Thursday 5 February 2015

The art of identifying the problem cycle in its budding people/team management. – Practice it.

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While working with people, one thing for certain is that there will be problems cropping up every now and then, sooner or later; be it a new team or a seasoned one. There may be ways and means to deal with a problem and find a resolution at different stages. The challenge however is to identify in its nascent stage and take measures to avoid unnecessary escalation. It is a general practice with people to compare with their peers to ascertain their position in terms of performance, pay, way they are treated and other such things. When they begin this comparison, it very quickly develops into a strong feeling of dissatisfaction; should they discover any discrepancy. This is the very beginning of a problem. Let’s first understand the reasons that trigger a problem. Few of them are:

·         People feeling that they are not treated fairly either in terms of performance, pay or general treatment as compared to other members of the teams.
·         A feeling that a particular person is being targeted for some reason among the team.
·         General reasons of problems may even be gossip from various sources.

People are different and they react differently. Whatever the reasons might be once the idea is formed, it doesn't stop there. At this stage the person is ready to get it to your notice and hope to get a resolution. Few signs of this phase are:

·         A person who is usually talkative will choose to be silent, or vice versa.
·         Coming across with a lot of investigative questions to gather information.
·         Mingling with a new group and picking up their influence a lot.
·         Reluctant or hesitant body language.
·         Sudden rise in the number of questions on a specific topic.

These instances may initially seem simple or unimportant. However, we need to understand that this is the best instance to resolve a problem. Proactive approach in identifying and addressing the issue without any further delay will help a lot and nip the problem at the beginning stage. A casual chat with the concerned person, acknowledging when something has gone wrong and assurance of your support should do the trick.

If it is delayed or ignored; it quickly compounds into a strong feeling of grievance. Needless to mention, that they will collect strong evidence to defend their case. The person concerned now starts to vent out the feeling and attempts to express it evidently. This may vary depending on the nature of the problem and the level of frustration. This is the next level where people attempt to show clear signs of dissatisfaction. Few pointers to identify such behavior are:

·         Back answering at any and every occasion.
·         Constant disagreements and non cooperation.
·         Drop in performance and disinterest.
·         Deliberate falling behind to meet assigned targets.
·         Open defiance and insubordination.
·         Grouping up to revolt and voice their thoughts.

We need to realize that they indulge in such behavior to seek an opportunity to have a one to one meeting with you, to vent out their dissatisfaction and frustration. It is important that we understand that our aim is to resolve the issue; taking the matter personally at this juncture will only convert the already existing problem into a mess.

The people involved need a lot of reassurance even before they are willing to open up to you. Having a constructive one to one discussion is a sure shot way to begin. Always do your homework before going into such discussions. Not to confront or monopolize the discussion, but to have options open. Listening, understanding and empathizing are the only best methods in getting the other person work towards an effective resolution. My earlier posts, “You...the most important aspect of any conversation” and “You and I...Together we make a great team” explain further, tips for such difficult conversations. This way you ensure that the problem cycle ends with a solution and not with a disaster.

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