When driving a motorcycle, you must focus on the road ahead. Looking to either side will cause you to steer toward what you’re looking at.
If you look back, you’ll soon be going that way.
Team members joking about problems is a common trend across low-performing teams and organizations. Have you ever been on a team where bad behaviour gets glazed over, and problems become jokes?
“Uh oh, looks like Gaby is half an hour late to another meeting!”
“Jim forgot to record a client’s details again, classic!”
“Ha, why is Lana even a manager if no one ever listens to her?”
Does this sound familiar? Are you guilty of this?
Maybe it seems like it’s all in good fun because everyone in the organization is friends. Or maybe this office “comedian” thinks they’re influencing a shift in behaviour.
Unfortunately, neither is true.
When someone exhibits bad behaviour, they are at fault. When others don’t help them correct it, everyone is at fault. It might seem like a message is getting through when you jokingly prod into an issue, but it isn’t.
Think about it – if a bad behaviour is frequent enough that people joke about it to the person’s face, it’s a behaviour that people want changed but aren’t confronting. Does the person in question even know that the team wants them to change their behaviour if everyone is joking and laughing?
Jokes about things that people know are real problems will always have an underlying tension. Real feedback needs to be given, and change isn’t being made.
In general, feedback delivered in a constructive way will be appreciated. If you had something stuck in your teeth at a lunch, wouldn’t you rather someone point it out?
When behaviour needs to be changed, it’s time to evaluate if the person actually knows that their behaviour is a problem. Have they been told? Could you help solve the underlying issues?
One final note – is the behaviour one that can’t be changed? Perhaps a medical condition prevents performance from being exactly as you expect. If something can’t be helped, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t make jokes about it! The person probably knows that they have this problem, and highlighting it is nothing more than bullying by means of public shaming.
Remember – leaders raise the people around them, not just themselves. And you have the power to go forth and lead 🙂
Thanks for reading this post, feel free to share your thoughts about it with me on twitter!
It’s tough to be mindful of the feedback we give and receive. We’re humans, and humans are fallible – even mild feedback can seem harsh if it’s perceived to come from a place of hostility, or if we feel like we’re somehow threatened by the person giving it. However, feedback is inevitable, so it’s our duty as compassionate human beings to make sure that it’s taken and received as best as possible.
Imagine you’re standing at the top of a snowy hill holding a snowball, looking down at a person who you’ll inevitably hit with it. You have two options: either throw the snowball right away, or let it roll down the hill and take time to reach its target. You don’t want to throw the snowball right away – you’re going to hurt the other person! It’s so much easier to let it slowly roll down to its target. But – that’s actually going to hurt even more when it hits! As the snowball rolls and more time passes, it’s going to grow until it’s overwhelming… and then, wham!
That’s just like feedback we hold on to for longer than necessary. The small criticisms we’re afraid to say grow when an issue is repeated and compounded. So – just throw the damn snowball! It’ll hurt much less and be more manageable.
It can be scary to give small criticisms if you’re worried about keeping a relationship healthy. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. Positivity psychologist Daniel Goleman describes the ideal ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback as 3:1 in a business setting. What that means is that relationships will continue to be positive if you give 3 pieces of positive feedback per each criticism.
Leading meetings can be tough if you have a group of analytical minds around the table. People who like to process what they hear thoroughly can sometimes refrain from speaking until they’re totally ready. This can lead to a meeting dominated by a few vocal team members, which can dissuade others from adding their valuable input. This can be a problem when you need your whole team creatively thinking around solutions.
Approaching every part of a meeting analytically and with purpose is the way to set everyone’s mindset in the right place. Here are 3 quick principles for getting everyone constructively involved:
These 3 simple tips will ensure that everyone gets a chance to understand and participate. Providing a ‘why’ ensures that everyone is cognizant of the task at hand and is willing to participate. Frequently asking what the group thinks keeps everyone on track. Finally, asking specific people to answer questions keeps the group on their toes. One trick that’s worked for me is providing around 30 seconds of thinking time before an answer to a tough question!
These tips were my first steps to running happier, better meetings, and I hope they work for you as well.