I once had a team member (we’ll call her June) who never seemed fazed by any crisis. She seemed to lack a sense of urgency, no matter the situation. She was very thorough and hard-working, but her pace and attitude rarely fluctuated.
So even though we’re talking about the opposite—people who consider everything an emergency—I’ll start by saying that I would always rather have someone who overreacts than underreacts. They are often your most productive and attentive employees. That’s not to say the Team Member Who Cried Wolf should be left to their own devices. Quite the opposite. Here are my strategies.
Problems might have different symptoms, but they often have the same antidotes.
When this person approaches you with something they consider urgent, don’t make the mistake of rolling your eyes or showing disbelief. Are they really stirring up drama for the sake of drama? Probably not. This dedicated employee is likely passionate about his or her role in the company. This person might have come from an organization that praised urgent behavior, mislabeling it as heroism or passion.
Treat this person with the same empathy and understanding as an unproductive employee who struggles to meet deadlines. Problems might have different symptoms, but they often have the same antidotes.
2 .Separate the critical.
Don’t be tempted to scratch the itch of busyness. Urgent people tend to bounce around, accomplishing 20 small tasks on 20 different projects but don’t make significant progress in any one area.
Help this person understand that busyness doesn’t equal productivity. Pair them with an employee who is able to step back and see the bigger picture. Offer some focus tips, such as closing email and communication apps for set periods of time. This will help them resist the urge to respond immediately to every notification that pops up.
3. Be the calm.
I like to say that a leader should be a human Alka-Seltzer. When you’re in charge of a team of any size, you’re bound to manage all types of personalities. That’s the beauty of teamwork. Each person brings their own unique set of strengths that, when paired with complementary strength sets, have the power to achieve amazing things within an organization.
Your job as a leader is to be a calming force, one who stands strong and steady when the winds of various emotions attempt to rock the boat. When there is a legitimate crisis, your calming force needs to be at its strongest. Panicked people can quickly trample or be trampled by others; don’t amplify that by allowing chaos to ensue. Leadership is not a position; it’s a disposition.