Staffing issues such as excessive absenteeism, moodiness, tardiness, inability to complete jobs in a timely manner, and under performing are some of the things you can expect when managing a team. These issues can also result in a more silent and dangerous problem in the rest of the team, which is resentment from the rest of the performing team members. The resentment can turn to anger, frustration, despair, feeling undervalued, discontent, cause the performing member to leave as they are now fed up with picking up the slack of non-performing team members.Staffing issues such as excessive absenteeism, moodiness, tardiness, inability to complete jobs in a timely manner, and under performing are some of the things you can expect when managing a team. These issues can also result in a more silent and dangerous problem in the rest of the team, which is resentment from the rest of the performing team members. The resentment can turn to anger, frustration, despair, feeling undervalued, discontent, cause the performing member to leave as they are now fed up with picking up the slack of non-performing team members.
Even worse, they could make a blanket statement that the working environment is toxic and that problems are allowed to fester, and that problem employees can waltz in and out of the office with no consequences for their actions.
Managing the non-performers, although time-consuming, can be done in a straightforward manner. Managing the resentment of performing members towards the non-performing person and/or the leadership team, however, is not so simple. You want to be careful not to make them think they are being punished for their feelings. It requires you as the leader to be able to ask the right questions about how they feel and get them to elaborate on why they are feeling it, empathize and understand where they are coming from, and make them understand that you see the problem and you are doing something about the problem, and finally getting their mindset out of that resentful feeling.
It also has to be said that not all performing team members will feel the same way. And not all of those who feel resentful will come to you and express their discontent. As the leader, you need to get your Spidey senses up and scan the workplace for unspoken feelings. You will notice people grouping in the corner, hush-hush tones, sombre faces. A simple feedback method of SBI (Situation, Behaviour, Impact) is not enough in these situations, so try this:
A: Asking the question—how they feel and why they feel that way
Taking them to one side and ask how they are. Tell them you notice a change in their demeanor, see if they are alright. Ask, “Tell me a bit more about what you feel and let’s find out why,” This raises awareness in them. What is that hot button and why is it a hot button issue? What values button do they hold that the other person has pressed (values such as hard work in one person can mean a personal assault to him/her if the other party is not working hard enough)? Any time their personal values are being disregarded, they can feel that they are being personally attacked. They have to understand that the other person is not personally attacking them, their values are just different.
E: Empathize and understand where they are coming from
This requires you to really listen and withhold judgment towards their actions and feelings. Get them to talk. Really talk. Ask them to pour it all out. This can feel overwhelming to you at first and your first thought could probably be, “Oh grow up!” Stop. Stop all self-talk. Stop all thoughts racing through your head. This will allow you to catch the things they are not saying.
C: Communicate that you are doing something about the problem without getting into too much detail
Raising their awareness that something is being done about the situation is like throwing cold water on the issue. Sizzling hot feelings will start to rest. But you have to be genuine in your response and not just say it to appease the situation. There must be a real action towards the offending attitude. Otherwise, your integrity will be at stake and you will lose their trust.
S: Shift the mindset
Shifting people’s mindsets would require you to interrupt that person's habits of thought, belief or action. It means people would be aware of their resentment triggers, thus reducing the chances of them being caught off guard, and the frequency of its eruption. This requires you to make them aware of a few things: CEARS
1. Circle of control: Emotional reaction to the situation vs the problem or issue.
There are a few things in life you have control over. And other people’s actions or words are NOT some of them. One thing you have control over is how you respond or react to a situation. If a person is being a total ass towards you, you have no control over that. But you have control over your fist that landed on his face. You have no control over the person who is disruptive in your meeting, but you have control of whether or not you will throw a fit and storm out of the room because that person was being disrespectful. Some reactions can put you in an unflattering light.
Remind your employees of the fact that they should not depend on the actions of others to make them feel good. Feeling good must be an internal thing as this makes them in control of their emotions. Being in control of what they allow in their mental sphere is a much better way to operate in life, as they are not at the mercy of other people’s whims.
2. Emotion Equals Thoughts Plus Action. There are positive and negative emotions that can either lift your spirits up or drag you down. If you want your emotions to change, change a part of the E=T+A equation. If they are feeling anger, try and examine what the thought process is behind the anger and the fact they keep talking about it perpetuates the emotion.
3. Action can also mean talking about the issue again and again and again which means getting wound up in a bunch. It can also mean using negatively charged words such as infuriating, disgusting, frustrating, hate, etc.
4. Respond. Being NOT emotional towards a situation does not mean non-concern or indifference to the issue, it just means you are responding to the situation rather than reacting to it. Response can mean, knowing when to attack the problem head-on and sometimes putting the issue to one side and coming back to it at an appropriate time. It can also mean using non-negatively charged words such as irritating, baffled, I don't like, etc. It does not mean sweeping the issue under the rug. Responding to situations instead of reacting to them makes for a more composed, matured and valued member of the team, who is in control of their own emotions. It is ok to feel an emotion, as long as it does not control them.
5. Stress. Negative emotions such as anger, frustration, etc., can cause the body to react in a fight mode which can raise fight hormones causing blood pressure to rise, overproduction of white blood cells, and headaches, just to mention a few. This can make them feel like they have been in combat the whole day and tired at the end of it.
T. And finally, TIME.
Give people time to process what you have said and what they are going through. Time is a great equalizing item in your arsenal. It allows everyone a safe space to breathe in, it allows for ideas to bubble and pop.
Knowing what to do in situations like these might not come easy for you, but enough awareness and intention to do right by your people is a great start.