There have been a lot of changes and difficulties of late - ones that we never even considered four months ago. These unforeseen changes have accelerated and magnified existing difficulties.
One of these difficulties is basic human nature: not going to the source when problems arise.
One of the easiest ways to compound a problem is to not go to the source.
Why is it our human nature to not go to the source? Because it’s awkward. And who likes to do something awkward when there is a perceived easier path of going to someone else?
The problem is that going around the source is not an easier path, it’s pretty much guaranteed to become a tangled mess of unnecessary emotion.
Excellent leaders know there are two main reasons why it is imperative to go directly to the source:
Most efficient way to address a problem
Avoid unnecessary emotional baggage
Tell me if you have had this happen: an email lands in your inbox and as you read through the email threads it is very clear that you were not intended to receive all of the email comments. The conversation began between two or more people and each response added more people until someone identified that it couldn’t be addressed until you were in the loop and added you on. Much to the others chagrin.
Now there’s a lot of emotion involved - your emotion of being left out and the emotions of others who are potentially embarrassed and upset that you know their unadulterated feelings on the topic, and that you know they took those feelings to others instead of to the source. Now there are trust issues. Trust issues are always messy.
Not going to the source guarantees more work. Unnecessarily messy work. Save yourself time (and emotion) and have that first critical conversation with the actual person.
Here’s a suggestion for when you’re faced with a situation that should be addressed directly to the source: start with a statement of, “This is awkward for me.” This provides context and gives permission for the situation to be awkward. Once the emotions are acknowledged the real work can happen and you can be with your team.