A few weeks into a new job, disillusionment . . .
It’s inevitable. A few weeks into a new job, the honeymoon passes, and we have our first ‘fight’.
Except, that unlike a relationship where we have mutual responsibility for getttng through a fight safely, at work, at work the blame usually falls on the employee. We get extremely anxious about this unwelcome feeling that our job sucks and that we have made a very bad move!
Temporary disillusionment is 100% predictable
In a well run firm, this should not happen. The crisis will happen ~ it is called storming, from the forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning sequence of group formation.
Every new relationship, whether personal or business, will go through a crisis of confidence as surely as the sun comes up in the morning.
What should happen, when we are running ourselves well, is that we wait for the storming. We even look forward to it, because storming marks the progress from the milling around of forming to “getting down to work”. We storm when we start working and we say “is this it? Is this worthwhile?”
Note well: we don’t have an anxiety attach until we start work! If there has been no storming, surely as the sun comes up, the employee is still in the forming stage. They still expect you to take all the responsibility and are yet to make the job their own. So welcome storming ~ even if sometimes it takes you by surprise!
How to manage storming when you are the manager
Your role as a manager, when storming begins, is not to panic! The first sign of an inexperienced (untrained, unsupported) manager is that they take the storming personally, or ignore it.
The employee is serious. He, or she, has issues. And they want reassurance. Is this job worthwhile? Your task is to remain calm and through that calmness, show you confidence in three things
- The doability of the project
- Your competence to lead the project
- & The employee’s competence to play the role that they were appointed to play.
Hesitate, show your own fears, panic, doubt the employee ~ and you confirm the employee’s worst fears. Your panic says to him (or her) that you also do not believe that this company, this team, this boss is not up to this job.
Please be calm and show confidence that all will work. And of course, if there is a specific issue, sort it out with equal calm and dispatch.
Task-oriented and socially-oriented reports
Now to make our lives a little difficult, employees don’t storm at the same points. They storm when they start working and different details will set off alarm bells.
One thing we can be sure of, though, is that highly task-oriented individuals storm earlier. Some will stat storlming before they arrive! Early stormers are more conscientious and results-oriented and consequently start questioning details early. Budget some energy for being the anchor they need and be thankful you have hired a workhorse!
Very sociable people are the opposite. They have to get their social bearings before they start work (just as task people must get their task bearings before they get social). They may take an interminable time to get down to work and they will take longer if you push them. When they are ready, they will begin; and they too will get a fright and storm. And maybe they start stormin months after the task-oriented individuals – so allow for it. Remain calm. That is what they are looking for. If you panic, if you believe they are attacking you, you will confirm their worst fears – that they are in the wrong job at the wrong time in the wrong place with the wrong people. Be calm.
How to manage your own storming
Now if you are in not-so-well-run firm and there is no one to calm you down when you start to panic, you are going to have to calm yourself down.
I’ve tried to make a heuristic for an individual to manage their own storming. Anyone? This one defeats me. After all, if I became involved as a coach/counsellor, I would a) calm down the report b) show the confidence the manager neglected to show and c) calm down the manager!
Maybe try this:
- Draw out the work process
- Mark every part that works quite well and you should continue
- Mark out every process that worries you and try to understand why the firm manages that process the way they do
- Keep your own counsel
- Be calm because calmness seems to be lacking around here
Hope that helps! Remember it is normal to have an anxiety attack shortly after the ‘honeymoon’. It means you care. It means you’ve started to deal with detail of the job! Enjoy!