Careers: Resolving Issues in the Workplace

Have you ever felt tension in the office? Sometimes, it's so thick you can cut it with a knife. Team members may have difficulty expressing their feelings appropriately to others in the workplace if there is not a forum for doing so.

Joe Phelps, CEO of The Phelps Group and author of the new book "Pyramids are Tombs" has a method that has kept his company humming, his profits up and his turnover low. They don't believe in rules at The Phelps Group, they only hire adults so there is no need to tell people how to behave. Instead, Joe encourages his team members who have an issue with someone else in the company to approach that person and deal directly with them. If that doesn't work, they then bring in two other team members who know both of the people involved and try to work things out. If necessary, as a final step, someone outside the team can be brought in to facilitate a resolution.

This methodology is a great way to create harmony and respect in a work environment. I believe that if team members took a little time to think first, most issues would never be brought to the table in the first place. Below are ten questions leaders and team members need to ask themselves before taking it to the next level.

Issue Resolution Questions:

Ask yourself:
1. What am I after?
2. Am I part of the problem?
3. Am I trying to cast blame?
4. Is there old stuff that I am using to fuel this fire?
5. How did this all get started?
6. What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?
7. Am I in the right frame of mind to deal appropriately with this person/situation?
8. What will happen if I just let it be?
9. What will happen if I try to take control?
10. What is the best thing for all concerned (team members, company, client)?

After you or your team member has considered some of the questions above, you then need to take a moment and consider how to present it. The techniques below are specifically designed to facilitate business people in dealing with co-workers. Take the time to think before you act, and that means e-mail too. If you don't believe this is important, remember what an inappropriate e-mail did to Microsoft.

Resolution Preparation Techniques:
1. Sleep on it (especially if you're angry).
2. Make sure that if you share the issue you're not ragging on someone.
3. Before you share it, think about who you're talking to (and about).
4. Talk with a friend or spouse after hours to get a read on your feelings.
5. Write it out (pro's and con's).
6. Forget about it.
7. If we think a conversation is going to be painful, remember that you usually feel better after it's over.
8. Go to the person and deal with it - Now.
9. Remember, be kind. It's hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
10. Feel good about yourself and how you handled it.

Now it is the time to take action (and no action is still an action). So ask yourself the appropriate questions, think first and consider which of the techniques above will be most helpful to you and your team. If an issue is presented to you, there is only one appropriate initial response. Say, "Thank you for bringing this to my attention."

These questions and techniques are also very helpful when dealing with customer and client problems. Issues happen daily, it's how we receive and resolve them that separate the successful companies from the rest.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.
For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and nationally syndicated author. His columns appear in over 150 publications, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. Dr. Goldsmith works regularly with The Young President's Organization (YPO) and The Executive Committee (TEC). Considered an expert on small business, he has spoken worldwide to groups of 10 to 5,000, and is in high demand for Keynotes, Training and Consulting. He may be contacted through his web site or at (818) 879-9996.



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