TrustBUSTER™ #9 – Does not consistently follow through on commitments
It was a team of eight people and we had just gone through a DiSC assessment and were discussing the results. One of the individuals was particularly stressed out, and as we were talking through strengths and weaknesses she had an epiphany. She said “I am overwhelmed with my work and exhausted. I have too much to do because I cannot say no, and as a result I am missing deadlines.”
It is not normal behavior to not complete tasks on time. We are not all task focused people first, but under normal circumstances we should all be capable of hitting deadlines. So what gets in the way? Here are the four most common causes of TrustBUSTER™ #9:
- Ignorance – In his Situational Leadership Model, Ken Blanchard called the initial development stage the enthusiastic beginners. Remember when you would say yes to things, even though you had no idea how to complete the task? Also, remember that ignorance is only a temporary condition. (hopefully) Solution: Recognize ignorance and either shorten the performance leash (check in frequently) or offer to partner/coach through the task the first time.
- Trying to please – There are many different situations that contribute to this problem. Fear from seeing people lose their jobs that results in feeling that yes is the only answer. A high performing team of highly driven individuals and you want to do your share. A leader that puts in 70 hours a week, and there is an expectation (real or imaginary) to keep up. Solution: Focus on having conversations that define expectations and reveal how people are feeling about tasks. In addition, self-awareness and understanding how teammates are wired so the situations above can be addressed openly.
- Big eyes / little stomach – We have all been there. The buffet looked great and a little bit of everything is the decision. The certain outcome is feeling sick and dissatisfied. Some enjoy the challenge of too much or feel they are at their best when overwhelmed. Even the best take on too much sometimes. Solution: Make it a habit to have frequent discussions about priorities to make sure expectations are clear. Individuals have to learn to recognize limits and how an overloaded task list can negatively impact the overall team.
- Not enough time – There are people in every group that have time boundaries. Whether it is someone working part-time, a single parent, or maybe someone who has learned through a heart attack that they need to keep their stress levels down. Solution: Talk about it. Not everyone wants to live a life of too much to do at work. If it does not fit the culture (ex. a startup company) then get that on the table and make the decision that is best for the individual AND the organization.
How can a leader proactively address this TrustBUSTER™? First of all, leaders need to be fanatics about making it safe to question priorities. Secondly, making accountability a norm within the team is critical. Mistakes will happen, but missed deadlines have to be discussed openly and the problems/barriers have to be named and addressed. Always have the questions in hand “What will it take to get things back on track?” or “What has to change or fixed?”