It’s the first Wednesday of the month and Andy who is an outnumbered millennial team member finds himself sitting in a monthly managers meeting. He is nervous and his anxiety levels are through the roof. His baby boomer boss Robert is about to call on him for his monthly report and Robert has little tolerance for anything short of stellar results.
This meeting has gradually become more uncomfortable for Andy, any time that he hasn’t achieved a goal or completed something to Robert’s satisfaction Robert leaves him feeling like he might be only one step away from the good bye door.
Andy is frustrated. He works hard, puts in extra time, but doesn’t always meet the high expectations of Robert. When Andy asks for advice on how to do it better or to learn more, Robert typically delivers a non-supportive and chilly response leaving him with the impression that he shouldn’t have asked.
Andy is smart and quick on his feet and that is why his peers label him a fast tracker, but still when he is called upon to perform at manager meetings there is little tolerance for shortcomings. For Andy, the environment sometimes feels like a swimming pool, sink or swim.
This story and many others like it come to me from time-to-time. Sometimes it is through a training event, a consulting engagement, or coaching session. In other cases it might represent a friend of a friend, emailing or telephoning me with a question. The point is, this is fairly common, but what should Andy do?
The Real Problem
In his mind Andy knows he could make the argument that Robert should be more patient, perhaps be more understanding, and that he should provide Andy with some possible solutions or tips for improvement. Most people might agree with Andy’s argument, but that agreement doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most tactful solution.
Breaking this situation down it would seem that Robert expects Andy to find potential solutions, jump any hurdles and through any hoops to achieve the result. Andy needs to deliver.
Look For Alternatives
Andy might feel a little intimated, after all he is one of the youngest members of the team. Not only does he want to do a good job but he also wants to be respectful. It might feel a little uncomfortable to choose a more assertive approach.
If you consider that fear might be a factor, causing Andy to hesitate, stall, or procrastinate, I should remind you that personal or professional growth sometimes requires you to step out of your comfort zone.
Andy should seek to find some possible alternatives that will lead to more successful outcomes, but he’ll also have to risk speaking up to bring them forward.
His delivery should be presented with appropriate poise and confidence but yet be humble enough to achieve the acceptance, guidance, or permission from Robert that he has been missing.
Employees at all levels often bring problems to a meeting, after all that might be one of the reasons for the meeting.
So what do most meetings need?
Most meetings need solutions.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.