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How to Solve Group Problems

Working as a group can be hard, but there are ways to make it easier.

By
Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #160

Just remember: worried co-workers are willing co-workers, especially if they think you’ll come to the rescue. Call a group meeting and explain the problem. Very Important People are waiting in conference rooms for team members, and the team members are nowhere to be found—and because you can’t see the details on their calendars, you can’t find them. Or, your boss needs to meet with someone and there’s no way to know where they are. This, in turn, means the group misses important opportunities. It also has the potential to make the absent person look irresponsible. And you would never want one of your co-workers to look irresponsible.

How to Have the Group Solve the Problem

Put the problem in terms of how it harms the group, not just how inconvenient it is for you. I hate to break it to you, but even though they pretend to, they don’t really care about making your life better. All those holiday cards? They just give them so you won’t throw eggs at their cars. And while we’re facing harsh reality, there is no Easter Bunny, Santa Claus is just a brand name for an international conglomerate, and Mrs. Fields isn’t a little old lady, she’ s a stunningly beautiful crack businesswoman. Welcome to adulthood.

Next, ask the group to brainstorm solutions. Make a list of everyone’s suggestions, including your own. If you notice some people have stayed silent, ask whether they have anything to add. When people give input, they’ll feel ownership of the result. Finally, vote on the solution and try the solution the group chooses.

Put Limits on the New Change

Frame the new system explicitly as a time-limited experiment to reduce objections to your plan.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.