Jason was tired of constantly hearing complaints and issues about other people on the team. While he was glad his team felt open to bring things up to him, he just needed them to work things out on their own. Frustrated and at his wits end, I got the call from Jason.
After about 15 or 20 minutes of describing the situation. Jason said he already felt better and realized he was taking it all in and just holding onto it, subconsciously feeling there wasn’t anything he could do. Jason informally rated the team’s trust level as pretty good, and admitted he had paved the way for them to his office door! Somewhere he’d gotten the idea that a good manager took care of all the problems. After talking about how empowering it is to a team to be able to tackle issues directly with each other, and of course the time it would save him, Jason agreed he needed to set the stage for this.
A staff meeting was scheduled the following Monday and Jason decided that that was the best time to let the team know he’d been doing them a disservice. As he watched the team physically open up to what he had to say, he shared that his behavior had actually enabled people to bring all the issues to him, when everyone would feel better to be able to handle most issues together. He admitted that it would be uncomfortable at first, more so for some than others, and that they’d all need to have some patience with it. He went on to explain that if they all trusted each other and had a good intent, which he felt they did, than they could get past the discomfort and help each other deal directly with their issues. Open communication would be the key. And if anyone was struggling with how to have a conversation, Jason invited them to come see him for help with how to deliver the message.
Jason agreed to check in with me 2 weeks after the meeting. I tasked myself to contact him if I didn’t hear from him, but that wasn’t necessary. Jason contacted me about 10 days after the meeting and said the transformation that had occurred was amazing. He only had a couple of issues come to him and he reminded each person of the conversation they had at the meeting, and agreements they made, and in both cases he coached the person and built their confidence to engage directly in the dialogue. Jason and I talked about ideas to keep on track with this, including having debriefs at staff meeting about it, and thanking people for handling the issues.