Leaders need to be able to read team members' frustration and lack of progress as more than poor performance. It could be the person needs more support. Use these three ways to resync.
Does this sound familiar? You are working with several people from other groups on a project. A few are diligent and are keeping you in the loop, responding to emails, turning in reports timely. Then there are the outliers, the one or two who have disappeared into an alternate place. Deadlines are missed, reports not done. As a (team)leader this is a high frustration scenario. It is high stress too for the individuals who are not holding up their end.
They know they are remiss. And they are stressed about it. As time passes the hole they are in grows deeper and wider. At some point there is the thought of just giving up. It is too hard to get back on track plus who wants to stand up and take the heat?
That stress adversely affects everything on their plate. We are adversely affected by the stress of the project challenges. When we are under stress, we do not perform at our best. Everything we do suffers. How as a leader can you break through the avoidance, the stress (yours and theirs)? A pointed email is tempting, but not effective if sent.
There are three steps you can take to address the behavior of avoidance and lack of work product.
1.Destress yourself. Let go of your own anger and frustration. Perhaps you do write that scorching email you want to write to get out all the anger, frustration and negative energy. Once written, delete it. Even better, write it out and then tear it into tiny shreds.
2.Tackle the problem you created. Yes, you are part of the problem. How well did you set expectations, ensure the person could do the task, discuss what support they needed? What conversations did you have with their manager to garner support for the project and ensure the project work could be done by that staff member? How do you move forward? Can the tasks be reworked?
3.Have conversations. Plan out a communication and engagement approach to all stakeholders. Listen more than talk. State the problem clearly and invite a solution. During your meeting with the project members, acknowledge their emotions; frustration, embarrassment, and/or abandonment. Take ownership of your role in how things are. Solve together how to get back on track. Find a way for the individual and the project to be successful. Lead the way.
“Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started.” David Allen