Three Steps To Working Well With Problem People

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This 3-step technique helps wellness leaders and managers hold team members accountable.

There’s the web developer who always seems to miss key requirements, the marketing manager who misses key deadlines. Here’s a strategy for assertively and constructively holding these folks accountable.

Step 1: Identify the problem behavior.

Zero in on the facts:

“When you’re late making the website changes we’ve agreed on…”

“When you talk loudly with other people outside my office…”

Avoid: offering your opinions and judgments about their behavior. You’ll just put them on the defensive.

For example, you don’t need to point out that you think it’s unprofessional to throw papers down on a desk when they’re frustrated after a meeting with their boss.

Step 2: Describe the impact on your work.

Focus on how their behavior affects your work performance:

“…we’re not able to roll out the customer promotions on schedule, which means that the company takes a financial hit…”

“…it distracts me from my work and then I have a hard time getting going again…”

Avoid: talking about how you feel about their behavior.

For example, you don’t need to tell them that “you hate it when you act like that” or that “you’re acting like a baby”. They’ll probably get angry or even more upset — which won’t help you reach a solution.

Step 3: Ask solution-oriented questions.

Take a collaborative approach:

“What could you or I do that would help us avoid this problem?”

“How do you think we could avoid this in the future?”

Avoid: trying to solve the problem unilaterally, without their input. You may not have a full picture of the situation.

For example, maybe the reason your co-worker is having conversations outside your door is that she doesn’t have her own office. On the other hand, she may simply not realize that she’s distracting you. Each situation calls for a different solution.

And finally:

Don’t waste time speculating about why they act this way. Describe the behavior, the impact on your work, and focus on solutions. Leave motivations out of the discussion.