By David Bowman

It’s often true, that an Issue placed on the Issues List is a symptom of something much larger or complex than originally understood.  It’s truly a skill that takes time to hone for a team to get really good at the “Identify” component of IDSTM (Identify-Discuss-Solve).

Using the Issues List to Address Problems

In a recent Quarterly PulsingTM session, a member of the leadership team had placed a team member that she LMAs on the Issues List.  She immediately prioritized the person as a Key Issue that she needed my help in solving.  When asked to “tee it up,” she began with a long story about how she needed help in crafting a conversation. In this conversation, she would be formalizing a promotion that occurred over a year ago and would be offering an increase in pay as a part of the discussion.

The other leadership team members, who obviously knew the employee well, started to list the land minds that would have to be navigated. However, this succeeded to only get us further from the root cause of the issue.  I ignorantly asked why this would be such a difficult conversation as it seemed like a pretty positive situation.  The leader started to “unpack” more symptoms by continuing to tell me that she was concerned that she would lose control of the situation. She was concerned that the team member was going to treat it like a negotiation, and the team member was going to be offended because the person is “motivated by money” and would posture this as an insult…and more.

Recognizing the Issue May Be Deeper

It came out that the leader had been delaying this raise because she was dreading the conversation and felt bad about the delay.  After about five minutes of unpacking, I really pushed to get her to state the root cause of her issue, and she broke down in tears.

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We took a quick break so that she could collect herself and as always, I “entered the danger” of the conversation; I asked why this person and this conversation had triggered so much emotion.  She admitted that the person was the only one in the company who intimidated her and brought out feelings of inadequacy that she keeps in check most of the time (she’s an incredibly high performer and an effective leader).  He, evidently, is a bully.  We got to the point where she was able to identify four independent issues that we were able to prioritize within the conversation that she would be having that now included a “below the bar” component with the expectation that in order to remain in the company she would work with him to address his bullying.  It turned out that the easiest part of the conversation was the monetary recognition of his having performed in the elevated role, there would be no negotiation!

How EOS Tools Can Help

This leader and the team learned some crucial lessons about the importance of root cause and how the most benign symptom can contain a host of really deep causes.  They also learned that by “unpacking” these issues and applying the appropriate EOS® Tools to address them, they can create clarity and confidence in how to proceed.

Next Steps