Sick and tired of being sick and tired? 6 Ways to Snap out of Role Nausea

You are getting to work and you realize you forgot to pick up the donuts for the morning staff meeting. UGH. You ALWAYS get the donuts. No one else even remotely volunteers to pick them up instead of you. Why in the world did the title of Production Manager land you the job of “donut getter”. You did it at first to be nice and now no one else in the entire group will pick up the slack and be the “donut getter”.

role nausea

Do you know what this is? It’s role nausea. You are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old roles. I learned about role nausea during systems coach training by CRR Global. It truly is possible to try on some new roles and to break out of the rut of old roles. It’s just takes a little understanding about how systems work. You may not think you are in a system but everything is a system. Your department, your company, your marriage, your family, and your basketball team are all systems and they are full of inner roles (i.e. Peacemaker) and outer roles (i.e. Production Manager). Role nausea as written in my ORSC training, “Occurs when someone becomes heartily sick of the same role.”

So here are the ways to snap out of role nausea:

1. Define what kind of role this is. Roles can be outer (something outlined in your job description like setting up a production budget), they can be inner (something like nurturer hence the donut getter) or there can be ghost roles (this represents something that is not here anymore but still has an impact, like an ex-CEO who was a micromanager). So if it’s likely found in your job description then you are probably dealing with an outer role which from a systems standpoint is a little bit easier to deal with. The inner roles can be naturally baked into our personality. If you are the one who is always the peacemaker it doesn’t matter if you are the receptionist or Production Manager, you end up taking on that role regardless of the circumstances. The ghost role can float in from anywhere and represent something that doesn’t exist anymore like your ex-boss or the way things were before children. Define what role you want to work on.

2. Gather the troops to discuss the team roles. This is ideally done by an outside coach (Work with me!). Educate the group on the types of roles as defined above, and point out that roles are functions and not people. Make sure they are open to collaboration. The easiest to work on are the outer roles first. These are more apparent and identifiable as well. Find out what outer roles folks are sick of or where there might be some confusion. Role confusion is when it’s not clear who is responsible. Like I thought I was the agenda maker but sometimes when the meeting gets moved, Suzy is the agenda maker. Have everyone write down or bring up any roles that are at issue. Find the roles that are at issue, write them down and put them out in front of the group. This separates the “role” from the person.

3. Brainstorm ways to handle the roles differently. It’s important that if you are facilitating this and you happen to be the boss that you listen instead of direct. Try not to be attached to the outcome or pretty soon your direct reports will be just giving lip service and trying to anticipate what you want to hear. This is about new ways of doing things so be open and listen. Ask a few open ended questions and then shut up. Let the group do the talking and don’t shoot down any ideas. Make sure you write down the ideas that come up and validate every one of them if possible.

4. Come up with a plan and verify that everyone is aligned. One of the tenet’s of Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Behaviors of the Cohesive Team is that we have to be OK with conflict. You have to be open to hearing everyone’s view point because then they will buy in as long as they were “heard”. So if you are trying to nail down the action plan and someone’s body language is screaming that they aren’t on board (i.e. rolling of the eyes, deadly silence); be sure to go back to step 3 and probe some more. Consensus is not needed. Only alignment. We don’t have to agree on which way we are headed from Point A to Point B but I need to hear you out without punishment or judgement.

5. Verify next steps. Coaching always involves next steps. It is pointless to talk about what you want to do differently and then do nothing different. Who is going to be the donut getter now? Does Tommy need to verify that he can get his kids to day care earlier so he can get the donuts (cough, we all know this would probably be done by a woman but that might be my ghost talking). Always get to action. What are we going to do differently in the future?

6. Rinse and repeat. Follow up in the future to make sure it’s working. Or it’s not working. Hold folks accountable to ensure what they said they would do is what they did.

You may find out that the issues continue. This is likely because of ghost roles (woman always get the food for meetings) or inner roles (I am always the nurturer and I feel most comfortable nurturing regardless of the role nausea). This will require coaching on a deeper level. The main thing is to air the issue and put it in front of the team. Sometimes even just expressing the role nausea and other folks showing appreciation for their efforts is enough for someone to continue on. What role are you sick of?

Stepping into Conflict; It’s OK to Rock the Boat

Over the last few months there have been several events accompanied by insights that bubbled up into an enormous realization; I avoid conflict. I think a lot of us avoid conflict but I realized this had become an almost daily occurrence. The illusion has been that if I avoid something uncomfortable like telling my son “No”, he will remain happy and the conflict will go away. In reality, it just builds. It may not appear today but that conflict will be back or the effects of not saying “No” will have a long term impact. The worst case scenario is that a relationship whether at work or personally, can be irreparably harmed.

I recently facilitated a fantastic new training model called “5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” based on a book by Patrick Lencioni. The first behavior is vulnerability based trust, (i.e. can I admit mistakes, can I ask for help, showing weakness, etc.) and the second behavior is constructive conflict. Patrick describes conflict:

“Therefore, it is key that leaders demonstrate restraint when their people engage in conflict, and allow resolution to occur naturally, as messy as it can sometimes be. This can be a challenge because many leaders feel that they are somehow failing in their jobs by losing control of their teams during conflict.”

Just replace the word parent, partner or friend into that quote for “leader” and child, spouse or coworker for “team”. I realized that I felt like conflict was failing whether it was with my husband, my mother, my assistant or my son. It turns out that stepping into conflict is critical and necessary for all teams, relationships and marriages. Wow. So my avoiding the conflict or not letting the conflict occur between folks at work and at home was actually destructive. That’s a big, “Aha!” Rock the Boat.  Step into conflict.

So here are some of the things I’ve been working on in order to step into conflict:

1. Uncomfortable. I’ve been trying to embrace being uncomfortable. I’m the kind of person who goes around smoothing the waters. Human Resource folks do this all the time. Talk to Marketing, talk to Accounting, talk to Production and make it all right. Make sure everyone is happy. This is an illusion. It’s just pacifying everyone and no solution is ever figured out. In recent weeks I’ve tried to pick at the scab and to be uncomfortable. I need to rock the boat. I bring up the financial shortfall or the difference in opinion or talk about the lapse in communication. Step into being uncomfortable.

2. Discord. I’m trying to be accepting of discord. My idea or interpretation is not the only one that matters. I know that sounds obvious but we all have our own world view. I need to allow for a difference of opinion and let it go. It’s easy to get attached to a difference of opinion as if the other person doesn’t respect me or my ideas. Staying detached from the difference and not making up assumptions for the discord is critical. I realized this when I look at my parent’s marriage. My father is a devout conservative Republican and my mother is a bleeding heart Liberal. They will celebrate 60 years of marriage in 2015. That amounts to a lot of discord. From Carter to Bush, there was a lot of passionate debate but they were able to agree to disagree. Accept discord.

3. Ask. Be open to ask for help. As Tal Ben-Shahar espouses in his book, The Pursuit of Perfect, reaching out and being vulnerable enough to ask for help can strengthen your relationship with your team, your family and your boss. The perfectionist in all of us defaults to giving advice instead of asking for it ourselves. Think about it for a minute. When someone asks you for help, aren’t you honored? Doesn’t it strengthen your relationship? There is the fabled story that Ben Franklin asked to borrow a prized book from an arch rival. The arch rival lent it to him. From that point forward he was an ally. How can you keep an enemy of someone you lent a prized book to? It takes vulnerability to ask for help.

4. Empathy. Put on someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from. I’ve learned some very powerful tools from my training with CRR Global. One of them is about looking at someone else’s position from the perspective of them living in a different land. I did this recently with a group regarding the utilization of the company cafeteria. We divided the group into three “lands”, one group ate in the cafeteria on a regular basis, the other rarely or never ate in the cafeteria and the last group were the workers in the cafeteria. They each stood in their land and told us what is was like in the land. Then they each visited the other lands to find out what it was like to be from a different perspective. It was completely enlightening. To hear a coworker say that “it must be difficult to try and serve food when the employees are limited on time” or “I just want to escape from work so I go off premise”. Every point was valid and hearing it expressed built empathy for all the participants. Empathy is key.

5. Act. Do something. Sitting back and criticizing behind someone’s back is the coward’s way out. Take a deep breath, face your fears and take a step forward. If you don’t like the new policy, the bonus plan or the joke your co-worker just told; step up and speak up. This is definitely the hardest part for me. Based on several books and articles I have read this probably because women are more comfortable advocating for others than themselves. I’ve done this in baby steps. If I wait until I’m not emotionally charged and speak privately to the offender by saying something like, “You may not realize this but I was offended by what you said”, or “In my opinion this project looks tenuous based on the feedback I’m getting from our clients”; I am capable of acting to affect change Act and be heard.

Facing conflict instead of hiding from it is scary, messy and imperfect. It means that you can’t play it small. Rock the boat before it tips over! In the long run, your relationships and your team will be strengthened by it.