Why can’t people in my team be more like me?

Ever paid someone what you think is a compliment, only to find they take it as an insult? We tend to think others are just like us. Unsurprisingly, they’re not so it’s common to see misunderstandings arise in teams.

Written by: Diane Wilkinson Photography by: Emma Shipperley

Similarly, when we find someone irritating it’s tempting to imagine that it’s their fault. Especially if they don’t seem to have much concern for other people or their feelings. But blame and resentment aren’t helpful in a team environment. And sometimes the things we find annoying in others can give us a clue about ourselves.

So – for example – I find myself getting annoyed when people keep changing the time of a meeting. But it’s something I used to do myself, without even thinking about it. It’s so easy to see the impact other people’s choices have on us, without seeing the impact of our own actions on others.

We can shrug our shoulders and walk away. Or we can stop, think, and ask ourselves, “What do need to do or say differently?” We need to listen to the other person’s feedback to understand how what we said or did came across to them. To have the impact that we want, we may need to move out of our comfort zone and change our behaviour in a way that can seem difficult. That’s what the choice-impact model is all about.

It’s about making the most of our strengths and being brave enough to go out of our comfort zone to do something differently to get the impact we want. It’s not either or, it’s both and!

The choice-impact model

What impact do I have on others?

The choice-impact model in practice

Consider those people. The ones who wait to do something right up to the day before the deadline. Who procrastinate, do something else, take a break and still avoid the main thing they wanted to do. And then, somehow, manage to finish a week’s work in a matter of hours. On the other hand, you have Mr/Ms Organised who has every single action meticulously timetabled into their diary to avoid the (otherwise inevitable) last-minute panic.

Ms may find Mr Organised’s rigidity frustrating, while Mr Organised may find Ms’s chaos unpredictable and stressful. But we have to recognise, our way isn’t necessarily the right way and although we are very different, both approaches come with strengths. We need to learn how to work effectively with each other by recognising the impact our preferred behaviour has on the other person, and alter what we do in order to get the response we would like.

To begin with this can seem difficult, or strange. But it will get easier, and it will definitely improve team working.

So, if people don’t always respond in the way we expect it isn’t necessarily their fault. Instead we can stop and listen to feedback – and act on it. This is how we can shift from being a ‘good’ leader to a ‘great’ one and turn a team from high performance to peak performance. And I speak from experience.

To see how we could help you and your teams work better together, get in touch. We would love to hear from you!

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