The Problems and Possibilities of People

The Problems and Possibilities of People

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In my last post I talked about the problems of dealing with people as a manager and the fact that this is one of the most challenging aspects of management. This theme is so pervasive in this line of work that I want to get into it a little more. The possibilities of our people hold the key to finding solutions to problems.
I have a lot of days that start with people not getting along, people complaining, or people who don’t seem to be doing what is required of them. We all have this happen – we just show up to the office and we don’t even get our coats off, or our computer turned on, and somebody is already complaining or expecting you to drop everything to solve their problem.

What do you do?

Well, you could get mad and tell them to figure it out on their own. You could just react and go after the first person to cross your path and take it out on them. Or, you could stop, listen, and then ask for time to consider the problem.
As annoying as it can be to be bombarded with problems first thing in the morning, consider how your reaction will impact your relationship with the people you manage. If you allow yourself to lose your cool and scream and yell, you will lose all credibility with the people you manage. They will be less likely to come to you with problems, either good or bad, in the future.

Find the positive

When people come to you with their issues you should look at it in a positive light – at least they are letting you know what the problems are and seeking resolution. The alternative is that no one says anything and you can deal with it when it gets so completely out of hand that you need to take drastic measures.
When people come to you to complain they are letting you know where their stress points are, and often those same stress points are shared by others in the work group.

Listen

So, take the time to listen. No matter how frustrating it is, take a deep breath, calm your inner anger, and just listen. Next, ask them if you can have some time to consider the problem. Write yourself a note, jotting down a few brief thoughts to summarize what the problems is, and read it back to the person to ensure you understand the problem correctly.
If the problem is something that has to be dealt with immediately take care of it. Just remind yourself that as frustrating and inconvenient as the problem is, at least you can get it out-of-the-way and get on to other things.
If the problem can wait, or requires you to do some research and gather information, give the person a time and date you will follow-up with them and put it on your calendar so you don’t forget.
By taking the time to deal with issues right away, and give people your full attention in a calm and reasonable manner, you gain trust and respect. You also display self-control that is expected in a manager that will make people believe in your leadership skills. Nobody will follow a leader that does not display self-control.

Opportunity

Look at the problems your people present to you as opportunities to build stronger teams. Be grateful that they trust and respect you enough to look to you for solutions to their problems. Being a problem solver is part of what we do. We don’t always get to choose the timing or the circumstances for these opportunities, but we do get to decide how we will react, deal with, and ultimately what we get out of these opportunities. Remember that you make a real impact and difference in the lives of others and that impact can be either negative or positive. Choose to make all your interactions positive.

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