What conversations are your people having in their head?
‘If they ask me to do it, I’m going to quit. We agreed I wouldn’t have to. When they say it’s a requirement, I’ll tell them they’ll have my resignation within the hour. I’m sick of this.’
Have you ever had a conversation with yourself that sounds like that? If you have, I bet it happened when you were on your own—in the shower, trying to get to sleep, stuck on a long commute…
Now ask yourself: how often did the bad thing actually come to pass? When you finally had that awkward encounter, was it actually at all awkward? Or was the person on the other end a human being whose take on the situation was markedly different from the one you imagined?
You shrug it off, accepting that the outcome was acceptable, but not happy to entirely shelve the suspicion that there’s malice out there somewhere, just waiting to rear its head. It’s a useful exercise in self-preservation, after all.
Now consider what that means for the people you are responsible for. On any given day, some of them will be rehearsing conversations where you are the villain. It might not show on their face, and they may be as productive as ever, but a little voice of dissent will be whispering in their ear, reminding them about that small thing you did—or didn’t—do that was a precursor to your eventual, unavoidable treachery.
In the absence of information, speculation rules. If you feel that there’s not much to share with your team, do not make the mistake of defaulting to silence. Keep people in the loop, even if nothing has changed. Because you may know that nothing is happening, but they don’t.