I’m Down, Don’t Kick Me – Help Me Up.
The last thing I want to hear when I’m down is that I’m down.
The first person to know that they are struggling is the person struggling. The Project Team or the delivery partner organisation likewise know when the heat is on – they don’t need a kick, they need a hand.
It’s like shouting to the drowning man…. that you can see he’s drowning.
I’m struggling in the relationship, to deliver, to perform and I know it – what I want to hear is one of two things:
- That you know its a blip and that you are 100% still committed to me and who or, what I am – and WE will find a way out and up.
- Or, that you know I’m down and out of my depth and you are going to take decisive action to end my struggle. You may not be committed to me in this role but you will help me to a place where I will thrive and feel good about myself again. (You throw me a lifeline so I can make my way to that better place)
In a collaborative arrangement the reaction to a struggling partner can fall short of a decent response – purely out of habit.
Either, its too difficult or scary to confront the issue (see 2 above) because habitually we avoid confronting sticky issues. Or, the other ingrained reaction is to let the partner fail – because it might have been to our advantage in the traditional contractual arrangement. It’s hard to break a habit.
First things first. You know someone is struggling. Now honestly ask your self “Am I fully committed to this persons future with me /us?” If the answer is yes make sure they absolutely know that beyond any doubt. That’s sometimes all we need, to be told that in the midst of our struggle someone is fully committed to us then we can pick ourselves up, dust off and get reinvigorated.
If you can’t get committed to them – let them go. That is the honourable thing to do – to free people to find a place where they are valued and have a bright future.
You are not a bad person because you can’t work in an alliance – you are just the wrong person. Separate the behaviour from the person. It just so happens that on this project we don’t want that behaviour so, therefore, for the greater good we are going to move you on. Tough choices by brave leadership.
To really, really help someone grow, learn or understand you may have to end their struggle for them,it’s a humane act. To do nothing is cruel.
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelnukular