How to Deal with Frustrating People in an RIE


Occasionally, within a Rapid Improvement Event, or daily interactions, we will deal with frustrating people.  Given the speed of an RIE it’s hard to slow down to deal with those frustrating people on the spot.  Here are four tips to help you deal with frustrating people in an RIE.

Keep perspective and have patience

Often when we get frustrated with people it’s because we are in a hurry ourselves.  Maybe they had a deliverable to meet but didn’t deliver on time.  We often make assumptions about people that aren’t true.  They’re lazy, or they did this on purpose to make me look bad.  All kinds of crazy things go through our minds.

Realize though, that you probably don’t know the whole picture.  Especially with everything that is going on in the current COVID environment.  Maybe they had a sick child at home that kept them up all night.  They could have had a death in the family or found out someone close to them needs to be quarantined.

Please be patient and keep perspective with the business environment today.

Have you truly been clear about what you need from that person?

Maybe you assumed they knew what you want but they didn’t want to ask questions for clarity.  When they deliver something else you become frustrated.  That is a sure sign that you did not deliver clear expectations of the deliverable.

Within the Rapid Improvement Event framework, everyone is working as a team and at a very fast pace.  It could be that you didn’t give clear expectations to a team member because of the speed of the event.  Maybe they got different input from others on the team.

That is why it is important to follow an RIE charter.  This keeps the RIE team focused and provides the guard rails within the event.  It forces the group to have a laser-like focus.

Consider peoples confidence and competence before you judge their actions

As I mentioned last week there is a psychological framework called the competence-confidence loop.  The more someone does something the more confident they become in doing that task.  This helps drive their willingness to complete a task.

A great tool to rely on as a leader that will help you reduce frustration is called situational leadership.  It considers a person’s skill and will around a task before assigning it to them.  A key thing to remember is that it is task-specific.  The same person may have different skills/will around different tasks.

Let’s use a mechanic as an example.  His/her skill/will might be high when doing brake work and you can delegate that work to them.  Maybe their skill/will is low on engine repairs.  Yet you delegate an engine repair job to them.  How is that going to make them feel?  Likely, they will be frustrated yet they might not say anything to you.

Given their skill/will around this task, this is not the correct leadership style to use in this case.  You can’t delegate to someone who has a low skill/high will.  You have to directly supervise them in this case.  Keep this in mind as you consider what work you assign to employees.

Realize you can’t control everything

People get frustrated because things happen that are outside of their control.  Realize it is not your job to control everything and everybody.  It’s impossible.

Have a servant leader mindset.  Realize that you might not know everything that is going on with an employee and their situation.  Understand that maybe you haven’t been 100% clear on what you want and people are not mind readers.  Perhaps you haven’t applied the correct leadership style around a task and your employee is frustrated and that you can’t control everything.

Keep these things in mind and you will be on the path to being frustrated less often!

As always, it is an honor serving you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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