Releasing Work Pressure with Level 10 Meetings

By Ian Shafer

What if all the people in your company had a magical pressure gauge that could be seen by everyone else in real-time? The dial would give a reading of overall mental state, stress level, and the ability to perform one’s job, all wrapped into one metric.

Sales mismanaged the client expectations for a project? Pressure gauge goes up a tick.

Emotional interaction with another employee about an internal error? Pressure gauge jumps into the yellow.

Working long hours without overtime or recognition and someone grabs the last donut? Pressure gauge spikes to red.

Not only does everyone have different tolerances and capacities for pressure, everyone has different ideas of when or how they should communicate their pressure levels. Luckily, with EOS®, there are some built-in tools for team members to communicate about the pressures they are facing.

WARNING! DANGER! Reaching Pressure Capacity!

A few weeks ago, in an EOS Quarterly session, at the beginning of our IDS™ (Identify, Discuss, and Solve) section of the agenda, I knew sparks were about to fly. An issue was on the list, prioritized as number one, and it was clearly the elephant in the room.

The owner set the stage for the issue with a statement to another team member, “I’m worried that at any moment you’re going to leave us, and when I’m around you, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.”

The other leadership team member immediately burst into tears. They went on to express how they felt overwhelmed, overworked, and under-appreciated. Additionally, they didn’t feel comfortable sharing these feelings because they didn’t feel there was anything anyone could do about it. This team member also feared they would be viewed as a complainer because everyone else was working hard too.

A wonderfully healthy and long-overdue conversation ensued. It ended in hugs and both parties agreeing that they needed to be more open and honest with each other on a week-to-week basis. They both expressed how they can’t continue to allow things fester and build up.

Release the Pressure Early and Often with Weekly Level 10 Meetings

I’ve checked in on the above team and their weekly Level 10 Meetings™ have transformed. They have both taken intentional steps to be more open and honest with each other about how they are feeling. They are intentionally using the Leadership Level 10 Meeting to shine a light on the tough items as soon as they arise. Also, the rest of the leadership team is holding them accountable to share their true emotions.

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Since we don’t have a visual gauge for the pressure of the people we work with, we have to do our best to actively identify and engage in those difficult conversations.

Some people try to release pressure by venting to their spouses, some in a workout, or others at happy hour with other coworkers. While it may help temporarily, the root issue will never go away unless it’s addressed head-on.

Everyone wants to enjoy their work.

Everyone wants to enjoy who they work with.

Everyone wants to see the company be at its best

(or at least I hope all those are true).

It’s our job as leaders to create consistent opportunities for people to be open and honest with one another in a trusting and receptive setting. The Level 10 Meeting is the perfect place for that.

However, it is important to be aware that your team may still be hesitant to bring up hard topics. This hesitation can lead to pressure in the danger zone.

Feel free to read this blog with your team, ask them what their gauge would read, and try to create an open dialogue. This can help you get better as a leader and be more open and honest together as a team.

Next Steps

About the Author:

Ian has been actively using and implementing EOS tools over the last four years. His background working in the Fortune 200 world, technology start-up environments, and small business operations have given him a unique perspective into how different companies function. His value-driven approach, growth mindset, and hunger to get to the root of conflict, helps teams work through roadblocks to reach their desired milestones, quarter after quarter.

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