What Wise Leaders Do When Team Members Disrupt Team Performance

You lead teams. You notice that George is often late for meetings. When he arrives he asks all the questions that have already been answered. Yet he needs the information. Much time is wasted managing the “George effect”. You also notice that people, in response to George “shut down” their interactions. No one confronts him. Including you.

Like everyone else, George’s “disrespect” (as you interpret his behavior), drives you crazy. You feel your anger rising up from your belly to your head. You want to blast him for being disruptive. And blow up at your team for their passivity. But you don’t because you don’t want to look bad. Or because you don’t know how to phrase it without reacting, vibing or venting. So the team, the company and you suffer in steely silence.

What’s a team leader to do?

As you probably well know, if you let your emotions get the best of you, you’re likely to go on a rant about all of the above. The result?
George’s behaviors might change for a meeting or two, but eventually, they will slide back into the same old, same old.  Why does this happen?
Because a rant is not a problem-solving process. It’s venting with momentary relief. It is not forward-looking.

It’s time to learn a superb technique that places the responsibility for George’s behavior back where it belongs.

You say, “George, I notice that you’ve been late for the last six meetings, then you ask questions that we dealt with before you arrived. Can you help me out here? What can be done to break this cycle?”

Say this in a neutral tone of voice, without eye-rolling, even though your lizard brain is urging you to punish and humiliate George.

By activating your own change in tone and behavior, your intention is to address George’s behaviors without being accusatory and to enlist his goodwill in addressing the problem… his problem, so it stops being your problem.

The next steps are to work with George so he chooses behavioral change i.e. gets to meetings on time.

Then you say to the team, “I’m curious as to why no one has said anything to George about his lateness.” Your intention here is to stop the silence game in its tracks and name the elephant (it’s not about George, it’s about his choice to be late) so this strategy gives everyone else permission to discuss how to manage people who are late to meetings. Silence snuffs the life out of team interactions.

I realize the above scenario can be more complicated than I’ve outlined.

The old adage of checking your emotions at the door no longer applies to the workplace. This isn’t to imply that expressing anger and frustration is now suddenly acceptable. It’s to focus on the fact that emotion is energy in motion (e-motion).

Remove the emotion, you snuff out the energy, the passion.

To be an effective leader and team member, you must be willing and able to be aware of and self-manage your emotions, rather than suppress them or let them run havoc. Your ability to be aware of your emotions provides you with important information (George being late is making everyone frustrated and is wasting time.)

Having an internal awareness that something is affecting you is one way to interpret the concept of Emotional intelligence (EQ).

Your ability to self-manage and choose your behavior to respond to George in a way that gets results means you have learned Behavioral intelligence (BQ). It is a set of skills and abilities that you choose to use instead of your typical reactions. The most effective behaviors can lead to the best possible outcomes for individuals, teams, and situations.

Emotional Intelligence informs you when to use behavioral intelligence to activate effective thinking, decision-making (relative to what you want to accomplish whether it be a task or in a relationship). When you are aware of the outcome you want and can manage your emotions you are more likely to follow-up consistently so that George gets the message that being late is not good enough. Your self-management combined with thoughtful and well-executed behaviors and follow up make you a far more powerful and less stress-out leader.

Tracking the Cost of the George Effect

Vivo’s uses an algorithm to track the cost of people problems. Such analytics measure the behaviors of emotional intelligence on a team, then we train that team to develop their EQ and BQ skills.

Here is a real-life example to prove that changing how you speak with team members emotionally, delivers bottom-line results. You are looking at our analytics report showing how much this team has improved after training and implementing our recommendations:

Vivo Team worked with this struggling team (who had several “George effect” problems) and their leader over 16 weeks. The training was made part of the “flow of their workday.” It allows people to put their learnings into action, get feedback and feedforward and to share their learnings and applications with their teammates in the next online session.

This team increased its Emotional Intelligence by 38%. They started out with an overall score of 52 (RED) and increased it to 72 (GREY).

What is even more significant is the impact that these analytics reveal for the bottom line. The diagram below shows a dramatic reduction in productivity costs:

Our algorithm calculates a team’s efficiency based on a set of behaviors. This team was operating at a 59% efficiency before the training and increased its efficiency to 73%.

Their Cost of Lost Productivity was $73,800 before training and $56,288 after the training – a pick-up of $17,512 at a cost of $4,997 for the training.

Before the training, this team was “driving with its brakes on” while having a “lead foot on the accelerator” thereby wasting energy, stressing out over disagreements and unclear interpersonal communication and missing deadlines.

As a result of the training, they could actually ease up a bit on the accelerator. This counter-intuitive strategy surprisingly allows them to get traction faster, in a more relaxed way using far less energy.

So what about you and your team?

Evaluate yourself against each statement so you become aware of what you do well naturally and what areas may provide you with better influence if you learn how to put them into practice.
All are Yes or No.

  1. I am mostly aware of how my behaviors affect others, for better or for worse. 
  2. Would the team that works with me agree with my self-assessment in question 1?
  3. When I am upset with someone, I can self-manage my negative feelings.
  4. Would the team that works with me agree with my self-assessment in question 3?
  5. I express my appreciations to others when warranted.
  6. Would the team that works with me agree with my self-assessment in question 5?

A team also has a level of emotional intelligence, which is the combination of all the participants.

How would you rate your team? All are Yes or No.

  1. People on my team make an effort to understand others’ points-of-views.
  2. Most of the time team members seek to understand others’ concerns and difficulties.
  3. Team members speak up in order to clarify issues.
  4. Team members help each other out when others are stuck.

From this little diagnostic you can get a general idea of your own and your team’s, levels of awareness with respect to Emotional Intelligence. Do you have more or less emotional intelligence operating on your team?

Read on to gain insight into the five self-awareness strategies and accompanying behaviors this team mastered which will allow you to manage most ‘George Effect’ situations on your teams.

Ramping Up Emotional Intelligence Drives Team Results and Reduces Leader Stress

1. Self-Awareness
When you understand how your behaviors affect others, and how others react/respond to you, you have the ability to change.
We cannot change anything that we are not aware of.
Your behavioral intelligence will compel you to ask for and be open to feedback and feedforward.

2. Self-Management
Being willing and able to manage your emotions allows you to engage your behavioral intelligence so you arrive at a useful outcome.
An element of behavioral intelligence is in your competence and motivation to insulate yourself so you don’t activate yours and others’ “hot buttons.”

3. Empathy
Empathy expands when you become curious about and seek to understand the others’ context. You cannot feel what another is feeling, you can only make an attempt at understanding their context and perception.
Your competence and motivation to listen to others with the intent to understand them is a measure of your behavioral intelligence.

4. Social/Team Skills
Actively cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships improves your ability to count on that network. Basically, it’s about how well you play with others.
You demonstrate your behavioral intelligence in how you build collaboration while effectively dealing with the inevitable conflicts that are part of any talented, ambitious team.

5. Leader Assertiveness
The most effective leaders are situationally effective followers. The most dynamic followers are those who step into a leadership role when necessary.
Companies pay leaders for our experience, skills, problem-solving capabilities, opinions, judgments and our desire to contribute. Speaking up, participating, engaging, contributing are the behaviors with which we demonstrate our leader assertiveness.

Investing in conquering the George Effect on teams saves money, increase traction and employee satisfaction and reduces stress. To have your teams take the diagnostic and find out how we can drive down your costs, contact us at 778-734-0444 or hello@vivoteam.com and we’ll show you how.

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