As I mentioned in the Part I of this article (posted May 22, 2012), it takes skill to figure out who owns the problem when there is one in a relationship. Failure to accurately determine whom the problem belongs to means that valuable time gets spent trying to solve it, usually without success. Remember that the core question is “Who has the unmet need here?”
Whenever a team member is doing something that prevents you from getting some need of yours satisfied, their behavior is causing you a problem. It is you who owns the problem.
However, should it be a team member or other person who is experiencing some type of need deprivation, think of that situation as one in which the team member has the problem. The other person owns the problem.
Key to the Whose Problem Is It Quiz:
Was it the leader (you) or the other person’s problem? Here are the answers:
- A team member fails to meet a deadline that impacts your own deadline. You own it.
- Another department head tells you she’s worried that she’s going to lose her job. Other person owns it.
- An employee leaves your office after a heated exchange and slams the door. Other person owns it.
- Your child fails to come home in time to leave for a dental appointment which you must pay for anyway. You own it.
- A manager in another division hasn’t included you in meetings that affect your job. You own it.
- One of your team members comes in looking teary. Other person owns it.
- Your spouse tells you s/he’s worried about an upcoming performance review. Other person owns it.
- A team member tells you s/he’s having a problem at home. Other person owns it.
When you have correctly determined who owns the problem, the next step is to know which interpersonal skill to use to solve it. Learning the interpersonal skills that it takes to resolve relationship problems so that productive work can continue is a core part of GTI’s leadership training.