How (Not) to Treat Your Team When They Are Stressed Out
A little empathy and understanding in such situations goes a long way
“Why didn’t you update the time sheet?” asked the Tech Lead in an angry voice.
“I worked until late at night yesterday. I forgot. I’ll do it immediately.” said the developer, who was questioned by the lead in a meek voice.
“I think my instructions were quite clear. Update the tasks that you have completed throughout the day in the time sheet at EOD without a miss. It seems you don’t follow my orders!” said the lead in an angry tone.
“And what were you doing?” the lead barked at one of the senior developers who was in charge of mentoring the junior developer.
“It’s your job to ensure that they (junior developers) log their spent time daily.” said the lead vexingly!
“But I…..,” the senior developer was about to explain but was cut short by the lead.
“How am I supposed to present this incomplete time sheet to our top management? This is all your fault!” the lead continued berating the senior developer and the rest of the team.
The above conversations are just a small part of the scene that played out in one of the daily stand up meetings that I attended recently.
One might think that the team had indeed messed up, and the lead had every right to be angry.
But no. That wasn’t the case.
The team was updating its time log daily, even religiously! But it was just this one day when one of the developers had missed doing it.
It wasn’t her fault. She was stressed from working late on weekdays and also on the weekends for the whole past month. And so was the entire team!
When you work under high stress for 10–12 hours a day, it becomes challenging to focus on simple tasks (such as updating your daily task log) at EOD.
And hence some of us chose to do it the next day!
It’s not really a big deal. As long as the time sheet is updated before it’s presented to the higher-ups, it’s fine.
The lead should have shown a little empathy for his team that had been working overtime to keep up with their client’s (overbearing) demands!
But no! He chose to demoralize them further by coming down heavily on them for such a small mistake!
The team felt frustrated. This spoiled their entire day. And it probably (no, definitely) added to their (already high) stress levels.
Moral of the story?
When your team’s on the grind, learn to show some empathy.
People make mistakes when they are under stress.
Do not chide them publicly in front of the entire team. Politely bring up the mistakes in a one-to-one chat and get them rectified.
It’s more effective, precise and doesn’t embarrass the person in question.
What do you guys think?
Add your answers in comments below 👇