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?

my peers are lazy: how do I stay motivated?

My Peers Are Lazy: How Do I Stay Motivated?

So often we talk with clients or teams who are frustrated because their peers are lazy. Perhaps you’ve been there. What advice would you give to someone dealing with a slacker co-worker? 

Dear Karin and David,

How do I stay motivated when my peers are lazy? I’m working twice as hard as them and I’m sick of picking up the slack. My boss doesn’t seem to notice.


Tired and Frustrated #AskingForAFriend

If Your Peers are Lazy: A Few Dos and Dont’s

Dear Tired and Frustrated,

We’ve both been there, and you have a right to be frustrated. Keep in mind that these peers are temporary, but your track record is forever. Don’t let the #$#%@#%@# slackers tank your hard work. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider.

  1. DO keep rocking your role.
    Stay focused on your MITs (most important things) to serve your customers and the business. Stay creative. Chances are your boss is picking up a lot more than you know. Performance management conversations happen behind closed doors. I wish we could tell you how many performance issues we’ve dealt with that we longed to share with the high-performers we knew were frustrated, but couldn’t. Be sure you keep building your brand with a strong track record of results and collaborative relationships.
  2. DON’T gossip or whine about the scene.
    Whatever you do, don’t let their bad behaviors turn you into a jerk. Take the high road, and count on karma. 
  3. DO ask your boss how you can help.
    Resist the temptation to start with the words,  “I know we’ve got a lazy team…,” if it’s true, she already knows. Use this as an opportunity to become go-to support. With a team of slackers, she can use all the help she can get and will be grateful for your support (and a grateful boss can never hurt).
  4. DON’T become a victim. 
    You don’t have to do their work. Stay focused on your deliverables and nail them. If your co-worker consistently drops the ball, let him experience a few of the consequences. Do your best to foster a culture of accountability.
  5. DO build a network of support.
    Seek out folks with similar ambition and work ethic to support and challenge you. Find a mentor. Seek out peers on other teams. Take on a leadership role in a professional association.  Genuine connections are lighter fluid on the fire of motivation. Find people who get you and you admire and find ways to spend more time together.
  6. DO speak the truth.
    (Or as we often say: “Ditch the Diaper Genie“) When a team member breaks a promise or doesn’t deliver on their commitment to you, it’s often useful to have a healthy conversation about it. Start by observing the behavior. e.g. “I noticed that the report you said you’d get me isn’t in my email.” Note the consequences: “We can’t take care of the customer without that information.” Then invite them into the conversation: “What’s happening there? When can you have it to me?” Sometimes just the act of personalizing work and connecting what you need to why you need it can help slackers pick up their pace.

Who wants to play? What advice would you give Tired and Frustrated?


Have a leadership or management question? Send it here and we’ll do our best to share our perspective.


Great 360 Degree Feedback Tools

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Low on Your 360 Feedback Assessment

Without a doubt, the peer rating is by far the most consistent shocker for folks taking a 360 degree feedback assessment. Managers usually have a good grip on what their boss thinks, and at least an inkling of the pain points for their direct reports, but for some reason peer feedback tends to feel like stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night– yikes, where did THAT come from?

As I work with managers to dig underneath such painful perceptions, here are 8 key issues that continue to surface.

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Poorly

  1. You fight for your team at all costs.
    Of course this is generally a good characteristic, but anything taken to extremes can become toxic. Sometimes the best person for the special assignment is not the guy on your team, it’s Bobby on Mark’s team. Sometimes your team screws up. Sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park, even though your teams been working hard too. Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back to be able to stay objective.
  2. You hoard talent.
    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.
  3. You’re lazy.
    They’re tired of picking up the slack.
  4. They don’t know you.
    You show up, do you work, and go home. You don’t let anyone know who you are a person. It’s hard to trust a bot.
  5. You don’t know them.
    You work side-by-side but never take a personal interest in anything they’re doing. They’re far more likely to trust the guy in the next cube who remembers their mother is ill and that they like to eat pizza on Tuesdays.
  6. You withhold best practices.
    You’ve figured out a way to do the work faster, cheaper, or with higher quality–and you enjoy being at the top of the stack rank, so you’re slow to share the secret to your success.
  7. You don’t follow-through.
    They can’t count on you to do what you say you will.
  8. You under-communicate.
    You’re doing great work, but it’s in a silo. No one knows quite what is going on.

If you don’t know where you stand with your peers, it’s worth asking. Effective peer relationships are one of the consistent predictors of career advancement. 

Now Available

At last, my next book, Winning Well (being published by AMACOM) is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Winning Well-3DIt can feel like a rigged game. Executives set impossible goals, so managers drive their teams to burnout trying to deliver. Employees demand connection and support, so managers focus on relationships and fail to make the numbers. The fallout is stress, frustration, and disengagement, and not just among team members―two-thirds of managers report being disengaged.

To succeed, managers need balance: they must push people to achieve while creating an environment that makes them truly want to. Winning Well offers a quick, practical action plan―complete with examples, stories, online assessments, and more―for getting the results you need. Managers learn how to:

• Stamp out the corrosive win-at-all-costs mentality
• Focus on the game, not just the score
• Reinforce behaviors that produce results
• Set clear expectations―delegating outcomes rather than focusing on process
• Celebrate even small successes
• Correct poor performance using the INSPIRE accountability method
• Demonstrate confidence and humility
• Energize teams to sustain excellent performance
• And more!

Today’s hypercompetitive economy has created tense, overextended workplaces. Keep it productive, rewarding, and even fun with this one-stop success kit.

I know this book will add value for your teams. Pre-orders significantly help the positioning of the book in the marketplace. I truly appreciate the support of the LGL community in spreading the word, and buying some advance copies for your team.  

I’m also booking keynotes and workshops for the Winning Well book tour this Spring. Please call me at 443 750-1249 to discuss further.

Frontline Festival: 22 Leaders Share about Peer Relationships

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our August Festival is all about communication. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is a special edition! See details below.

 Twenty-two Ways to Strengthen Peer Relationships

What one word would your co-workers use to describe you? Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited gives an A-to-Z list of positive character traits for work.  Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership says your peers can help you do a better job sooner. Here’s how to get the most from their experienceFollow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC asks, “Where is the value in peer relationships?” Turns out, there’s quite a bit. Follow Michelle.

According to David Dye of Trailblaze, one of the most difficult leadership transitions you ever make is to move from being ‘one of the gang’ to leading that team. David shares practical tips to help you make this transition work and maintain your relationships.Follow David.

My film maker nephew, and LGL tribe member, Jared Herr with Steven Spielberg.

My film maker nephew, and LGL tribe member, Jared Herr with Steven Spielberg.

When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it’s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself. -Steven Spielberg

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Do you take pride in speaking the truth but often struggle to speak it in a way that others will hear and receive your message?  A spoonful of sugar helps!”  Follow Chery.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement advises that when you build a team-based culture the relationship between co-workers should nearly always be peer to peer (with exceptional cases where someone must take authority to make decisions that require reverting to the hierarchy on some specific decision). Follow John

Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across America shares that high trust organizations embrace collaboration which leads to higher productivity and profitability. Follow Barbara.

According to Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting, constructive work relationships can make or break a team’s success. To build meaningful connections with our peers, it is essential that we trust one another and cultivate an open line of communication. Follow Terri. 

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. – Stephen Covey

Melissa Lamson of Lamson Consulting  shares, “It may surprise you–as it did me–that there are still times when men have difficulty finding common ground with their female colleagues. Men and women both miss out on opportunities to build advantageous new connections in their industries. Here are ten tips to help men connect with female colleagues.” Follow Melissa

John Manning of Map Consulting reminds us that as leaders we have the power to make our direct reports feel good or bad about their performance.  So set a new goal to bring out the best in your people.  Follow John.  

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership explains why you need to pay attention to your peers, and offers 10 ways to get started. Follow Dan.

In the post, Why it is Imperative to Break Down Silos Now and Five Ways to Do It, Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that building trust, fostering collaboration, and being a role model lessens the friction points within your company and creates more productive alliances.  Follow Robyn.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships. – Henry Winkler

Scott Mabry of Soul to Work shares that leading in community is transformational. It moves our hearts and stimulates our minds. The paradigm of work and the organization changes. We become for each other, not just the firm or even the mission. Follow Scott.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting notes that the secret to getting more out of relationships is simple and yet so difficult to swallow. If you feel unfulfilled in any relationship, if you feel like you are not getting enough of out of it, then you are not putting enough into it. Follow Matt.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference asks, “Would your peers consider you in the category of ‘saint?’ Can any effective leaders be qualified as saintly? Here are a few virtues to pursue on the road to saintly leadership. Follow Jon.

Jonathan Moss of the Lead Change Group shares that clearly communicating the big picture and leading through change isn’t enough. Leaders have to figure out what behaviors need to change and change the situation that will lead to changing those behaviors. Follow Jonathan.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com has simple advice. Work on trust first.   Follow Michelle.

Our culture is all about shallow relationships. But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking each other in the eye and having deep conversations. – Francis Chan

Leadership Coach Julie Pierce (Empowered by Pierce) says leadership is lonely; therefore community is critical to our success.  Cultivating relationships with peers, coaches and 3am friends will make our leadership thrive. Follow Julie.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  points out that if you’re second in command, it doesn’t make you a second fiddle. You have a peer relationship, both with the unique ability to lead the way forward in different ways.  Follow Alli.

Jim Ryan of Soft Skills for Hard Jobs gives us a few good reasons why we shouldn’t judge others at work and how to stop doing it. Follow Jim.

It may sound silly, but you’ve got to remember to care deeply about the people you are training.  Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting, shares, “I remember to ‘love them’ which helps ground me in the truth that these are people coming with their own wisdom and experience. Follow Bill.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute  suggests that effective peer relationships begin with building a shared vision, supporting collective engagement, and promoting mutual respect. Follow Artika.

Call for Submissions

SPECIAL EDITIONFor October, we have a SPECIAL EDITION of the Frontline Festival. It’s about 7 Roles of an Exceptional Team Leader Submissions due October 9th. As this special edition coincides with the launch of my multi-media course Results That Last: 7 Roles Every Manager Must Master, I’m going to invite you to submit a post that relates to one of the 7 roles (you’ll actually see that almost anything you have will fit into one of the roles in the model.) The Special Edition will go live October 16th– and I’m hoping to make an extra ruckus.

The 7 Roles of an Exceptional Team Leader

Translator: Don’t motivate until you translate
Builder: To see more, be more
Connector: Trust them to trust you
Galvanizer: Help them taste the win
Accelerator: Burn the script
Backer: Detect, then protect
Ambassador: Polish the boundaries

You can read more about the 7 roles by clicking here.

And, if you can, I’d like you to think of a well-known leader that exemplifies the role you chose to include. (We’ll use this in a separate post on October 23rd again with links back to you, so there’s additional exposure). Please use this link for your submissions.

Stay-tuned for additional fun throughout the month, including an opportunity to celebrate every day life leaders performing exceptional in each of these roles.

Lunch Taboos You Should Break

You’re REALLY busy. No time for lunch. Better to grab some almonds and a diet coke and work through. The time you save at lunch gets you home sooner to your family. I’m with you. 

In fact when I was pregnant, my assistant announced she had blocked 30 minutes for me every day to walk to the cafeteria for lunch. I was allowed to move the appointment, but not delete it, for the sake of the baby.

Oh sure, I do business lunches, with an agenda and a purpose. And my sales team used to share that whenever I had something serious to talk about I invited them for a pumpkin latte. When sales started to dip, I would get a pre-emptive call: “I’ve already started scouting out the nearest Starbucks. I know you’ll want to talk.”

So I was surprised when a former colleague invited me to lunch. In all the years we worked together (in the same building) we hadn’t gone to lunch. Now he was at another company. I thought, he must need help. I’d better make the time.

What I Learned At Lunch

We met for lunch and I waited for the agenda to emerge. There was none. We got caught up on our careers and families. We talked about leadership and engagement, culture, common business challenges, hopes, disappointments.
And then he shared:

“You know the biggest difference between the 2 cultures? At my new company going to lunch is encouraged. Our entire culture is built on relationships. We have an open invitation to invite anyone from any other department to lunch, just to get to know them. No agenda required. And we can expense it.”

I laughed. My finance guy would never have allowed that (he was my finance guy). “Yup,” he admitted. As he picked up the check, I vowed to treat the next time. I got back to my office and looked and my calendar. Who could use a nice salad?

Peer Pressures: 5 Reasons You Frustrate Your Peers

Don’t destroy fantastic results with lazy relationships. Strong performers grow backwards when trust breaks down. Small issues mushroom overnight. Peers stop helping. Communication collapses. Careers derail. Without support, working harder can backfire. Unchecked frustration fertilizes conflict. Invest in your peers like you invest in your team.

5 Peer Problems

  1. Lack of Investment

    The Problem: It’s easy to under-invest in peer relationships. Leaders tend to focus on their team and boss first, and leave peer relationships to naturally evolve. Peer relationships take time and energy to grow properly. There’s a higher likelihood of competing priorities and agendas, and no natural hierarchy to inform norms.

    The Solution: Make a deliberate investment in the relationship. Take time to understand their 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.

  2. Too Many Spectators

    The Problem: You work the issues in meetings. Your disagreements have an audience. Sometimes conflict emerges in front of your boss.

    The Solution: Take issues offline. Stakeholder potentially contentious issues in advance. When conflict arises, call them afterwards to work through. Resolving peer conflict is not a spectator sport.

  3. You Don’t Ask For Help

    The Problem: You know they’re busy too, so you don’t ask for help. 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.

  4. You’re Not Acknowledging Their Contribution

    The Problem: Okay, suppose they did help you and now, you’re getting a lot of recognition for your work.

    The Solution: Stop give credit out loud to the right people. Make a big deal of how much they helped.

  5. You Don’t Proactively Share

    The Problem: You share, but seldom first. You look toward a balance of give and take.,/p.

    The Solution: Say yes as much as possible. Help as much as you can. Don’t keep score. Then, help some more.

Your peers provide diverse perspectives. Your peers have resources you need. Today’s peer may be tomorrow’s boss. Invest well.