This was quoted on one of the first courses I attended, as a management trainee. It was back in 1983. (As an aside, I mentioned this to a group on a Leadership workshop I was running last week – and three of them weren’t born in 1983! This felt a little strange…)
“Hand stress back to the rightful owner”. As a new manager, the trainers suggested that it would be quite likely we thought we would be able to fix everything. Including staff who shouldn’t be there, or systems that were beyond repair.
From the soft skills point of view, this sounds quite hard? But think about it…it is only negatively soft and squishy if you don’t push back. It’s not fair on the rest of the people around you if you get bowed under and ground down by you taking on what should belong to others.
Someone performing badly? Why should you defend them? Yes, you should support them directly to get better – but that involves development, coaching and them taking up the cudgels – not you doing it for them. And if they don’t take up the stress and the opportunity? Well maybe a different sort of stress needs to be visited upon them!
“Here’s the example of what you are doing. This is the effect it is having on me and others. This is what I expect in the future. So, what’s your first step?”
Being straight isn’t being too hard – it is absolutely appropriate in many situations.
It’s the same if you are a team member – and you get to much dumped on you. Learn to say no, and offer alternatives. Handing the stress back can easily be done without the No word. “I could do that – but I can’t get around to it until tomorrow afternoon. Does that fit your schedule?” And see them taking the stress right back!