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Why are managers reluctant to address issues quickly?

by Jim McPhee

In today’s 24/7 world the demands on both managers and their teams continue to grow. More is required from less and managers have significant personal deliverables as well as maintaining business as usual from their team.

The impact of this for some is an environment where they thrive and feed of the challenge of meeting ever tightening deadlines and ever increasing targets. For others it will eventually bring inertia, normal management activities get neglected, people become resource and when problems arise fingers are crossed and an “ignore it and it will go away” attitude is adopted.

These are clearly extremes, but all of us are somewhere on this continuum.

Inertia doesn’t happen overnight, so what are some of the signs to look out for?

  • Team meetings are ill prepared or cancelled
  • Team members are trying to meet with you and eventually give up trying
  • Regular one to ones are postponed, rushed or not written up
  • Other people start asking you “what is happening with John or Mary?”
  • You receive an unexpected resignation
  • Sickness and unplanned absence start to increase in the team
  • The business area becomes untidy and desk are cluttered with both important and irrelevant paper

So how can we avoid inertia?

Firstly recognise that as the team manager you have responsibility to manage: the team need your time, your support, your challenge and your encouragement. Here are some suggestions to help:

  • Make sure you have a written objective to recognise your responsibility as a people manager
  • Put one to ones and preparation time in the diary – hold them sacrosanct
  • Simplify the format for writing up one to one meetings and try to do it during the meeting
  • Ensure all team members have an agreed and active development plan
  • Make a point of talking to each team member each day to get a sense of progress and wellbeing
  • Rotate the chair and responsibility for organising team meetings
  • Set enough time aside to face into and deal with genuine issues before they become to big to handle or the consequences set in stone

So how do we face into genuine issues?

In many cases managers are not reluctant to face into issues, but just don’t know how to go about it. Here are some thought to help with this.

Take time to think through the issue that is concerning you. To help this thinking and provide a structure for the meeting I have used the DISCO framework introduced to me by Christine Hunter of Discovery Training. It is easy to remember and effective.

Let’s look at DISCO in more detail


  • Have a clear purpose
  • Outline the concern and why it is important to address it
  • Present the potential benefits ie What will motivate the individual to take action
  • Use the “I” approach
  • Test how open the individual is to discuss the concern
  • Get the other person view and opinion on the need for the discussion
  • Listen to the individual and respond with statements and questions


  • Ask question to understand the root cause of the problem
  • Get the others view before stating your own
  • Respond to others view
  • Maintain a balance between you view and the individuals view
  • Use questions and summaries to control and avoid straying off the subject
  • Provide additional facts and opinions
  • Be concise


  • Ask for solutions
  • Discuss options
  • Select the “best solution”
  • Document actions
  • Ensure a balance of actions
  • Avoid “monkeys” (see One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey)
  • Check the solution will achieve the end result


  • Summarise and Clarify the agreed solution
  • Add detail to goals and objectives
  • Agree “doability” and milestones
  • Generate and discuss the benefits
  • Identify and allocate the support required (Situational Leadership)
  • Judge the level of commitment and lead discussion accordingly


  • Agree the milestones for reviewing progress
  • Set up meetings to support and monitor
  • Confirm strategy if changes are required
  • Document outcome
  • Carry out the agreed activity
  • Use DISCO to address arising issues

Used well and consistently this approach will not only give you the confident to address people issues, but will increase the capability of your team to think through issues for themselves and avoid some of the issues in the first place.

I hope you found this article valuable, if so let me know.

If you would like to know more what we do please contact me by e mail jim.mcphee@maximisingcapability or telephone 07817 790268

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“….I believe that individuals have the power and capability to do great things but too often limit their performance due to a lack of clarity or the fear of confronting the issues….“

Jim McPhee
Maximising Capability

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