The 5 Questions to Shut Down an Argument

Friday September 10, 2021 comments Tags: Management, Mentorship



Employee Disputes are Time-Consuming and Frustrating

Having to cut an Employee is simply bad for business because you have to train and retrain or just lose face when negative turnover
repeatedly hits your business. Ever work for a company that has a "certain reputation"?


This guy gets it.

Better put, read any articles or watch any YouTube Videos recently that talk about companies having high turnover? It's a problem in our times, to be sure.

9 times out of 10 when an employee makes a mistake It's probably because they missed something. To say that something was missed, however, is not to say that makes it the employees fault. Your job as a manager of your team is to ensure that people are on the same page and know how to do their jobs as well as you can empower them. Knowing this, when it comes to mistakes the worst place you can start is by assigning blame. 

That's a bad situation all around. In all likelihood, first there's going to be a dispute, and then someone is likely to either quit or be let go.

If you're familiar with our method, try these questions instead:

1: What was the Request

First and foremost, your instructions should always have been written down. If you're passing directions on through a chat client, it should be in text chat, and that text should be clear and provided transparently.

For the first question, ask the person (or persons) to find the first direction and read the direction back to you, so everyone is on the same page.

This is also an opportunity as a manager to do some self-assessment. Were your directions as clear as you thought? Do you now, with hindsight, see how your directions could have been more clear, concise, or more specific? Did you miss a step? You might realize right here and now that the issue wasn't on your team. Your processes will be stronger in the future because of this.

If the questions are clear and the instructions are found and in writing, move on to question 2.

2: What was the Result

Now it's time for the employee's self-assessment. What was the result of what they did. Are they pleased with the result? You may at this point learn that your employee is confused. To them, they may have completed your task to the letter. They may even see something in their work that you have missed entirely. They could still be completely in the right!

Of course, you can also assess. Was the result of your employee's input positive, negative? Did it yield a good result but not follow policy like it was supposed to? Happy accidents happen but it can be important in a lot of cases that policies are followed regardless of outcomes.


Pictured: Not an environment for "happy accidents"

3: Do you see a Difference between the Request and the Result

The answer at this point should almost always be "yes", otherwise why are standing here? But again, you might be surprised. This question might reveal that the employee doesn't understand that they haven't delivered as promised. If that's the case, you are now properly equipped to coach your employee and make clear your expectations.

4: What is our Company Policy Regarding this Request?

Okay, here's where I'm going to stress again it's really important to write stuff down. What you are developing through this exact process are your company policies. Policy is absolutely essential to how scalable businesses run, it's the little tome of knowledge of how your business works you can pass on from person to person and teach anyone and everyone to do what you need done, when it needs to be done. It's your Manual.

Capice? Let's move on.

Because you write stuff down, you know the policy, they either know or are learning the policy. Have them either pull the policy up or have them repeat it back to you. They can either find it or know it, but it has to be one or the other.

We are now at the point in the process where you're going to strengthen your company policies. Is there something in the policy that you missed? That they missed? It might be due time to update or change the existing policy. Again, this may not have come from a bad result!

If it's just a matter of the employee not knowing the policy, well now you're set up to coach. Just teach the policy, now they know!

And now we've arrived at the final question:

5: If you know the Policy and you Understood the Request, what happened?

If it hasn't happened yet, this is the point when your employee is going to give you an excuse. This will be the opportunity for that person to clear the air about whatever caused them to have a lapse in concentration, to not be engaged or to forget something covered before. If the reasons are personal, then my advice - depending on the severity - is to tell that person to go home for the day and then come back when they're prepared to be engaged at work.

This may sound soft to some, but leaving the office or the workplace can be a quick way to put things in perspective. It allows people to clear their head, address their problem, and gives them space to weigh out their own priority to the job.

I'm not just talk when I write these things. To see these strategies in action helping real clients from my practice - and even my own employees - look no further: