What do you do if you have a headache? It's always fun to hear the different methods people use to treat a headache. Many ignore it or take an aspirin. Some turn down the lights or apply a compress to the back of their necks. The common theme is that most people treat the symptom and not the cause of the headache. This is similar to how most business owner's deal with employee frustrations. This week we challenge you to slow down when facing an employee issue. Don't give in to the temptation to treat the symptom right away, but walk around the issue with curiosity. In doing so you will come to see the real issue and be able to create a long lasting solution.
Going into the conversation with the mindset of being curious will in itself have a positive impact on your meeting, but here are a few tips to help you walk around the issue with curiosity.
- Don't make assumptions - If you go into the meeting thinking you know what is causing the problem and how to solve the issue, you miss the chance to learn about your business. You may be spot on, but chances are you have more to learn if you sit back and listen. We all make assumptions, the key is to identify your assumptions before the meeting and then ask open ended questions around the assumptions.
- Identify and discuss systems - If you have systems in place that are not being followed, you want to pull them out and with the employee identify where the system is breaking down. Is it truly an employee issue or could you have a system issue? If you don't have a documented system in place this is a great time to discuss and document the rough steps for the system. This way you know that you and the employee are on the same page.
- Focus on Impact - Ask questions to see if your employee understands the importance and why the issue needs to be resolved. If they are not connected with the result, it will be difficult to get to a long lasting solution. Focus on the impact the issue has on the business, on them, and the clients.
- Ask; Don't Always Tell - In order to reach a long term solution you need to change your employee's mindset about the issue. You can and should be clear about the result the business needs. However, if you simply tell the employee what needs to be different they do not have the chance to challenge the way they think about the issue. Make sure you take time to explore the issue with them by asking open ended questions. As you listen you will be able to discover the root of the problem and help them begin to look at the issue in a new light.