It’s easier to judge from a distance, than to get into someone’s shoes

A corporate finger pointing conversation…

A – Oh, he is not good, don’t you see all these issues we are facing, we need someone who can eliminate these issues, I don’t think he is up to the task, there’s hell lot of issues…

B – But as I understood, some of these issues has no direct connection with him, he is at the receiving end of it and he is trying his best to tackle those issues…

A – Well maybe he is tackling the issues, but they keep popping up, I think its him who is the issue.

B – Isn’t the issues related to external environment, which no one has control over? do you have any different information?

A- Aah, I heard that as well, but he should do a better job, that’s what he is paid for, I just don’t want to see those issues.

B- Have you had a chat with him? Have you tried to understand the issue from his perspective? Have you given him any feedback?

A – Oh no, I have told his boss how terrible all this is, and my view his performance, he should give him feedback, not me….

B – But if you don’t talk to him, how do you understand what kind of issues he is going through? If you don’t give him feedback how do you expect him to change things? If you don’t give him an opportunity to explain how do you know what he is doing about those issues?

If you follow the above approach of judging people from distance, then you have a PhD in frustrating the hell out of them. This doesn’t mean you let your low performers off the hook, absolutely not, but when tried with good performers, this approach kills the performer in them, rather than killing the issue itself.

When faced with issues or crisis its easy to get frustrated, get into panic mode, and start pointing fingers. Even senior managers are not free of this irritating tendency, because it’s the first reaction that comes to mind. But when you start working with people hand in hand, trying to understand the issue, trying to understand what they are doing about it directly from them, then you get a better understanding of the situation and the area for improvement. Once you have a good understanding of the situation you are better placed to make a judgement of people, and you are better equipped to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Issues are normal in a business, it shows that the business is changing, if you prefer a business where you don’t face any issues then you better choose a dead one, because when you are moving ahead, when you are taking risks, when you are doing your best to win in the market, then you are prone to face issues, otherwise you are standing where you are. Issues can be internal or external, sometimes issues are manmade, out of mistakes, but it could also be because of the reasons mentioned above, maybe people are adjusting to the change, they are trying to catch up, or they are overloaded. If none of this are true then you have done a bad job at recruiting, upskilling and coaching people.

How you approach issues will define how people react the next time they are faced with such issues. You can be judgmental, come to conclusions without understanding the issue from their perspective, point fingers, and be harsh towards mistakes.., but then you won’t get to hear about the next issue until it has snowballed and is closer to unleash hell. But if you approach it from a different angle and try to understand the issue from others perspective, guide them, encourage them to avoid the same mistakes again, give them confidence to sail through the issue, and give them courage to admit without fear of punishment, then , only then you get to see better results.

So the next time you find yourself having the above conversation, try to pause, and think… Have you tried to understand the person and the issue, are you being reasonable in your judgement, is there anything you can do to improve that person’s situation? This way you might just save the company from losing a valuable resource, and save yourself from having a bigger issue later on.