5 Steps to Solve People Problems

People problems spread when they’re ignored.

People problems spread when they're ignored. Image of lightning.

5 steps to solve people problems:

#1. Solve the right problem.

You think you understand the issue, but if you’re wrong, you end up creating more people problems. The thing that frustrates you may be a symptom, not the real issue.

Focus on the real issue, not symptoms. Define the perceived problem from many perspectives. Include outsiders. Consider the perspective of the person who is the problem.

#2. Enter conflict with curiosity.

Resistance rises when you bring an answer to defend instead of a question to explore.

Those anxious to change others don’t have time for curiosity. You’re anxious to change others and reluctant to change yourself. Begin with yourself.

How are your actions or lack of actions at the root of this concern?

#3. Consider best possible outcomes.

Know what success looks like before you set sail. Your definition of success might change but set direction first.

When addressing people problems consider everyone’s best interest, not just your own.

Too many leaders haven’t defined success in behavioral terms.

  1. If we succeed, what will people be doing? Not doing?
  2. If we don’t succeed, what will people be doing? Not doing?

Answer the above questions with yourself in mind first.

#4. Create more than one solution.

Binary situations have winners and losers. How can everyone win?

The first solution seems right until another solution is added. Every people problem has more than one solution.

Distill every solution into observable behaviors and make commitments.

  1. What will we do differently?
  2. What will we stop doing?
  3. What will we start doing?

#5. Set a follow-up meeting.

People problems hang on. You think you’ve solved them, but maybe you only capped a volcano.

Deal quickly and firmly when someone violates their commitment. That includes you. You always go first when it comes to accountability. Set the bar high for others. Set it higher for yourself.