That One

angryIt's an early Monday morning, all quiet except for you and one or two other early birds. Then, he's there, in your doorway. That one team member. Again. Closing the door. Again. Angry about another team member's slight. Again.

As the supervisor, what is there to do with this kind of direct report, who is always creating interpersonal relationship drama with co-workers, always "playing office politics," yet otherwise so highly skilled on the job that you're loathe to cut him loose. Have you supervised this person--man or woman, young or old?

"Anybody can become angry--that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." ~~Aristotle

Helping team members achieve Aristotle's approach to anger means helping them with the Team Facet of Independence. This flash of brighness in your team comes from the development of healthy boundaries by every team member, including you. Boundaries contain our emotions and thoughts, separate them from others' emotions and thoughts, just as our skin separates us from everything else in the universe. An emotional "skin" helps us respond to others' behavior, rather than react from unhealthy and unhelpful emotions that are too young for an adult workplace.

The 7 Facets of Team Success build boundaries in your team, along with a stronger capacity for trusting the team and its members and other assets. Team 911 workshops and Team FLASH! customized solutions will change the face of your workplace, and remove barriers to productivity.

Meanwhile, what to do with "That One" team member this Monday morning? 

Take a Reality Check:

  1. Condense the basics of the anger-invoking experience into a few statements that the team member agrees describe it. For example, "Judy blew off scheduling the video screening, as you asked her to, and you're angry because she deliberately sabotaged your credibility with the review team."
  2. Compile a fact-based version of the same event:  what, exactly and specifically, happened in the realm of observable, external events. For example, "You dropped by her desk and asked Judy to schedule the video screening for Thursday. Judy didn't schedule the video screening. One of the review team members, rushing past you in the hall last evening, asked you if the production timeline had been delayed because 'weren't we supposed to screen the video this week?'"
  3. Point out that the facts support other interpretations. For example: "Judy misunderstood your instructions and thought you meant next Thursday." or "Judy couldn't schedule the video for Thursday because of conflicts." and "The team member who asked about the timeline was concerned that he had failed to do his tasks on time."
  4. Fact check each version to remove emotional interpretation from the essentials:  Did Judy not schedule for Thursday or did she "blow off" scheduling altogether? How would we know? Did you ask Judy why she didn't schedule for Thursday? What did she say? Where did the idea of deliberate sabotage come from? Did the team member who asked about the production timeline say that you had lost credibility with him? How do you know that? Did any other team members mention the screening or production timeline? Where did the idea of your loss of credibility come from?
  5. Model a new approach to addressing the initial reaction of an emotion-laden story. For example, go with your team member to see Judy and ask her, calmly and without negative judgment, about the scheduling. For example, "Judy, G__ tells me he told you to schedule the video screening for Thursday but it doesn't seem to have been scheduled yet. What can you tell us about that?"

None of us can help it. We all create stories about what is happening to us, pulling evidence from the physical reality around us. Sensory input comes into the brain in wave after wave of signals. Each of us can only select a few of those signals, and can only interpret them based on past experience and internalized beliefs about "how things work in the world." Without the boundary of an emotional skin, all kinds of stories are created out of those few signals. Unfortunately, most of them arise from our early relationships with our families, rather than any real-time events. 

Preserve your peaceful early mornings, with new tools for That One team member. Call for a free Team 911 Lunch and Learn today!

 

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Dr. L. Carol Scott.

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