When problems arise, remember:
- Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Processes, & Situations,
- Processes can topple People - this applies to both technical Processes and interpersonal-communication Processes, &
- Situations can topple People - especially 'new' Situations and stressful Situations.
In fact, more often than not flawed Processes and uncomfortable Situations do impair People's abilities to perform in productive ways.
The most expeditious and productive way to address problems is to first consider the Processes in play and the nature of the Situation surrounding the problem.
Do not assume you understand the Processes...even if you believe you have clear work-process and you have communicated it over and over. With the current high level of workplace stress and the fact People are struggling here, there, and everywhere with 'multi-tasking', People do not receive your messages as well as you think they do and People do not remember your messages as well as you wish they would. When it comes to Processes - never assume.
If you are 100% certain the Processes are bang-on and perfectly-communicated...doubt your understanding and doubt your memory...investigate the Processes.
Doubt the Processes before you doubt the People.
Do not underestimate the power the Situation will have over the People's behaviour. Every Situation will have its nuances: different People, different Processes, different urgencies, different distractions, different constraints, different atmosphere, etc., etc., etc. Often, actually very often, when problems arise People's good intentions are overruled by the Situation.
If you are 100% certain People are to blame...doubt your conclusion. And, adjust your thinking to incorporate the reality that:
- good People do bad things when the Situation guides them 'to the dark side' [consider the Stanford prison experiment]
- well-intentioned People fail to fulfil their good intentions when Situations guide/bring them 'to the failing side' [consider your own experiences, when circumstances beyond your control stopped you from delivering on a commitment]
- People get caught up in Situations and sometimes common sense takes a back seat [consider the Vancouver '2011 Stanley Cup riot']
Discredit the Situation before you discredit the People.
Before you blame People for the problems make sure you have given sufficient thought to the high likelihood either Processes or the Situation are close to the root of the problem.
Linkage to another Spirited Leaders' philosophy - P=2S+O -
Spirited Leaders believe - for every Problem you must find at least 2 Solution options and keep your eyes open for Opportunities. And the best way to begin considering 2 Solution options: (1) look at the Processes and see if they contain the seeds for a good Solution and (2) look at the Situation and see if it contains the seeds for a good Solution. Do both these things before considering whether or not People are the source of the problem. This is not only the route to P=2S+O. It is the route to better Decisions. It is the route to improved attitudes at work. It is the route to creating positive change. It is the route to building relationships and building trust.