In a crisis, we can all slip into knee-jerk reactions. No sooner have those words left our lips than we quickly find out that our knee-jerk reactions don’t protect us or make us look good. You may have, in fact, made things a whole lot worse by reacting too soon. We’ve all witnessed an example of the consequences of a knee-jerk reaction approach in the latest news around Omicron, right?
How do you and your team react in a crisis?
First, you need to know the behavioural styles of your team and how to communicate with them. Second, you need to understand your team members’ T.E.A.M. thinking styles.
You don't want to put somebody who has a super-low ‘Theorist’, but high ‘Executor’ thinking style in charge of coming up with five new ways you can bring sales in. Someone who has a high ‘Theorist’ thinking style would be able to quickly think of new ideas, and then the ‘Executor’ and ‘Analyzer’ styles would be able to strategise and determine which ideas would work and how they would implement that process. Knowing how people think in teams is so valuable.
Also, knowing the BAI (behavioural attitudes index) of teammates, or their pressure points, is helpful for understanding what affects your team members’ attitudes under stress, and how you can motivate and inspire them.
Once you understand your team, how they react under stress and what they’re passionate about or what things motivate them, then you can analyse their needs.
How well do you understand and know your team?
Here are a couple of knee-jerk behaviours to avoid that could make matters worse.
1. Verbal punches. Punching back will only drive people away. Ask questions and listen for the facts. If someone is being verbally abusive to you, don’t punch back. Instead, state clearly that you expect basic human respect.
2. Extremism. If someone is criticising your behaviour, perhaps they could see you as someone that’s too aggressive. Ask for examples and grow from the feedback.
3. Defensiveness. This is the common one that makes you look insecure, immature and irresponsible.
4. Labels. In tough moments, communicate with specifics. Labels cause trouble and they’re rarely true.
5. Revenge. Especially if you have power, it taints the culture with toxic fear that lasts for a very long time.
6. Avoidance. You may need to take a step back for a moment to gain your composure. But don’t avoid trouble altogether and this will make you seem incapable. Learn to face your fears and your career will soar.
7. Blaming others. This never goes down well and blaming others as an immediate response to trouble is just not acceptable and very damaging.
Knee-jerk reactions have one common horrible effect — they destroy trust. Whether you are a leader or a team member, it’s critical that others can trust that you will be mature, civil, respectful, and open to dialogue. In tough moments, take a breath and tell your ego, “You’re safe”. Then picture yourself ready to learn and grow. Listen, ask questions, ask for examples, and show everyone your emotional intelligence.
In my next column, I will give you my 10-Step Plan on how to collaborate with the different personality styles.