Every day you make certain decisions that are based on emotions- what you want for lunch, what you should wear, how much potential a project or team member has, whether you like a new policy or procedure. It is part of what makes you successful, knowing when and how to read your gut is a great barometer for making quick decisions and for keeping your moral compass grounded.
But what happens when a situation arises where emotions are detrimental to the solution. Things like a laying off part of your team- even though they are key members, a customer calling to drop a product line or an HR issue that is one of the office “hot buttons”.
How do you separate the intense emotion that accompanies these situations from the situation itself? How do you keep calm when everyone around you is caught up in their emotions? How do you become the rock and guide your team safely through the situation?
I find that the process is very similar to the “Listen, Process, React”.
1. Gather the facts from the commentary. People will be understandably upset or “hyped up” during your fact finding mission. Even when someone is ranting, there is value in the conversation. Pick up the nuances and underlying meanings to start putting together the real story.
2. Understand the situation. Once you have gathered the facts, start to figure out what the actual situation is and what the ramifications of your decisions will be. Knowing that somewhere between all of the stories is the truth, use your knowledge and experience to fill in gaps.
3. Formulate a plan. Make your plan as detailed as possible, answering all potential questions so that when you present the plan, it is coming from a voice of authority.
4. Present and execute the plan. Once your plan is presented to the team or stakeholders, work on executing it. Getting people involved in the solution will help them heal from it.
5. Make yourself available for discussions. Once the plan is rolling out, people will want to learn why and how you came to a decision. Make sure you give them that courtesy. It will help them to make similar decisions and to handle things in the future.
I have dealt with plenty of horrible situations. Many were blown out of proportion because emotions got the better of the participants. By staying cool, figuring out what actually happened and making a plan to fix it, most of the hard feelings could have been avoided.