Business_Excelerated_Horizontal_Logo_Tagline__RGB_Full Color_1@4x

The Dangerous Truth about People-pleasers at Work

Hello there! Getting right to the punch today.

People-pleasing will cause major dysfunctions in an organization. At the very least it will cause exhaustion and drain the overall joy from the people-pleaser.

Maybe you’re in leadership and you’re the people-pleaser. Today we are going to talk about the team, though.

Have a member on your team that’s a people-pleaser? Does it get in the way of their success or role? Being a people-pleaser labels a team member as someone who is really nice, but it also get’s them into trouble.

When one of your team members is a people-pleaser (afraid of someone being angry or disappointed in them), the dysfunction is sneaky and builds over time.

These people-pleaser Elephants are often mislabeled and named things like “too nice,” “just kinda quiet,” “simply introverted,” “a real team player.” When in actuality if an employee is a people-pleaser this is the sneaky stuff that’s really going on…

Within the organization:

  • other team members may take advantage of them (consciously or not)
  • other team members default to them (making that employee over worked, or more significant than you realize)
  • other team members dominate conversations so that employee feels undervalued, or you lose out on their really good ideas (that go unheard)

If that employee is client facing:

  • clients could be set up for disappointment if that employee promises what cannot be delivered (because they didn’t want to say ‘no’)
  • clients could be set up to feel anger or distrust toward the organization for the same reason above

For their self:

  • that employee sets themselves up for failure by saying yes to things they should say no to (and failure is something they are trying desperately to avoid because that disappoints others)
  • that employee overcommits or over-promises, and that turns into overwhelm, exhaustion, burn-out, or underperformance (underdelivering)
  • that employee may become passive-aggressive because they don’t actually want to do what they just agreed to do (or offered to do) but their desperate need to please others made them jump on it and their reaction is to be passive-aggressive (being direct is scary)
  • that employee may become resentful because they are constantly feeling bulldozed, exhausted, and disempowered every day

Phew! I need to take a breath. That was a lot.

Despite all that, most of the time people-pleasers are tolerated in organizations! Yikes!

For their own reasons, leaders tend to decide that helping the employee better establish boundaries seems far more burdensome than asking that person to work through their own discomfort. It feels like calling them out, rather than looking at it as helping the employee develop the skills to become more effective in their work.

Instead of that, what you could do with this new perspective is choose to really see that employee and help them out (for their own sake and the sake of the organization’s health).

  1. Support them in learning how to have the hard conversations (setting boundaries)
  2. Protect them from overcommitting themselves (permission them to say no)
  3. Keep them from overpromising and disappointing clients (establish guidelines)
  4. Determine how they want their voice to be heard (in private or public, but seek it out)

Q: Are you the people-pleaser? Do you know one at your place of work? Do any of the above repercussions feel familiar?


Share This Post

Subscribe To Our Newsletter