Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

How do you help employees through problems?

The Situation: You have four workers whose performance seems to have slipped. They appear more moody and listless than usual. You think they may be troubled by something at work or home. If each were of a different personal style, how would you best approach the subject?

Indirect and Open

Allow plenty of time to explore Relaters' feelings and understand the emotional side of the question. Draw them out through gentle questions and attentive listening. Create a non-threatening environment. "You and I have known each other for a long time. We have been through plenty of difficulties together. I hope you know that, quite apart from our roles as superior and subordinate, I care about you and I am here for you if there is something you want to share. If there is a problem, you know I'll work with you on it, regardless of what it is."
Direct and Open

Allow plenty of time. Socializers will probably not want to approach the problem head-on. "You're usually such a happy, on-top-of-the-world kind of person. Your great attitude is one of your real strengths. However, lately, you have not seemed quite yourself to me. I just want you to know that you can confide in me. Anytime. The two of us always have had a good rapport. And listening to others is a big part, I guess, of what I'm here for." When the Socializer finally does get around to the dilemma, it may be understated and oblique. You will need to listen carefully for facts and feelings and pose follow-up questions to get at the heart of the matter. Many times Socializers merely need to get something off their chests. So just talking to a caring ear may solve the problem.
Indirect and Guarded

Tell Thinkers you have wondered if something is troubling them, and ask questions to help them give you the right information. Let them show you how much they know. You might outline a procedure to deal with it. "We could meet to review things, just you and I, for, say, an hour or two each week. If that does not work for you, I could set up a meeting for you with Employee Assistance, or if you would like, an outside counselor. My point is you do not have to grapple with this by yourself. There are a number of different options, if you would like to explore them. None of them is set in stone; they are all at your discretion. You can bail out if they're not working for you, and then we'll figure out a different approach."
Direct and Guarded

Stick to the facts for Directors. Draw them out by talking about the desired results rather than analyzing the problem to death. Then discuss their concerns, but focus on tasks more than feelings. Ask them how they would solve the problem. "You tell me. What's do you think is the best way to tackle this? I know you want to maximize your performance. You are that kind of person; you are a doer, not just a talker. We both want you to whip this thing. So how do you suggest we go about it?"

Here's to more personal insight,


image_1Most of us long to have conflict-free relationships in our working environment and in our personal lives.

But, unless we are transported to some future world where all of our minds and emotions work in perfect unison, freedom from conflict will never happen.

People naturally disagree about what to do and how and when to do it. However, when differences of opinion are accompanied by too much emotional commitment to one point versus another, the resulting conflict can be damaging. When we become emotionally locked into one idea and believe that it is the only one that can meet our needs and objectives, we enter into conflict with only two options: fight or flight.

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