A couple of years ago, I lectured to a group of business owners on employee engagement. A gentleman gave lavish praise for one employee in particular. In the same breath, he also lamented how difficult it would be to find a replacement to fill her shoes. The business owner had many reasons for his fondness: "She stayed late whenever asked to get projects done and with amazing accuracy." "She always volunteered to go the extra mile!" "She was super productive!" "She was the first to come to work and the last to leave." "And the best part, she was very popular in the office because she went out of her way to help her co-workers, too."
Welcome to the world of people pleasers.
They love pleasing others, so generally, they have high-performance reviews. Pleasers give and give and give, and when they're overloaded, they take on five more things. Yet, the disadvantage of a pleaser is that they build resentment. They put on a smile and take on one more feat until they feel unappreciated and undervalued. Then they react. Sometimes they will sabotage a co-worker by withholding needed information. Or talk trash to a client about the company. Other times, they can't hold their anger and explode on someone. Or they quit at an inopportune time.
The Unrealistic Expectations Created by People Pleasers
Why Pleasing Too Much Can Be Unhealthy
at at taking care of themselves. They take on more and more until they deplete themselves and are too exhausted or angry to continue the ruse. The more energetic and ambitious a person, the longer they can sustain this pattern. It is unhealthy for people to exhaust themselves by taking
on way more than their fair share. Building up indebtedness and keeping score, like pleasers often do, is unproductive and festers resentment.
The Harvard Review has this to say about people who may be a little too eager to volunteer or say yes haphazardly.
"If you’re an energetic, service-oriented person, your tendency is to always respond to any request by saying, 'Sure, I can do that.' Or when you’re sitting in a meeting and someone asks for volunteers to help, you always raise your hand. Or even when no one asks for help—but you know they need it—you offer to assist. In and of itself, a strong desire to take action isn’t bad. But if this attitude means that you’re completely overloaded with work and unfocused on your top priorities, you are failing to keep the commitments that truly should fall under your ownership."
Healthy self-care for each individual in a company makes a stronger team and company.
we give from an unsustainable place. Ignoring self-care robs us of our finest work and creativity. There will be lapses in judgment, increased mistakes, and we'll get grumpier along the way. How does this behavior serve anyone well, including the employer or company? It doesn't. Taking care of ourselves is paramount for doing our best work.
How to Identify People Pleasers
a third party don't usually get discovered. Why? Pleasers tend to talk to safe and nurturing people. When pleasers confide in sympathetic listeners, the conversation equates as a badge of trustworthiness for the confidante. Thus, the conversation is kept in a vault until the co-worker get overburdened and unloads. However, even then, it's likely that the unloading won't be directed to the right person who can make a positive difference.
So Should You Hire Pleasers?
spot a people pleaser so we can redirect our own or each other for better results on the job.
To move people pleasers to champions of an organization, we'll need to do three things faithfully.
Leadership Remedies for Employees, Especially Pleasers
Self-care doesn't come easily for pleasers. Pleasers often need encouragement, reassurance, and suggestions. (I get it, it's not your job, right?) Yes, I hear from leaders often that people should already know how to do their job without babysitting them. Personal drama is a time-waster. Understood. Our expectation
is for employees to come to work and do just that—work. After all, they're adults.
But it's also vital to accept what is staring us in the face. Employees are also people and those who exhaust themselves lay traps for others and cause trouble down
Sometimes adults come with a few bad habits. It's true that a leader need not get
in the middle of drama and it's important to set firm boundaries for inappropriate behavior. However, the leader's role IS to ensure the health of the team, the quality of the work, and the success of their company. With that in mind, a leader showing that they care as much for the employee as the success of the work IS part of your job description. Like it or not, you're growing people, not just profit.
Examples of how to support employees
An employee calls in sick after an intense production cycle or big initiative. [Take note. Make a point to discuss with him or her when convenient. Reinforce how important it is to take better care of themselves—not worse—in the midst of a heavy workload. Suggest setting more reasonable timelines.]
When your company makes its work environment safe for pleasers to be true to themselves, you've created a culture of honesty, accountability, and caring.