Management tools: 4-phase algorithm for solving problems with people or “What do you want if you are such a worthless manager?”

    At one of the long-standing trainings, we worked out the case “The employee does not send reports on time”. A case is absolutely not attached to real life - after all, the same does not happen so that people do not send reports on time, right?

    And one manager didn’t get a couple, and I got up to play the role of an employee. Before that, all the couples had enough, so I was not very ready for the role of an employee ...

    My interlocutor was a young man, let's call him Egor, technical director of a small company.

    The purpose of the case is to convey feedback to the employee that reports should be sent on time. Yegor started right off the bat:

    “Alexander, how so, why don't you send me reports?”

    I stood, thought, thought, what to say. And then he blurted out the first thing that came to mind:

    “Yegor, what do you want if you are such a shitty manager ?!”

    I confess, I was then not aware of the heavy manipulations. But their influence could be felt in full. Egor blushed, then went stained:

    - What does “horseradish manager” mean? !!! This is unacceptable - so talk with the leadership ...

    And then they started firing me. And this is pretty sad for the manager. Although on the other hand, it’s good that such a situation happened during the training, and not in real life.

    And today we’ll just talk about how to convey unpleasant feedback to people, as well as how to properly receive it. As usual, algorithms, circuits, examples are all that we love. :) And many books that we do not like, but with details.

    In the last article about management toolswe discussed 4 principles of constructive communication that do not answer the question: “How exactly to solve problems with people?” And the answer to this question is given by the 4-phase algorithm.

    I met this algorithm when I was already working at Intel. At that time, I took him as another corporate brainwashing. However, after I left the company, I rethought this algorithm. Together with SlavaPankratov we sat down, disassembled the algorithm into parts, supplemented it with plug-ins, and began to test it on gullible listeners.

    And suddenly it turned out that with the help of this algorithm the vast majority of working situations can be disassembled and solved.

    So, there are 4 phases in the algorithm. In this case, the discussion takes two phases: the second and third. And it all starts, of course, with preparation.


    I. Preparation.

    At the preparation stage, we define several things:

    1. What exactly is the problem?

    An example from life. At one of the trainings, the student gets up:

    - No, well, it's all clear. But the situation is from real life. I walk along the corridor and see how an employee of the neighboring department is looking at porn. What to do?

    - What's the problem?

    - Well ...

    What, in fact, is the problem in this situation? And is she there? Maybe a person is looking at porn, he’s motivated, and then he continues to code some very necessary thing for business. Logic suggests that it is possible, in this case, he needs to buy some unlimited access to the source of inspiration ...

    To understand whether it is necessary to solve the problem, there are two questions:
    • Does it affect the job?
    • If you do not decide, then what will be wrong?

    If the whole team cannot look at the face of the employee who is looking, well, you understand that something will have to be solved.

    2. Goal — what do we want to achieve by discussion?

    Periodically, managers come up with strange problems. “I have a problem: people are sitting on VKontakte. So I think, now we will close access to social networks to them ... ”

    If in this case we close access to social networks, it will turn out like in a joke:

    Scientists have learned a lot from the life of dogs by attaching a camera to a dog’s head. It turns out that up to 90% of its time the dog spends trying to tear the camera off his head.

    All engineers will begin to solve an interesting engineering problem, how to get around the stupid ban.

    In fact, the fact that people are sitting on VKontakte is no problem. Sit - and thank God. What is bad? The bad thing is that the work is not done. And that should be the purpose of the discussion - for the work to be done.

    3. Why does a person behave this way?

    As the saying goes, if it seems to you that you are talking with an idiot, perhaps it seems the same to him. There is always a reason for any human behavior. Even for behavior that seems inappropriate to you.

    An example from life. At one of the trainings, managers (participants in the training) actively complained about their director. A picture was drawn of the devil who crawled out of hell, specially to lead their company:

    - Imagine, he makes programmers late even for 3 minutes to write explanatory texts by hand! Do you know how to argue? “They get tired of writing and stop being late!” And he accepts all ideas only in the form of lecture notes! ..

    In the evening, we begin to find out from the managers over the beer, the director was always so “inadequate”, or was once a normal person. Managers think:

    “No, two years ago he and I went to an exhibition in Germany.” He was a normal dude, we hung out with him on strip bars ...

    - And at what point did he become “inadequate”?

    “Hm ... in

    short.” it turned out that a year and a half ago they thwarted a very important project. The company has fined heavily. The shareholders called the young director (26 years old at that time) and apparently explained to him that the next time it would be better not to bring it the next time. After which, the director began to restore order in the company. As he knows, it leads.

    When analyzing the point of view, it would be nice to think about this:
    • Has a person always behaved this way or did it start after some moment?
    • What is the positive intention in his actions?

    There are many different things in life that switch people's behavior:
    • Organizational Change: “Why Appoint It, Not Me?”
    • Incomprehensible technical solutions: “why do we need to introduce this crap?”
    • Geographical remoteness from another team: “it’s not just that they wrote to us, it’s them ...”
    • ...

    At the same time, people act, trying to do something positive (sometimes only for themselves, but nonetheless):
    • Director is trying to clean up the company
    • The employee sabotages the implementation of an idiotic, in his opinion, tool, thereby showing that he is idiotic
    • ...

    It’s good to try to clarify for yourself, because it is here that we decide where we will start the conversation:
    • With a discussion of the current misbehavior or:
    • From a discussion of why everything was fine before, but now it’s like this

    (There is still a number of tools for analyzing another person’s point of view. But in order not to delay the article, we will send readers to the free course “Management Tools: System Management on the Fingers . There we talk more about this.)

    4. Facts and arguments

    As we wrote in the previous article , people sometimes absolutely honestly do not see what the problem is. “Well, I do not send reports, and God be with them. But I have time to do more work! ”

    And at the stage of preparation for the conversation, it would be nice to think:
    • What facts and arguments will show that this situation is problematic for you?
    • What facts and arguments will show that this situation is problematic for the person to whom you came to discuss it?

    If you do not prepare the facts in advance, then in the conversation we automatically slide into pressure:
    • “Why should I explain to your level specialist elementary things ?!”
    • “As an engineer with your experience ..?”
    • “As a graduate of Baumanka ...?”
    • “You, most importantly, do it now, but there ...”
    • ...

    All this leads to the fact that according to the results of the conversation, people put us minus in karma. Only not on a habr, but in real life.

    So, let's say that the preparation stage is over, and we are ready for discussion.

    II. Discussion of the problem

    Starting a discussion of a person, we never know what is in his head. Despite the fact that we are all smart people, do not forget that we are all different people. And what a man thought up to himself, how he screwed himself up and what conclusions he came to - it cannot be said by the Leninist squint method. Therefore, in our conversation we will use the powerful communicative technique “Pause”.

    The general conversation scheme may be as follows:

    - I would like to discuss this situation ... It's not very cool, because [FACT # 1] + [PAUSE]

    - And what?

    - So ... [FACT # 2] + [PAUSE]

    - And what?

    “That's why I came ... [FACT # 2] + [PAUSE]

    Our task in this phase of the algorithm is to bring a person to a point of agreement on the problem. To say something like:

    - Yes, somehow all this is wrong ...

    Pause - allows a person to speak. You can replace it with clarifying questions:
    • What do you think about this?
    • What does it look like on your part?

    But anyway, it is important for us to bring a person to agreement on the problem. If the person agreed on the problem, then we can proceed to discuss the solution. If you do not agree, it’s too early to proceed to the decision.

    An example from life. Quite often, people come back from conferences with a fit of enthusiasm and a bunch of new ideas. And so the person resorts to the team:

    - And let's introduce $ NEW_MODE_TEMA (Kanban, Lean, TDD, FDD,)

    And people have a dumb question in their eyes: “WHY ??? After all, before that we worked somehow without $ NEW_MODE_TEMA? Releases were released, builds were build, everything was fine ... WHY ??? ”

    What's happening. From the point of view of the algorithm, it jumps immediately to the “Solution” phase, bypassing the discussion phase of the problem. And it automatically causes resistance.

    What to do when the facts are over? It happens that the facts and arguments end, but the person still does not agree. He doesn’t see such a bastard, a problem! What to do?

    An intuitive model of behavior is pressure (authority, company politicians, best practices, force, ..). Counterintuitive — exit the conversation.

    An example from life. A few years ago, my colleague SlavaPankratov and I turned up at the training of Bliss Brown, an American grandmother of 60 years and an amazing coach. Maybe someone perceives the word “coach” as negative, but here's what I tell you. Bliss Brown is one of the wisest people I have been fortunate enough to meet. During our three-day communication, I rethought something in life. Although I am no less a skeptic like you.

    So, during the training, my colleague had a disagreement for some reason:

    - Bliss, wait a minute, I do not agree!

    - Glory, let me explain in a different way (explains in another way).

    “Bliss, I still disagree!”

    - Come on (explains the third).

    - I still disagree!

    - ... Slav, I apparently now can’t find the right words. Give me time to think about how to better formulate this and let's discuss this topic with you in a coffee break?

    Further from the words of Glory:

    - At that moment I felt wildly embarrassed. Fir-tree sticks, I think the aunt of 40 years explains this to different people. Am I really so stupid that I can’t understand this? .. I only thought about this before the coffee-break and I got to what she had in mind. In the coffee break approach to Bliss Brown: “Bliss, do I understand correctly that you had in mind this?” - “Exactly.”

    The facts are over - get out of the conversation. Not with the words: “Why are you so stupid ?!”, but with the words: “I seem to be unable to convey the problem.” Think and come back to the conversation a little later, with new facts and arguments. Maybe the interlocutor will ripen.

    It may turn out that in response to your words a person will begin to voice his problems: “What do you want if you are such a worthless manager ?!”

    Indeed, with this phrase a person does not say anything other than the fact that he is obviously dissatisfied with some of your actions as a leader. Which ones? We do not know until we find out. But it’s good that he voiced it. Instead of firing him, the manager now has a unique chance to find out what people have accumulated in their head and take control of the situation. We ask clarifying questions, help a person solve a problem, and return to what they came up with.

    But suppose, using facts, arguments and pauses, you still led the person to what he said:

    - Yes, I agree, the situation is awkward ...

    III. Discussion of the solution.

    And so we move on to discuss the solution. Worth proposing a solution yourself? Absolutely yes, if you are discussing a problem with your boss or customer.

    Otherwise, it is better to ask a person: “How will we decide?” It is important that the person himself proposes a solution. For his decision, a person feels a greater responsibility.

    Here, however, it may turn out that a person will offer something that does not suit you. You can offer your solution in return. Or criticize what has just been proposed. But there is a way that works better.

    Testing the solution for stability. Suppose a person offers an architecture that is not extensible and not scalable, or some other. And you understand that in six months, when the load grows 5 times, your system will come kirdyk.

    You can say: “Wait, it cannot withstand the load”, but this can include the communicative formula of ZATO: “But it can be quickly implemented!”

    Therefore, it is better to ask one of the questions:
    • And how would we make it withstand the load 5 times more, as we plan in six months?
    • What will happen if our load grows 5 times, as we plan in six months?

    Statements include a person's desire to argue. And what does a person include the brain? Right, questions.

    Checking the solution for stability helps to finalize the decision, and at the same time this decision is still your interlocutor, and he still feels personal responsibility for him.

    After the solution is thought up, it would be nice to fix it. Otherwise it will turn out as in life:

    - Colleagues, there is such an idea: let's write unit tests!

    - Great idea!

    - Here! Well, then move on to the next question ...

    A week later, it turns out that no one wrote anything because the idea was discussed, and what specifically to do — everyone understood his own way.

    A good form for recording decisions: WWW = Who, What, When. There is less chance of understanding in your own way. And then we move on to the last step of the algorithm because, as former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner used to say: “People do not do what you expect. They do what you inspect. ” (“People do not do what you expect. They do what you check.”)

    IV. The control

    The control stage is quite simple in the description, but in real life surprisingly often falls out.

    If a person began to behave in the way you agreed with him - this is an occasion to tell him: “thank you, I see”. If this is not said, then a person might think that you did not notice: “Why then did the brain come to warm me? It seems that the topic is not so important for him ... In short. next time, you can not strain ... "

    If a person behaves in the old way or not in the way you agreed - this is an occasion to ask:" how so? " And it turns out that the person forgot / scored (in this case, it will probably be necessary to strengthen control), or it turns out that the solution for him does not work. And you have to go back to the previous stage and refine the solution.

    An example from life. At one of the trainings, project managers raised the following question:

    - You see, our customer in the middle of an iteration pushes new Wishlist ...

    What a surprise! No one has this! We begin to understand:

    - And what is it bad? You implement them, right? Well, thank God, as they say, satisfy the custom, and you will be happy ...

    - Well, we do not have time to do what we signed up for ...

    - Yes, this is a problem. Did you discuss it with the customer?

    - Yes.

    - What do you think?

    - We decided that he would save his Wishlist before the next iteration, and there we will discuss them.

    - Have you recorded the decision?

    - Of course.

    - And then what happens?

    - He again shoves Wishlist in the middle of the iteration ...

    - What are you doing?

    - And we are selling them ...

    So the algorithm does not work. The last phase of control is as important as the three previous ones.


    Disclaimer about common sense.
    Colleagues, I hope everyone understands that we do not cancel common sense? :) As we already wrote somehow, if, God forbid, there was a fire, do not use thoughtful techniques: “Colleagues, something is burning with us ... What do you think, which fire extinguisher should be put out: powder or carbon dioxide ?. Do not rush to answer ... Or will we use a hose? .. ”In case of urgent problems, directory methods work well.

    But to solve problems and build long-term relationships with people, this algorithm works well.

    It is clear that beyond the scope of our discussion there are still many things:
    • Как избегать неконструктивных моделей поведения, к которым мы все склонны
    • Как выбирать время для разговора и 5 ситуаций, когда люди не могут слушать
    • Коммуникативные приемы, которые вызывают негативные эмоции: как их избегать и как реагировать. когда применяют по отношению к вам
    • Особенности применения алгоритма в разговорах с заказчиками и руководством
    • Как подбирать работающие аргументы, которые покажут, что ситуация является проблемной для человека
    • Как понять, что человек имеет в виду, когда он ведет себя не конкретно
    • Как проверить, что человек действительно согласился с проблемой, а не сказал для виду: “да, все это как-о неправильно”
    • Как правильно эскалировать решение, когда стало ясно, что на вашем уровне оно не находится
    • ...

    We are now working on these details in our course, which we are going to finish by the end of February.

    But even without these details, if you just start trying on an algorithm for your working communications, believe me, the effect will exceed expectations. This has been checked repeatedly.

    Good luck in using it!

    PS Friends, if you want to immediately check how it works, then there is nothing easier:
    1. Remember your last difficult working conversation and try to decompose it according to this algorithm. At what stage did it fail and what would you do differently now?
    2. Try to prepare for the next difficult conversation and then conduct it using this algorithm. See how it goes.

    There will be something to share - write in the comments! Good luck

    PPS Stratoplan's blog moved to a separate site: - see you there!

    Alexander Orlov

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