Fix-Em, Don’t Fire-Em

Ever hear (or say) something like “Diane is THE PROBLEM. Everything will be solved if we just get rid of her.”

How often does this type of response show up when things aren’t working at work?

Look, maybe Diane is THE PROBLEM and she must go. However, then again, maybe there’s a deeper issue lurking under the radar.

Our natural tendency is to point the finger at her, him or them and step back from looking at the whole enchilada.

Here’s the question: what can be done to help a problem person who is infecting the entire team?

Let’s say you, as the team leader have faced your own demons and did a deep dive into your own behaviors that annoy or frustrate others and you’ve made some positive changes. Yet, there’s Diane being a jerk …. again.

It’s one thing to “own you own stuff’ or talk with one or two colleagues; it’s another order of magnitude to help change the dynamics that exist within the entire team.

Can Diane be saved or does she have to go?

Taking on the role of change agent is not for the faint hearted. It means putting on your risk-taking hat and taking a ton of deep breaths.

First, you know from looking inside yourself that there’s always a back story to what’s going on in present time. You know that about you and that goes for Diane too.

Where to start?

Have everyone on your team take the Pattern Aware Quiz to get a good look at what needs to change. No one’s immune to patterns. They impact communication and can cause conflict at the drop of a pin.

Avoiders run from confrontation. Deniers pretend it doesn’t exist. Drama queens (like Diane) make lots of noise and work gets put on hold. Splitters talk about everyone behind their backs.

In having the whole team take the quiz you are changing course from the obvious tendency to finger point at “the villain” and stop the “without her life would be beautiful” mantra.

Now everyone’s part of the problem and part of the solution.

Super achievers learn to listen to others. Rebels stop adding gasoline to the fire. Pleasers begin to tell the truth rather than just smile and say very little.

Remember, I didn’t say that Doris can stay. I’m just suggesting you give the “fix ‘Em don’t fire ‘Em” method a shot before you pull the plug.

You see, often there’s a blame game that goes on in a team once someone like Diane, is voted off the island, and someone simply takes her place.

If the issue is in the team culture, well, you can fire Diane and then there will be Jim and then Nancy and then Tom who are shown the door.

Before you fire only to hire only to fire only to hire, (see the pattern?) begin by taking an audit of the team and how it operates. Then set a time aside to have some honest discussions. No, not about each other.

You need to get out of the weeds and take your team to high level thinking. Take a step back and begin by creating the type of team interactions you want to see. Let people talk about how they want to cooperate and how it feels to be in a cohesive group who can support each other.

Give this type of team meeting a shot. Let the whole group begin to vision what working together really looks like and make agreements to some positive changes. Stuff like: no talking about the other person, go directly to the person and discuss issues.

And hey, if it really is Diane and it’s her time to leave, go for it. At least you will have a more impactful team to work with in the future.