First things first:
Did you remember to turn your clocks forward?
For those of us who live in an area that still follows Daylight Savings, we shifted our clocks ahead one hour last night.
This elicits a groan from most people, and I honestly don’t know a single person who enjoys this semi-annual “mess up your internal clock” ritual.
And I have not heard a good argument for keeping it, now that we have harnessed the power of electricity (fun fact: Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879).
Happy Pi Day!
I love Pi Day – it’s a great excuse to indulge in my all-time favorite pie…apple!
My dad always loved chocolate cream pie…just checked, and it’s still his favorite. My husband enjoys apple – though pumpkin comes a close second.
None of us like pecan.
So you might be wondering, what does this have to do with Leadership?
Not everyone is going to like the same things. On your project, there will be some people with whom you just don’t connect.
Like turning our clocks ahead, maybe there is an executive who insists on 8 a.m. meetings (or 6 p.m.) or wants a detailed report of what every team member worked on for the past month, down to the half hour.
Or enjoying a slice of pie after a nice meal, sometimes you are served you own personal version of pecan. It could be a team member who knows what they’re doing, but you just don’t feel that connection. It’s tough to communicate with them. Or you find yourself on edge around them.
The reality is, to do our job and complete the project, we need to deal with these folks.
How do we handle working with them without frustration, resentment, or stress?
We can’t suddenly stop working with these stakeholders, just like we can’t suddenly love pecan pie. But we can get used to working with them and to make the best of the situation.
Here are some techniques:
- Learn their motivation. Observation is your friend. Why does that one executive need detailed reports? Pay attention to what they focus on in the report itself. They could be wrestling with a particular resource issue and really need the data. Or they’ve been burned on a past project and now they’re overly cautious. Once you understand their motivation, there may be more efficient ways to help them achieve their goals or reduce their stress…and achieve the same for you!
- Stick to business. Bottom line here is that we’re not on the project to make friends. Yes, we will be closer to some team members, but at the base of it all is the work to complete the project. When there is a stakeholder I don’t quite connect with, it’s much easier to focus on having a pleasant interaction that only involves the task at hand.
- Pay attention to how others react to them. Your responsibility is not only to get the project completed, but to help everyone achieve their best work. Are other team members avoiding your outlier? I take a look around the room and in the mirror: if a resource hits me wrong, it may only be me. As a consultant, I’m always heading into a new team. There are times when I’m put off by a team member’s actions or reactions, but learn “that’s just the way they are” and everyone else has figured out how to work well with them. Taking my cue from others helps me quickly adapt.
- Put it in perspective. Is this resource critical to the project or an extended team member? Do you need daily interaction or just a periodic check-in? Is meeting at 8 a.m. once each month really that big a burden? Take a step back – is the issue really as big as it feels?
- What’s the real impact? If your team member doesn’t communicate, are they avoiding responsibility? Or do they always tell you when something’s complete but aren’t inclined to check in just to…check in. The opposite could be true, as well: a team member demands too much communication and that doesn’t hit you right. Consider whether the extra communication is providing an ROI – spending the extra 15 minutes each week may help close some items faster, with fewer issues.
At the end of the day, each stakeholder on your project is uniquely human. You will get a blend of personalities, back stories, and preferences. Sometimes you get apple, but every once in a while you’re served pecan.
At the heart of leadership is seeing your team’s strengths and traits and knowing how to combine them to achieve the best project outcomes.