Issues are bound to crop up in the day-to-day running of a company. Rather than try and prevent them, instead focus on an effective issue-resolution system.
There are three types of issues:
- Tactical (i.e., something is about to go wrong)
- Performance-related (i.e., something went wrong)
- Interpersonal (i.e., people not trusting each other)
Interpersonal issues are usually the most complex to deal with. People with interpersonal issues talk past and ultimately lose trust with one another.
Fortunately, we have developed good systems for resolving these different types of conflicts. Remember, the key to all conflict resolution is tackling it early; don't let things fester. And the key to tackling it early is regular, scheduled, bi-directional feedback.
Tactical issues are usually decisions hiding as issues. Team members will often want to bring up an issue and discuss it verbally. This is both inefficient (talking takes longer than reading) and ineffective (only the most forward people speak up and get heard).
Instead, require that anyone who presents an issue at a team meeting do so in writing. This should be in the Issues and Proposed Solutions section in the relevant meeting's Asana project.
The write-up should include both a detailed description of the Issue as well as their Proposed Solution. They may say “I don’t know the answer,” but they should take a guess. This may seem aggressive, but it creates a flag in the sand, which generates a much more productive discussion and a quicker decision time, which ultimately is more important than appearing to be humble.
Performance issues happen when mistakes are made (e.g., an email newsletter sent to the wrong people). They are best addressed either immediately (in a private setting) or shortly after (in a one-on-one).
Usually these are quickly resolved. Once you've given the feedback regarding the mishap, we suggest asking for a “habit” to ensure that it doesn't happen again. For example, you could create a checklist to run through before, say, releasing a blog post.
Larger issues require a post-mortem to learn from them and prevent them from recurring in the future.
Interpersonal issues are generally caused by a lack of trust between two people—trust that someone understands what you're saying, trust that they will do a good job, or trust in their motives (are they acting in the best interests of the company).
Usually interpersonal issues happen because people don't feel heard by each other. There is a simple solution to this: repetition. Get both parties to say "what I heard was... is that right?" and summarize what the other said. It sounds too simple to work, but it does.
Deeper interpersonal issues require Clearing conversations. Don't let these conversations linger—they will just fester until resolution is impossible.