or overwhelming.

The trouble is that it also says, “Your problems aren’t important,” or “The work you do has no meaning,” and that has a super demotivating effect.

Shawn Achor talks about the dynamic in “The Happiness Advantage.”  A manager said, “We aren’t saving dolphins, guys” to a room full of salespeople, basically telling them that their jobs had no meaning other than to earn them money.

You want your team to care. And your team wants to have a sense of meaning from their work. That’s what makes work motivating.

This also means that if you want your team to care, then your team’s problems are real!

So how do you respond when you are just as overwhelmed as your team? Instead of a knee-jerk platitude, try this:
  • Meet them where they are. Listen and affirm what they are telling you. Respond to, “All this work we did is going to amount to nothing!” with, “Yeah, it feels like a lot of work for nothing.” Avoid, “I get it,” or “I hear you.”Instead, use the same language they used. Much more powerful.
  • Connect with their strengths and values. “What I know about you is that you always give it your all,” or “Supporting the client is so important to you.” Reconnecting with their inner wisdom is a great way to support them.
  • Manage your own anxieties. Being the boss doesn’t mean you have all the answers and doesn’t mean you aren’t a little scared too.  Think about your own triggers and what helps you manage them.
  • Open up the possibilities. When we are anxious, we often edit too soon in the process. Try being open to things you hadn’t considered.  You can always make choices that make sense for you later.
Remember, the answers don’t come from diminishing problems and peoples’ emotions. Answers come from experience and wisdom, and your team has much better access to those when they feel heard and supported.

My best,

Tifin Dillon - Use Astrology for Your Leadership Style

Isabelle Steichen - Millennial Free Agent

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