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[How To] Pause before you vent

Where Leaders Learn
[How To] Pause before you vent
By Gillian Davis • Issue #39 • View online
“Venting doesn’t extinguish the flame of anger. It feeds it.” - Adam Grant

Agree with Adam Grant’s position above?
How many of you use a good ol’ vent sesh to let off some steam about someone you’re working with?
There are many scenarios at work that can trigger that kind of frustration within you, scenarios like….
  • You team member coming back with a half-finished job a few hours before deadline.
  • Your boss changing course in the middle of a project you’ve moved mountains to start.
  • Another team lead didn’t communicate a key change to the product and it makes your team look bad.
You can fill in your own blanks but I bet that for most of you, your knee jerk reaction when you are frustrated at work is to go let it out to whoever is ready to listen.
What’s the problem with venting?
Well, first off, a usually unfiltered venting session can send the wrong message to the receiver if they aren’t appropriately briefed.
I’ve made the mistake in the past of using 1:1s with my manager to vent about my team. I realise now that I was not only putting my team in an awful and undeserved light, I also wasn’t doing myself any favours. I don’t think my manager left those 1:1s with confidence in my ability to handle my team’s dynamics.
Side note: As you all know the amount of people you can open to candidly at work as you start managing people becomes more and more limited. Try to find someone outside of your team and your manager to have the unfiltered talks to.
I’ve also witnessed an open-plan venting session; where Team Lead A is sharing the frustrations they are having with Team Lead B in earshot of Team Lead A’s team. You can imagine how much of a barrier this creates between Team A and Team B. Say goodbye to healthy teamwork and cross-functional collaboration if Team A is conditioned to think that Team B’s lead is a problem.
Why do we do this?
In fast-paced environments, we work fast. At our worst we react, we blame, we protect ourselves and our territory. We don’t stop enough to reflect and we don’t think enough about how to move forward consciously. We just GO.
Managers are not taught or encouraged enough to lead with mindfulness and to recognise that working more consciously (aka ‘slow’) can actually increase pace, not hinder it, and to work more constructively together.
The next time you catch yourself on the verge of a good ol’ vent and you’re pacing the floor to look for someone to talk to, take a pause, maybe head outside and have a think. Don’t let the anger take over and make you look like a fool.
If you really need to let it out, find a buddy that know exactly that this is just a vent and not a reflection of reality. *Listen why finding a buddy is so important in a venting session*
Once you let it out, let it go. Don’t feed the anger, it will not serve you.
🙏Move on with a positive and open mindset 🙏
Fix the problem head on, maybe you need to give some feedback or maybe you just need to let it go.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this and I truly hope it sticks:
As a manager (or a senior person in your team), your words have more weight. Something you might say casually at the end of a long day in front of a junior member in your team can actually change their course of action or perception of people around them. Watch what you say in front of others.
Lead on,
G 🤟
This week's Leadership Playlist 🤔
Remind yourself what’s really important.
🔸“The most important thing is to pause.” Hmm..this sounds familiar. If you’ve got some time, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz shares his class on “How to Manage” from Stanford University. If you don’t love listening to videos, the full annotated transcript is available too. 🙌
🔸 Some of you might have resisted my advice earlier to not use your team as your vent club. Yes, transparency and openness within your team is important, but that doesn’t always translate to opening ALL the gates. Your job is to give them the information and context they need to do their jobs well. HBR has some good tips on how to open up without oversharing.
🔸Investing the time to reflect as a team at the end of a project is a great idea. Spending time before a project can be just as helpful. The team at Atlasssian walk us through how to run a PreMortem with your team to uncover and plan for the things that will always get in our way.
🔸One of the big causes of stress in many tech environments is the level on uncertainty that comes with the territory. When we try to latch on to ‘knowns’ we end up building a limited mindset. IDEO does a lovely piece on 3 Ways to Get Comfortable with Ambiguity with very actionable approaches to leading yourself and your teams into the unknown.
🚨What's New: ScaleUp Management Programme
Our ScaleUp Management programme has been designed specifically for managers leading within fast-growing businesses. We have made sure that we balance theory, space for reflection and practical exercises that can be put into practice immediately.
We only have three (!!!) cohort (9-12 participants) spots left in 2019 so if this sounds like something you, your team, your company, your portfolio, would benefit from then please drop me a line:
Here’s some lovely feedback from a Q1 Cohort Sponsor:
“I have seen a noticeable difference in the managers that have been on the programme and those who have yet to go on it. The managers that have been on it are more comfortable with the ongoing change, see that they have a role to play and are coming with solutions”
Did you enjoy this issue?
Gillian Davis

Helping leaders inspire and enable their teams.

Author: First Time Leader // //
Reach out @gilliandavis07

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