The 3 steps team problem solving approach

We’ve all been there. I’m sure at some point in the last year you’ve dealt with a crappy boss, impossible coworker or a part of your job that is unnecessarily stressful.

I’ve been lucky in my career to experience a wide variety of team dynamics: first at very large enterprises as a management consultant, then at a mid-size startup and now leading the fast-growing Hive team.

I’ve noticed that there’s a very simple formula that guides 90% of my thoughts when a friend or colleague seeks advice on a person-to-person challenge in their workplace.

Step 1: Now

As the old saying goes:

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.

Same goes for these challenges. I’ve never heard a compelling reason to take action later than the following day.

Step 2: EPR

Humans are funny creatures. A good way to structure your thinking about someone else’s behavior is to look at it from 3 angles, an approach borrowed from the playbook of major organization change used by major management consultants:

Emotional: How does this person feel? What part is their personal happiness / hopes / stresses playing in this situation?

Political: How does this situation affect the person’s navigation of their career, their power, their credibility with their colleagues?

Rational: Is there a practical, logical reason for the issue? Is the situation caused by a perfectly reasonable behavior?

Step 3: Communicate

This is the hardest part, but also the most important. Frequently, we create an imaginary barrier that stops us from simply articulating exactly how we feel. 9 times out of 10, the best thing is to ask them what they’re doing for lunch, grab a sandwich together, and have a good old-fashioned yap.

Have a think about a work frustration, run it through these three, and see how it goes!

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