Dealing With People Problems At Work

Overcoming Problems

Giving instructions and bossing people around is easy when people do as you say. The problems come when we realise that we are dealing with people and not robots.

Managers are paid to manage and motivate real human beings and this is bound to involve people problems from time to time.

In this article we tackle three of the most common people problems managers face.

People Not Doing What You Ask Them

When working with managers on our courses some tell us, ‘I’ve told them ten times already and still they get it wrong!’

There are a few reasons why this may be happening. The first may be the way you explained it. If they didn’t really understand the first time, just repeating it is not necessarily going to help! There is an expression in communication which says something like, ‘The only way you know that the communication has been received (correctly) is by the response you get.’ In this situation the response you received was incorrect action and this means that YOU did not communicate it in a way that could be fully understood. It is the responsibility of the senderof the message to ensure that it has been received and understood. So if one way doesn’t work try another.

Another reason may be that you are only using one way of managing i.e. telling people what to do, often referred to as directive leadership where the communication is only going one way. If people are used to being told what to do rather than think for themselves, they will rely upon you always telling them. The secret is to get them to take responsibility for the task and think about what they are doing. You can achieve this by having a two way conversation and discussing it with them. Ask them what they need to do to complete the task and how they are going to go about it. This way we can check for real understanding. If you just ask, ‘Do you understand?’ most employees will say ‘yes’ even if they mean ‘no’! Instead ask an open question like, ‘What are you going to do first?’ or ‘Tell me how you are going to tackle this task’. This way you can check for real understanding.

Under Performance

As you can imagine this is a huge topic and whilst we cannot cover everything in this article we can look at the basic process of managing performance. The key steps are; set clear objectives and make sure they are understood (see previous point), discuss and agree how progress will be checked and reviewed (informal and formal), provide regular feedback which is balanced between positive and constructive correction delivered in a supportive rather than a critical way, provide training and coaching as required culminating in a formal documented record at the end of the year (or agreed period) which should have no surprises for the employee. Following this structured process should help you and the employee move forward and improve together.

Conflict With Other Colleagues

Many conflict situations are caused by differences in people’s personalities, they way that they work and communicate. For example someone who is quite driven and task orientated may get frustrated by people who are quiet and more concerned about people.

Often these conflict situations start off with something very minor or petty e.g. someone talking too much in the office making it hard for another to concentrate. You need to be keep an eye on these situations. It is worth dealing with the conflict early on so that it doesn’t develop into something much bigger. Discuss the situation with both parties separately asking them to look at it from both points of view. Bringing them together to find a way forward will help bring the situation to a head in a much calmer environment rather than in front of colleagues or even worse customers.

We hope these few tips have given you an insight into how you can handle certain people problems at work. If you would like further help managing people contact us to find the best way that we can help.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Updated on: 11 March, 2013

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