Week 10: 2018 [Planning & Dealing With Difficult People]

Hard to believe it but there are only 42 weeks left in 2018. That means we’re 19% done with the year. That’s right, in just a few weeks Q1 will be over. Did you hit your business goals? Are you ahead of schedule? Behind schedule? Do you have a schedule? Planning is one of those topics that people have strong emotions towards. They either love or hate it. Yet, productivity really happens when we accept what planning really is – tracking.

Planning allows us a few things out of the box.

  • It gives us a destination or target
  • This allows us to track our progress
  • Even more important we get the chance to check setbacks before and after they happen

Perfectionists will over plan and by swimming in a pool of too many details it will be impossible for them to separate out what is actually important. They’ll tell you in their language that they’re perfectionists by using phrases like, “But you said” or “That isn’t what we planned.”

Lazy people won’t plan because it will force them into areas of accountability, responsibility, and dependability. We know who they are by saying things like, “We can’t plan” or “Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future.”

Let’s answer those four questions because from a CEO perspective or high-level of management these two sides of the coin can cause us great delays in accomplishing our goals.

I’ll start with tackling the “But you said” personality. This person is usually trapped in a game called “I’m Right/You’re Wrong” and it is actually a game I use in sales training. The purpose is to help people understand that no deal will materialize with this type of mentality. Why? Well, because both parties will be right and wrong at the same time. We see this easily in cross-cultural negotiations. What works in the west will not always work in the east. Same is true for eastern cultures trying to impart their ways on western people. Yet, both are right from their experiences. This is so important to remember in negotiations. The truth is we can both be right and in disagreement. That’s the paradox.

The answer to this person is always simple and usually gets them on track because they’re trapped in the past. Here’s the dialogue, “Yes, I said that and then I’ve gotten new information. That has forced me to look at the situation again with a new direction.”  Rigid people rarely know they’re rigid. This type of dialogue tends to wake them up, allowing them to become present, and set a new direction. It works because we own our part by simply saying that we did say what they heard. We get it on a new direction because we give them the information they missed or we failed to tell them.

Now let’s tackle the “That isn’t what we planned” personality. This one is more complex. They could be passive/aggressive, building a case, or injustice collectors. Two of them we can deal with and generate stronger productivity from and one needs immediate removal from our company as soon as possible due to their psychological toxicity levels.

All of us will be passive/aggressive at times. We’ll feel like speaking up and won’t. Then the shame of that inaction will build up and we’ll become aggressive because of our natural need of being heard. This is normal and quite common with conflict avoidance personalities. Of the three, they’re the easiest to get on track with something as simple as, “I know and I’m sorry that I forgot to tell you that we changed direction. That’s my fault and I won’t do that in the future.” If they’re super important to you get their opinion and as a group decide what is the best course of action. In the future, remember inclusion means sharing information that changes us with those around us.

The next personality is tricky. We need to find out if they are the toxic “injustice collector” or “building a case.” Why is this important? Well, the latter turns into the former. Let’s start with the building a case solution. This is where a little conflict is worth pushing for by being direct. We need to call them out especially if they’re not the leader of the team. Remember the tell is in the tone of how they’re saying, “That isn’t what we planned.” If we’re the leader and they’re the follower – then they’ve just showed their hand by using the phrase “we planned” in the dialogue.

Everyone likes to feel they are they leader. The answer to this one is simply to state the question back but from our perspective by trying something like this, “Excuse me. Could you please tell me what we planned?” This does two things. First, it let’s them know that they’ve said something offensive and gives them the chance to apologize. Second, it forces them to show leadership skills. Maybe they’re right and we missed something. Finally, it forces them to show what’s really going on underneath.

This is important because these are the two personality types that generate gossip over being a healthy team player.The injustice collector starts by building a case and then they will eventually attack. It’s important to remove that before it escalates.

The other one is much easier because we just need to impart to them all the massive benefits generating by simply making a choice to avoid being lazy. These are the philosopher types and usually once a stronger proposition to their way of thinking gets presented properly they’ll change course or not. If they do, then they can become valuable team members. If not, then it is time to help them find their new opportunity.

When someone says, “We can’t plan.” look at them and say, “I can plan What you’re telling me is that you can’t plan or don’t want to plan. Which is it? This opens up a dialogue that can help them break out of fears to become extremely productive. These moments are mentoring moments and we shouldn’t miss them if possible. Plenty of people lifted us up before. We can always give that back.

Now my favorite, the “Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future” person. This is how they make themselves unaccountable and it is important to kill them with kindness through “I” statements. “I do. I absolutely know the future. We’re going to execute this plan. It will do one of three things. Work, fail, or something in between. Are you in or out on executing the plan?”