7 mistakes that frustrate your coworkers

7 Big Mistakes that Frustrate Coworkers and Damage Your Brand

Have you ever ticked off your coworkers and didn’t know why?

You didn’t mean to. You’re working hard, moving fast, and advocating for your team. And one day you overhear two coworkers complaining about you in the hallway. Or you catch a peer typing “WTF” under the table in a staff meeting.

Avoid Damaging Your Reputation With Coworkers By Avoiding These 7 Mistakes

Here are seven big mistakes we’ve seen many well-intentioned, hard-working managers (sadly including ourselves) make while working diligently to improve the business—inadvertently ticking off their peers in the process.

1. Over-advocating for Your Team

The Problem:

Of course, advocating for, and defending your team, is generally a good characteristic. People want to know their boss has their backs.

But be careful to keep a realistic and balanced perspective.

Sometimes the best person for that coveted special assignment isn’t YOUR box nine candidate, but THEIR’S.

Sometimes it’s YOUR TEAM that screwed things up NOT THEIRS. And yes, sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park—even though your team has been working hard too.

Start Here: 

Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back and stay objective.

2. Hoarding Talent

The Problem:

When you’ve spent significant time developing your team, it can be difficult to let them go to another team or department—even if it’s in their best interest, or for the greater good of the organization. After all, who wants to be the farm team for the rest of the company?

Start Here:

Take the long-view. As you become known as a leader who both develops AND supports people’s career growth, you’ll become a magnet for high-potential talent drawn to that kind of support.

3. Unbridled Tenacity

The Problem: 

When you know you’re “right” it can be tough to figure out how to also be effective. When you disagree in front of an audience, particularly if that audience is your boss, even if you’re right, your peers may feel like you’ve thrown them under the bus.

Start Here:

Be willing to lose a battle or two. Stakeholder potentially contentious issues off-line. When conflict arises, pick up the phone instead of shooting off a frustrated email. Resist the urge to work out conflicts in front of others. Resolving coworker conflict is not a spectator sport.

4. Not Spending Enough Time Together

The Problem:

It’s easy to under-invest in coworker relationships. Leaders tend to focus on their team and boss first and hope the peer relationships will evolve naturally. Just like any human interaction, coworker relationships take time and energy to grow properly.

In addition, peer relationships are naturally tricky since you’re often competing in a stack rack, for resources or for senior leader attention.

Start Here:

Make a deliberate investment in the relationship. Take time to understand your coworker’s goals and objectives. Ask them what worries them and how you can help. Break bread. Learn about who they are outside of work. Invest in their success.

5. Not Asking For Help

The Problem:

When you know your coworkers are slammed, you don’t want to ask for help. But if others are reaching out and supporting one another, not asking for help can be perceived as arrogance.

Start Here: 

Take time to understand your coworkers’ strengths and areas of expertise. Ask for their advice or support from time-to-time. Of course, be sure to offer your support in return.

6. Not Acknowledging Their Contribution

The Problem: 

Okay, suppose they did help you. And now you’re getting praise for your great work. But forget to mention their support. And now they’re ticked.

Start Here:

Be gracious in your public gratitude and go out of your way to make a big deal out of the support you’ve received from others— particularly in front of the people that matter most to your peers.

7. Withholding Best Practices

The Problem:

Often high-performers will share if asked but are too busy (or competitive) to do so proactively. Or they don’t share because they don’t want to look braggy. Meanwhile, people are wasting time spinning their wheels because they’re unaware that a coworker has already figured out a better way.

Start Here:

Suggest ways to make it easy and natural for your team to regularly share best practices (here are some ideas on how to do that).

Sometimes when you’re moving fast and working hard, it’s easy to slip off of one of these slippery slopes and damage a peer relationship. It’s never to late invest more deeply for greater influence and impact.

Your turn.

What else would you add? What do you see as the biggest mistakes derailing coworker relationships?

Coworker Conflict: 7 Ways to Get Along with Other High-Performers

Coworker Conflict: 7 Ways to Get Along with Other High Performers

You’re passionate about your work and you’re nailing your role. You’re working hard and your results are on fire. And then in the middle of an otherwise raving performance review, your boss brings up the conflict you continue to have with another high-performing coworker.

“You’ve got to work on being a better team player.”

Ouch.

You’ve always prided yourself on building healthy relationships. But you’ve got to admit, the tension isn’t good. Not to mention, your team can smell it too. How can you expect them to work as a team, when you can’t get along with your peer?

We see it all the time–the conflict, drama and wasted energy between otherwise highly-competent high-performers. Stack ranked performance management systems can aggravate tension, but we often find it’s more complex than an artificial competition.

If you’re neck deep in conflict with a high-performing coworker, watch out for these behaviors.

7 Common Sources of High-Performer Coworker Conflict (and what to do instead)

1. You challenge them in front of others (particularly your boss.)

The Problem:

Your peer brings up a new idea at the staff meeting. You shoot it down with five reasons it won’t work. She’d mentioned the idea to you before the meeting and you had smiled and nodded. The truth is you weren’t really paying close attention. Now that you are really listening you’ve got some legitimate concerns.

Your co-worker feels belittled and bruised as she climbs out from under the bus you didn’t even know you were driving. “Why didn’t you tell me when I asked you before?”

You didn’t mean to be a jerk, you just want to get it right. The boss agrees with your concerns and once again praises your quick thinking.

The Solution:

Peer feedback is best given off-line. Give your input early, and then you can nod in full support of the enhanced plan.

your competition is mediocrity2. You withhold best practices.

The Problem: You’re trying some wild and crazy ideas, and you don’t want to share before you know they’ll work. Or you got busy and forgot to share. I know you’d never purposely withhold your great ideas, but your peers may not have the same interpretation.

The Solution:

Let folks know what you’re up to. If it’s half-baked, describe the batter and promise updates. Peers trust peers who share what they’re doing.

3. You take the credit.

The Problem:

When the praise is coming your way, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and just say “thank you.” And your co-worker is watching all this thinking “Are you kidding me, he’s not even going to mention all the work I did?”

The Solution:

This one is easy. Say “thank you” AND take a step back to consider and recognize your co-worker’s contribution.

4. You react poorly to feedback.

The Problem:

The surest way to lose friends and alienate people is to reject their feedback. If you stop hearing, they’ll stop talking (well, at least to your face.)

The Solution:

Be gracious and open to what they have to say. Pause to consider. If it’s stupid, shake it off. But always take the high road and thank them for their input.

5. You hoard talent.

The Problem:

You’ve nurtured gaggle of A players, but now you’re afraid to let them go. You’re sure to put the best talent on your projects and give the leftovers to support other objectives.

The Solution:

Have regular talent reviews with your peers and talk about potential next steps and developmental moves. Make a collective plan.

6. You don’t connect at a human level.

The Problem:

It’s easy to under-invest in co-worker relationships. Leaders tend to focus on their team and boss first, and leave peer relationships to naturally evolve. Co-worker relationships take time and energy to grow properly.

The Solution:

Go to lunch. Get to know them. Ask about their kids and hobbies. Do all the same things you do to connect with your team and boss. Understand their career aspirations. Ask how you can help. Side bonus, they’re likely to ask how they can help you too.

7. You don’t ask for help.

The Problem: You know they’re busy too, so you don’t ask for help. The trouble is that can make you look arrogant, or aloof.

The Solution: Understand their skills and ask for advice, or even support. There’s no greater form of flattery.

Like all relationships, it takes time, energy and deliberate focus to build trust and improve communication. It’s easy to think coworker relationships matter less than your direct reports, but often they matter more. Imagine the exponential impact of harnessing the collective power and support of other high-potential coworkers, channeling that wasted conflict into powerful collaboration.

Your turn. What advice do you have for building better relationships with a high-performing coworker?

A Few More Insights on Building Better Coworker Relationships

4 Powerful Ways to Get Meaningful Feedback From Your Peers

7 Ways to Lead Friends and Former Peers

4 Ways to Deal with A Toxic Coworker

leadership development Karin Hurt and David Dye

Frontline Festival: Leaders Give Pointers on Handling Conflict

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is about handling conflict in your team. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about building brand awareness. What approaches are you and your team using to build your organization’s brand? Submit your relevant blog posts here!

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog  presents how to handle in-fighting on your team by sharing four tips that help leaders break through communication barriers and eliminate in-fighting within their teams.  How to Handle In-fighting on Your Team  Follow Robyn.

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership says that a list of values that are simply a list of single words that are not clearly defined can lead to confusion and team conflict, as this true story demonstrates. 5 Tips to Ensure Your Values Unify Your Team, Not Divide    Follow Jesse.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership   says if you’re the boss, you have to confront team members about poor performance. When you do it promptly and well, everyone is better off.  Confrontation and Splinters   Follow Wally.

For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.  Margaret Heffernan

David Grossman of The Grossman Group  explains that conflict is a paradox that every leader faces:  Create teams that work well together but embrace conflict. Embracing Conflict: It’s Part of Every Leader’s Job  Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture  says when team members are of “one mind, one heart, and one voice,” there are fewer conflicts, better decision making, and more aligned performance.  Does Your Team Have “One Mind, One Heart, One Voice”?   Follow Chris.

From Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding: In all conflicts – the only person you will ever control is you…but learning to hold others accountable with compassion will grow your influence and your results.  Got Sugar?  Learning to Speak Truth with Grace   Follow Chery.

Amanda Cameron of Patriot Software, LLC knows that being the boss isn’t easy. Business leaders need to know how to handle conflict in the workplace to keep operations running smoothly. How to Handle Conflict at Work for Small Business   Follow Amanda.

Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are. Stephen Moyer

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates explores how to handle conflict well by pointing out that your team needs to have healthy conversations. She provides some tips for turning competitive talks into collaborative discussions. For Better Decisions: Convert Competitive Talking into Collaborative Talking  Follow Shelley

Nathan Regier of Next Element Consulting – Next From Nate  shares his viewpoint that when we mediate, manage, or reduce the conflict, we necessarily reduce the energy available for productive problem-solving. When we respect the tension and use that energy to create instead of destroy, the results can be transformative.  My Manifesto For Change: Conflict Isn’t The Problem  Follow Nathan.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference  shares his perspective about how business can be a power for good amid the the conflict that pervades our nation’s political discourse. It’s time for CEOs to become activists for positive change and help handle the conflict infecting our American team.   The Leadership Power Shift Underway (A Political and Business Undercurrent)  Follow Jon.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.  William Ellery Channing

From Paula Kiger of Weaving Influence: In this post, Paula shares the story of a father who sends his children to learn teamwork via a “challenge course.” The situation deteriorates when there is conflict over who will lead and who will follow.  Gambling on Leadership  Follow Paula.

Chip Bell of Chip Bell.com  challenges us to get a child to hear your positions and make recommendations.  There is nothing more sobering than hearing an eight-year old comment on your positions and practices.  Their innate humility and innocence can be a boon to seeing through the minutia and sometimes silly things that trigger conflicts.    Follow Chip.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited  knows that to handle conflict well, you sometimes owe someone an apology. She shares about a well-done apology she was given. How to Give an Effective Apology   Follow Beth.

 

 

A Good Mad is a Terrible Thing To Waste

Are you good at angry? Or, do you waste your “mads?” Angry informs. Angry teaches. Mad makes us care. Unless it doesn’t.

Use anger to fuel passions and accomplish change. Don’t respond with frustration, outbursts, or retaliation. All you’ll have then is embarrassment, regrets and apologies.

When you are really ticked off, don’t just get mad get thinking.

4 Ways to Use Your Mad

1. Understand Your Inner Mad

Try studying and documenting your anger for 2 weeks (10 Ways to Manage Anger at Work)

“What was the situation?”
“What disturbed me, put me off, or made me genuinely angry?” (This could be an action, way of behaving, a word, etc.)
“What did I think and feel when this occurred?”

“Mad as heck” patterns help you understand your leadership values.

2. Be Mad Better

When you’re mad it’s tempting to raise your voice, throw insults, and say useless words. Some insights on the destructive nature of ignored anger (American Psychological Association).

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.

Great leaders cultivate their ability to manage emotions, so that they are in control. 

3. Teach From Your Mad

Use your anger to create “teachable moments” for your team or other leaders. Chill first– you can’t teach with your head exploding.

Explain exactly WHY you are frustrated. When your team is angry, help them explore and understand their emotions.

Help leaders become better by watching bad leaders.

4. Act Against Your Mad

Anger motivates (psychological benefits of anger). I blog to act against my enemy of “bad leadership.” What makes you mad? What are you doing about it?