What causes a bit of angst for many bosses during Quarterly Conversations is an issue that comes up that may surprise them or that they may be ill-equipped to deal with. There are three types of issues that you must be prepared to address.
The first type of issue, and this comes up most frequently by the way, is an issue that can’t be solved. A good example is a company policy that’s been communicated to everyone in the organization, that no one seems to have an issue with except for your direct report. The best thing to do is to let them vent, acknowledge the issue, and then ask the all-important question – “Can you live with it?” You could say something like this, “I know it’s making you crazy, but it’s not going to change, so I ask you, can you live with it? That means you’re willing to let it go. You’re not going to continue to bring it up, and you’re not going to stir the pot with others. Because, if you can’t let it go and it’s not going to change, then maybe this company is not a great place for you to work.” Be frank. It’s only fair.
The second type of issue is one that you must solve. You’re the boss. You’re the only one with the authority to solve the issue. Sometimes, your direct report is looking for you to make the decision. So, make it. Don’t kick this issue down the road.
And finally, the third issue is one that they must solve. All too often, you’re eager to jump in and provide an answer or the next step. Don’t do that. You’ll never develop independent employees by doing their thinking for them or giving them the answer. Ask some questions and coach them through how they could solve the issue. Take a little tip from our friend, Ken Blanchard, in the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. Remember, that monkey is the next step. Let them solve their own issues.